Ram Dass, spiritual teacher:
“What you have found from your past marriages is that what you are attracted to in a person isn’t what you ultimately live with. After the honeymoon is over, after the desire systems that were dominant in both of you that brought the initial attraction to the relationship pass, when all of it passes, then you are left with the work to do. And it’s the same work when you trade in one partner for another. You still have the same work you’re going to have to do sooner or later when the pizzazz is over.
There’s no good or bad about the choices we make, I’m not talking good or bad about this, but every time we trade in a partner, we realize that we keep coming to the same place in relationships, where many of us tend to stop, because it gets too heavy. Because our identity gets threatened too much. Because for the relationship to move to the next level of truth requires an opening and a vulnerability that many of us are not quite ready to make. And so we entrench and pull back, and then we start to judge and push away, and then we move to the next one. And then we have the rush of the openness, and then eventually the same thing starts to happen.
And so we keep saying, “Where am I going to find the one where this doesn’t happen?” And it’ll only not happen when it doesn’t happen in you. The openness will remain when we start to take and watch the stuff, and get quiet enough inside ourselves so that we can take that process when it’s happening and start to work with it.
You can’t milk the romanticism of relationship too long as you become more conscious. Deep relationship is more interesting than that, it really is. People keep wanting to romanticize their lives all the time. But the spiritual awakening process starts to show you the emptiness of that game, and you start to go for something deeper. You start to go for meeting someone in Truth. And Truth is scary. Truth has bad breath at times, Truth is boring, Truth, you know, burns the food, Truth has anger, Truth has all of it. But, when you want to go deeper, you stay in it, and you keep working with it, and keep opening to it, keep deepening it, and keep coming back to living Truth, in ourselves and in other person, even though it’s scary and hard.”
Melody Beattie, the author of “Codependent No More“:
“We’ve discovered certain behaviors and attitudes nurture relationships and help them grow. Healthy detachment, honesty, self-love, love for each-other, tackling problems, negotiating differences, and being flexible help nurture relationships. We can enhance relationships with acceptance, forgiveness, a sense of humor, an empowering but realistic attitude, open communication, respect, tolerance, patience, and faith in a Higher Power. Caring about our own and each other’s feelings helps. Asking instead of ordering helps. Not caring, when caring too much hurts, helps too. Being there when we need each other helps. Being there for ourselves, and doing our own personal growth work helps. Having and setting boundaries and respecting other people’s boundaries improves relationships. Taking care of ourselves – taking responsibility for ourselves – benefits relationships. Being interested in others and ourselves helps. Believing in others and ourselves helps. Being vulnerable, and allowing ourselves to get close helps. Giving relationships energy, attention, and time helps them grow. Initiating relationships with people who are capable or participating in them helps.
On the other hand, certain behaviors and attitudes harm relationships. Low self-esteem, taking responsibility for others, neglecting ourselves, unfinished business, and trying to control other people or the relationship can cause damage. Harm can also be caused by being overly dependent, not discussing feelings and problems, lying, abuse, and unresolved addictions. Certain attitudes such as hopelessness, resentment, perpetual criticism, naivete, unreliability, hard-heartedness, negativity, or cynicism can ruin relationships. Being too selfish, or not selfish enough, can hurt relationships. Too little or too much tolerance can harm relationships. Having expectations too high or low can hurt relationships. Looking for all our good feelings, excitement, or stimulation from our relationships can damage them. Not learning from our mistakes or being too hard on ourselves for our mistakes can hurt relationships. Expecting other people, ourselves, or our relationships to be perfect can damage relationships. Not examining a relationship enough can damage it; so can holding it under a microscope.”
David Richo, author of “How To Be Adult“:
“Every adult relationship requires conflict before true commitment can happen. Each struggle helps you discard yet another illusory ideal about the other person, yet another illusory title to have your expectations met. Every conflict clears away the sham in favor of a fuller revelation of this real person who has not met my every need or measured up to what I wanted, but my love for that person has survived. That is the unconditional love – grounded in reality and mutually liberation – by which true commitment flourishes.”
Werner Erhart, the founder of est/Landmark Education:
“You don’t need to wait for Prince Charming to come along; you can create being charmed, and come from being charmed. You don’t have to wait for somebody to do it to you, you can create this in the relationships that you’ve got right now. I mean, you know how to work towards the images that you’ve got for your relationships. You know, you know that she ought to be like this, and that when she is, then you’ll be happy with her. And you know that he ought to stop being like that, and that, if he would, then, boy, would you put out. You’ve got to give all that up today, for at least as long as you’re in here. You’ve got to let go, just absolutely let go. I’d like you to take a look at something: would you be willing without any circumstances changing, if he still is like he was when you got here, and if she won’t stop … whatever, would you be willing with no alteration in your circumstances to experience that your relationship was ecstatic and joyful and celebrating and pleasurable and loving and wonderful and would you be willing to experience being absolutely blown away by the people in your relationships? So that’s what it’s about, you see? Now you’d be surprised at what kind of work you’d be able to do in the space of ecstasy. See, you’re trying to get them straightened out with no ecstasy, very hard. You create some ecstasy in the relationship and see how fast they move. No sense working uphill.”
