From the soul’s point of view, each of us is here on earth to fulfill our inner design. In that process, it doesn’t really matter whether we remain in one intimate relationship for an entire lifetime, AI Hentai have many intimate relationships, or even have none at all. We will, of course, always be in relationships; the very essence of human life is interdependent and relational. Yet whatever our specific relational circumstances may be, our real work is the work of becoming more fully ourselves.
However, most of us have a very strong drive toward intimate relationships – or at least, toward pair-bonding, a process we hope will provide us with the feelings of safety and security that we often confuse with intimacy. In fact, true intimacy rarely creates what the human personality self experiences as “safety,” and the kind of safety that seems desirable to some parts of the personality actually leads to stagnation of other parts of us, and of our soul. This is one reason why so many of us experience romantic relationships as a source of great confusion and suffering.
True intimacy is an experience of deep contact in which one consciousness appreciatively encounters another. Since each of contains many levels and aspects of consciousness, we can experience intimacy (or lack thereof) within ourselves, or with any other living thing. Although intimacy may be present with people whom we know very well, a sudden flash of intimacy can also occur in a brief exchange between strangers.
Intimacy takes place on the level of consciousness, the level where the soul resides. Therefore, it both requires and facilitates authenticity, the dropping-away of social masks. This is one reason why many people find it easiest to experience intimacy with animals, who neither wear social masks nor respond to such masks in us. It’s also why so many of us find it surprisingly difficult to actually be intimate with our lovers or partners. Very often, people in designated “intimate relationships” fall into patterns which are destructive to intimacy – for instance, when we attempt to require certain feelings or behaviors from each other or from ourselves, or when fear leads us to hide aspects of ourselves. Ironically, the intimacy in most “intimate relationships” has a very short life-span, if it is ever present at all.
Many of us hold particular visions or ideals for romantic relationships. We may believe that our partners should or must have particular physical and emotional characteristics, live their lives in certain ways, and be with us in ways our human selves find pleasurable or comforting. While there is nothing “wrong” with any of these beliefs or desires, they have absolutely nothing to do with love or intimacy. They are based on a transactional model of relationship, a model which is appropriate in a market context (“I’ll give you one dollar, you’ll give me one avocado”) but is irrelevant, even antithetical, to authentic connection.
“But having a partner who is X or who does X would bring me joy,” part of us may protest. Actually, that’s not exactly true. Our human selves have many preferences, and as we’ve discussed, it is harmonious for us to arrange our lives in accordance to those preferences, rather than in opposition to them. Yet the exclusive goal of creating a life that meets our preferences leads to a never-ending search – since no matter what we choose, our deeper work will always present itself to be done, often in ways that bring challenge or discomfort. And joy is an inner soul movement that can and does often arise regardless of whether our preferences have been met, or completely subverted. For instance, no parent would prefer to have a child with Down syndrome or severe disabilities, yet many parents of children born with such conditions report that their children bring them enormous joy.
The belief that we must have things a certain way in order to be happy emerges from a part of the self that has not released life on its own recognizance, has not said Yes to ourselves and our world as it is. All of us have such parts, but allowing them to dominate our relationships is a recipe for pain, both for ourselves and whoever we attempt to “love.” Love does not dictate conditions; love embraces conditions exactly as they are.
Eckhart Tolle says matter-of-factly, “In case you haven’t noticed, relationships are not here to make us happy.” Yet even when we have noticed this, we may continue to hope blindly that it’s simply because we haven’t yet found the “right” relationship, the partner who will give us everything we want and believe we need.
Practicing the rewarding and demanding work of intimacy is an important part of the inner design of most people. Yet this work, when properly understood and engaged, looks little like the “happily ever after” myth we grew up with. In fact, the ability to develop and sustain true intimacy with self and others depends upon the willingness to wonder about ourselves and each other, to stretch, explore and inquire in an atmosphere of open, compassionate curiosity. In his book Soul Mates, Thomas Moore describes this well: