I have often heard people talk woefully of “another failed relationship” as the curtain draws down on their current romantic engagement. The coupling may have lasted a few months, a year or a few years – it doesn’t matter as the testament to failure may still be recorded. To me, one of the great implications in this statement is that a successful relationship is one that lasts for eternity, one that has reached that mystical place of perfection and completion where no further growth, attention or commitment is necessary. A place sheltered from the often tempestuous and always uncertain ways of life. A place of ultimate security, comfort and stability. That is, certainty. How can a relationship truly be successful, for both parties and the greater community, if this is the underlying motivation and even expectation? Where is the joy in this? This idea of success can lead only to stagnation and in many ways of perception create what it wishes to avoid – failure. For me however, there is no failure, in relationships or in the wider and deeper sense when considering us as individuals.
Like all things in life, relationships are transitory in nature, changing as we do, each becoming a clear outer reflection of our changing inner world. This may mean changing partners, at numerous points throughout life to fit with the current exploration of our expanding sense of who we are. It may also mean changing within a relationship with the same person. Sometimes this works and sometimes its simply time to move on. Relationship is always a field of opportunity to try on new ways of being. This does not mean that I do not believe in the possibility of eventually meeting that life partner with which there is a most perfect and seamless fit. I suspect that when each of us reaches the point at which we are clear and solid in our own knowing of who we are, then naturally we will attract our counterpart. Once we find that place of inner harmony with ourselves, of being complete within ourselves, then surely a delightful and joyous harmony with another will be possible, and easy, if we so wish it. However, there are no rules to this and each individual’s experience is different. Some will experience many relationships, learning from many diverse experiences, whereas others will settle into a happy union early on. Again, there can be no universal measurement of success for all, and comparison, and its partner expectation, bring only suffering and pain.
Before the life partner, each relationship, if taken consciously, helps us to clarify who we really are, who we wish to be, and what we wish for from a relationship through the experience of that which we do not want. How else can we come to know what we want from a relationship and from life if not through the contrast of its opposite? Ultimately, relationship, and all is relationship, is about allowing ourselves to be and express from a state of love. Each soul we meet along our way is a stepping stone towards a greater consciousness of love, yet each a perfect encounter in itself in which to practice love as best as we can, opening and expanding our hearts a little more each time. This was not meant to be easy in terms of painless. Each soul did not arrive on earth wishing for a feathered bed to lie upon undisturbed. The desire for relationship stability and certainty (which simply does not exist) is yet another reflection of the constant striving for future better, and the missing of life as it is, that is inherent in the illusion and story of ourselves. When we give ourselves to life and all of its experiences, instead of to the story of ourselves, then we are open to feeling all the wonder and aliveness relationship has to offer.
Just recently, together with my now ex partner, I have consciously wound down, in a very refreshing way, our romantic relationship. It had become clear that we were not best suited to each other, yet still we loved each other as fully as we could. There was a point at which the incompatibility made itself known, in a rather explosive though clarifying way, as it had to do. Obviously it is always painful, breaking up with a partner. We had had a very intense and deep connection and letting go of those attachments was certainly not easy, though I knew in my heart that the relationship had run its course and it was time to move on. So often it is the holding on, against the knowing within our hearts that it is over, that causes so much of the conflict and pain within relationships. I know this very well from past experience of trying to keep relationships alive for fear of what the loss would bring.
On reflection I felt that my previous relationship was a very successful one when considering the gifts we have given to each other. This is not always so obvious and is always a matter of perspective. Perspective is always the fulcrum between joy and appreciation or misery. In my case, my ex partner taught me many things through the challenge of her personality and how it highlighted aspects of my personality that were due for upgrade or complete retirement. I changed in many positive ways as a result of facing these aspects of myself that the relationship gave rise to. And in turn I gave and taught her many things. In this state, when I look back I am filled with appreciation and love for her and our time together. I still feel the pangs of pain, loss and sadness but then I know this is the natural course of life and the aliveness of beingness. In no way do I consider our relationship to have been a failure. It was a great opportunity for the growth and expansion of love and joy.
Life and death flow constantly, one moving into the other, each and every day. It seems to me that we mostly fear death and the loss it threatens but with the perpetuation of holding to the idea of something there is no refreshing of our experience of life. To live fully we must give ourselves to death. With death falls away the need to get somewhere and with it dies the idea that there can be failure.