David Viscott, radio psychiatrist:
“So here you are: you’re alone. The closest you ever get to another person is being alone together. Have you ever figured that out? Think about that. Being alone together is the most intimate you ever get with anyone. It’s that place where you are when the two of you don’t ask of each other anything except to be there and be awake at the same time. Because you know everything about the other person and the other person knows you; there’s nothing you can say that is going to change anything. It’s just perfectly wonderful being imperfect together and open about it. A lot of people don’t understand this point, but it’s the way a relationship when it’s really functioning well works.”
Shunryu Suzuki, founder of the San Francisco Zen Center:
“Even though you try to put people under some control, it is impossible. You cannot do it. The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in its wider sense. To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people; first let them do what they want, and watch them. This is the best policy. To ignore them is not good; that is the worst policy. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them, just to watch them, without trying to control them.”
Melody Beattie :
“Like other living things, relationships are cyclical, not static. We have cycles of passion and boredom, ease and struggle, closeness and distance, joy and pain, growth and repose. “Kate and I have been married six years,” my friend Del says. “We’re both from moderately dysfunctional families, and we were both working on personal growth years before we married. Sometimes we’ve worked hard on the relationship. Sometimes we’ve backed off and worked on ourselves. Sometimes we’ve been too busy to work on anything. Sometimes we know we really love each other; sometimes it’s a real struggle. I never knew relationships were so difficult.”
“Isn’t that wonderful, to go into the world looking for proof of you’re wonderful and lovable? You don’t get it, you know. All the proof of your lovabilty is in the mirror. And if you don’t come from a place of freedom, there is absolutely no one that you’ll ever meet who will make you feel free. Your job is to bring a happy person to a relationship … The greatest aphrodisiac in the world is a happy person. Think about that for a minute; is there a bigger turn on in life than someone who’s really happy? You want to be with the other person. And a happy person likes the way they feel; that’s the definition of happy. A happy person also doesn’t need anything. And if a person doesn’t need anything and they’re happy, guess what it feels like to be in their presence? It feels like you, because you don’t need to do anything to please them, win their love, or get their acceptance, because whether they accept you or not isn’t even the question, they accept themselves … they’re just watching you. A happy person knows who he or she is. And because they know who he or she is, your approval or rejection doesn’t mean anything. You want to approve? Approve. You don’t want to approve? Don’t approve. It’s all the same to me, I’m the same as when I got up.”
Thomas Harris, author of “I’m OK, You’re OK“:
“Since no two people are exactly alike, the idea of perfect compatibility is illusory. The problem can best be stated in terms of comparative difficulties: it is difficult to work out the differences and make compromises, but it also is difficult to proceed with the alternative, the dissolution of the relationship. One cannot proceed on the basis of rigid absolutes, such as splitting up is always wrong, because there are other principles which also apply … to insist that a man continue to support a lazy, vengeful woman who denies any complicity in the deterioration of the relationship discounts principles of human dignity … a miserable relationship may make the life of the swinging single girl or the carefree bachelor seem grand indeed; yet, an impulsive choice on the basis of an unexamined assumption may lead to even further despair. The life of the newly single is not all it’s cracked up to be: the difficulty of loneliness as recurring pain, the loss of old friends who do not want to take sides, the implications of failure, and the fatigue of knowing that one has to start all over. An adult appraisal of one’s situation must take into account these realities.”
Melody Beattie :
“We don’t have to take rejection as a reflection of our self-worth. If somebody who is important to you (or even someone unimportant) to you rejects you or your choices, you are still real, and you are still worth every bit as much as you would be if you had not been rejected. Feel any feelings that go with the rejection; talk about your thoughts; but don’t forfeit your self-esteem to another’s disapproval or rejection of who you are or what you have done. Even if the most important person in your world rejects you, you are still real, and you are still okay.
If you have done something inappropriate or you need to solve a problem or change a behavior, then take appropriate steps to take care of yourself. But don’t reject yourself, and don’t give so much power to other people’s rejection of you. It isn’t necessary. We don’t have to take things so personally. We take things to heart that we have no business taking to heart. We don’t have to take little things personally either. If someone has a bad day or gets angry, don’t assume it has something to do with you. It may or may not have something to do with you. If it does you’ll find out. Usually, things have far less to do with us than we think. An interruption, someone else’s bad mood, sharp tongue, bad day, negative thoughts, problems, or active alcoholism does not have to run or ruin our lives, our day, or even an hour of our day. If people don’t want to be with us or act healthy, it is not a reflection of our self-worth. If reflects their present circumstances.
By practicing detachment we can lessen our destructive reactions to the world around us. Separate yourself from things. Leave things alone, and let people be who they are. Who are you to say that the interruption, mood, word, bad mood, thought, or problem is not an important and necessary part of life? Who are you to say that this problem won’t ultimately be beneficial to you or someone else?”
Thomas Moore, author of “Care of the Soul”:
“Liberation acquired at the cost of the soul’s desire may be a questionable achievement. Rather than coming up with new understandings, and new and improved ways of doing things, the soul prefers to get what it can gradually, taking it’s nourishment from what’s already present. Soul work, then, requires patience and loyalty, virtues not in vogue in our fast changing times. The soul asks that we live through our attachments, rather than try to make swift clean breaks … The soul wants to be attached, involved, and even stuck because it is through such intimacies that it is nourished, initiated and deepened. Relationship … may be nothing the eternal struggle to reconcile nothing less that heaven and earth; the upward yearning for simplicity, order, meaning, and freedom, with the downward need for complexity, change, moodiness, rootedness, and attachment.”
Stephen Covey, author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People“:
“The man said, ‘My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me. What can I do?’
‘The feeling isn’t there anymore?’ I asked.
‘That’s right,’ he reaffirmed. ‘And we have three children we’re really concerned about. What do you suggest?’
‘Love her,’ I replied.
‘I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.’
‘You don’t understand. the feeling of love just isn’t there.’
‘Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.’
‘But how do you love when you don’t love?’
‘My friend , love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?’ ”
One of the things that makes relationships so difficult is the way in which we protect ourselves from suffering — from our own and from each other’s. Because when you love someone you don’t want to lay your suffering on them and your fears. Also you are afraid if you open your heart too far their suffering will overwhelm you. Because when you look at the world, you just see suffering everywhere.
If you scratched the surface of every person in this room, you will find that there is some suffering. Some people who are walking around here smiling at each other and sitting down and having wonderful, gentle conversations, inside have very deep pain and deep fear. But they have learned so well how to mask it from each other. The culture reinforces that saying, don’t bring your pain to me. I only want your happiness. I’ll put up with a little of it but not much of it because you will scare me.
Now just as I said before, if you are going to be able to deal with seeing someone else’s beauty, you have to be able to acknowledge your own beauty. In a similar way if you are going to able to be available for someone else’s suffering you have to be able to acknowledge your own suffering and be able to understand the nature of suffering in such a way that you have converted the quality of suffering in yourself.
John Bradshaw, public television psychologist :
“Another thing that happens when you take an adaptation and become this nice guy to cover up anger, to cover up sexuality, to cover up anything instinctual, wanting what you want, wanting your own way … see, every human being wants his own way. I mean, yes, in order to get along and love each other, we’ve got to negotiate and adapt, and find good healthy ways to negotiate and fight fair. But to think that every human being doesn’t want their own way, that’s a law of self-preservation, that you want your own way. And nine times out of ten, when I was being creamed for being selfish, what that meant was that I wasn’t doing it their way.”
“The ‘Givens’ of Relationships: Antidotes to Unrealistic Expectations:
* Only at rare moments is the love in one partner the same as that in the other.
* Priorities are continually changing for each partner. The integrity of the union may not always be a priority.
* No truly loving relationship takes away, or can take away, even one of your basic human rights.
* Intimate relationships survive best with constant permission for ever-changing ratios of closeness and distance.
* What creates distance in your relationship you may be using unconsciously to get distance.
* No one can control or change someone else, nor is it necessary.
* The best relationship includes space for you to pursue individual choices, and to be compassionately attentive to any threat your partner may feel.
* No expectations are valid, and not even agreements are always reliable. No one is loyal or truthful all of the time.
* Your partner may not always be a consistent, nurturant, or a trustworthy friend to you (nor you to your partner).
* Most people avoid or fear intimacy, consistent honesty, intense feelings, and uninhibited joy.
* Most people in relationships seldom know what they really want, ask for what they really want, or show what they really feel.
* No relationship can create self-esteem, only support it.
* You are ultimately alone and able to make it alone.
* The powerful appeal of someone new may tell you more about your own neediness than about the charms of the other person.
* No one is to blame when a relationship ends.
* The end of one relationship will always require a space before another relationship can begin healthily.
* One of your (or your partner’s) parents is a phantom, but active, presence at the beginning, middle, or ending of your relationship.
* There is no one person who will make you happy, keep you fascinated, love you as your favorite parent did, or give you the love you missed from your parents.
* Beneath every serious complaint about your partner is something unowned in yourself.
* Letting go of blame and the need to be right heals a relationship most efficaciously.
* Jealousy and possessiveness, though not desirable, are normal human feelings.
* A relationship is a spiritual path since it consists of a continual shedding of illusions.”
“You’re born alone and you die alone – if you’ve figured it out, you know, they kill you at the end of this life, right, all the work and education and degrees and all of it, right, you’re dead at the end of it – so, what’s another person about? The reason why another person is in your life is so that you can share the process of discovery and celebrate the act of giving. Doesn’t say anything about anybody giving to you. No one is here to give to you. No one is supposed to give to you. Your search is not to find someone who’s going to make it better. You’re supposed to make it better.”
John Bradshaw :
“See, as painful as conflict and fighting is, every relationship’s gonna have to go through it if you ever want to get to what Susan Campbell in her book ‘The Couple’s Journey, Intimacy As a Path to Wholeness” calls the equilibrium stage, the stability stage. All couples are going to go through conflict, they’re going to go through oppositional bonding. It’ll happen right after you get married, unfortunately, that’s when you’re going to realize that one of your grew up with the Hatfields and the other with the McCoys. And you gotta work through that stuff. Now, if you can’t give each other honest feedback, then there’s not gonna be emotional growth. Nice behavior will ultimately be distrusted by others. You know somebody that anytime you ask them you know that they’ll say, “Oh god, you’re great!” And you know that if you go there they’ll tell you something good about you but you don’t trust them, because you don’t ever believe that they’ll really ever tell you truth. And pretty soon, they’re mistrusted by others ; it generates uncertainty and lack of safety in others, because they can’t be sure that they’ll be supported by the nice guy or gal in a time of crisis … “We must agree if we love each other”… No! The real way you know about each other’s differences is to get to the accurate differences, and then suddenly is this really mysterious “I am who I am” person who you are discovering who is unlike anyone who you have ever known and who is just like he is or just like she is.”
Bruce Davis, author of “The Magical Child Inside You”:
“Once I was involved in a love affair. I couldn’t tell my girlfriend how jealous, angry, and possessive I was of her when I felt her other relationships received more attention than ours. I was afraid of losing her until I found out I may lose my inner child instead. While being understanding of her not being with me, my inner child would be awake all night, tossing and turning, screaming and pounding, hurting and crying in my sleep. This continued until my inner child let me know that I had the choice to either understand her or understand him. The more difficult the choice became, the more angry and hurt he was. Finally beginning to recognize him, both my girlfriend and my inner child began to respect me more. I began to trust myself more and my mind became much clearer.
My clarity reached one of its highest states when she and I were fighting, screaming at one another how we felt and what we wanted from the other. Upon setting a safe environment where the relationship itself would not be questioned, her inner child as well became as demanding and assuming as mine, both of us expressing more and more jealous, angry, and possessive feelings. The more we allowed the inner child in each of us to stand firmly upon their heels, shouting how they felt, demanding what they wanted, the firmer and more complete we both felt. More important than winning was just fighting, communicating. Finally, with my sweat all over me, exhausted and my girlfriend feeling the same, we declared our communication together as a success, both of us fighting for our inner child the best we could.
Communication doesn’t always take such vigorous forms but keeping on the look out for the desires of my inner child helps prevent developing an angry monster later on to contend with. I may not always be able to meet his desires. But my inner child, like children in general, wants to know that it is all right to want and that he deserves to have his wishes come true. Admitting my jealous, angry, and possessive feelings, telling my inner child that I understand and care about his feelings saves my life and his from a lot of misery. Expressing my jealousy, anger, and possessiveness whenever it is safe to do so is the most special way I can tell my inner child that I love him. Being open, breathing deeply, clarity is listening to my inner child, moment by moment.”
“Are you willing for your relationships to work? Are you willing to experience satisfaction in your relationships? Are you willing to experience completion in your relationships? Are you willing to experience aliveness in your relationships? Are you willing to experience certainty in your relationships?”
Werner Erhard :
“Regarding the relationship of you to yourself, who is the source of the experience of love? In your relationship with another, who creates the experience of love? In your relationship of another with you, who is the source of the experience of love? In this universe, who is the source of love? Who do you need in order to be loved? Who do you need in order to experience love? In your universe, who could withhold love? In your universe, if love is scarce, who isn’t creating it?”