When thinking about Valentine’s Day, my mind naturally becomes focused upon questions regarding the nature of our relationships with others. Over the years of a life, we all find ourselves involved in relationships, some platonic, others romantic in nature. No matter the tenor of a relationship, there are certain qualities that seem to be reflected between all of them. For example, in all relationships, a reciprocal influence is exchanged that integrates both conscious and subconscious characteristics from each party in the interaction; whether it be a conscious evolution of the belief system or a subconscious absorption of mannerisms, without realizing it, we adopt numerous aspects of those with whom we have a relationship, and, equally, transmit characteristics and qualities which they adopt from us.
In some cases these transferred influences can be less than desirable: in the same way that a child may pick up bad habits from a parent, so too, negative qualities, such as ignorance regarding certain subjects, often spreads from one individual to others they are close with. Conversely, many positive aspects are often shared. Most all of us would like more relationships with the ability to help improve our general outlook towards life, or which cultivate a reinforcing of confidence and fill one with inspiration, and it is certainly not uncommon for these and similar positive traits to be shared. We often learn how to be from others, in ways that we may not even recognize.
All relationships are learning experiences, but what we absorb from those we are closest with is only one aspect of how these lessons are imparted. A major lesson that can often come with friendship is the dissolution of attachment. Many relationships develop out of a sense of need from the participants, whether it is filling an emotional void, a desire for social validation, or just the cure for loneliness. This type of relationship is often powerful for those in it, but is still limited, since the two people are really not looking at each other clearly. They each perceive the reflection of their own need, and are in a state that puts one person, the person with lesser need, into a place of power. This is not bad, but it is only one possibility, and it is worth considering how we can move to another way of being within our relationships. The key is to recognize that the need we are fulfilling comes from within, and does not require an external element for resolution. If we are at peace within ourselves and appreciate our own company, the experience of the other moves out of the realm of reliance and transcends the traditional notion of love.Instead of having a need for the other person’s attention and energy, we develop a connection that moves further towards reflecting true, holistic unified love, the source energy that permeates all things. It is when we are able to interact and connect with others without need, but instead from a place of curiosity and choice that we are able to dissolve our attachment in a way that deepens the connections we forge.
Some might think that a romantic relationship in particular would not work without the need and attachment most associate with that form of love. It is easy to imagine how two people who are in a state of detachment might have difficulty connecting, but only if we do not recognize that we are really talking about something different from our ordinary notion of detachment. In this case, we truly are discussing the ability to not be attached to a particular way for the other person to exist. We are not detaching from the beloved, but from our desires and expectations of them. We are, in fact, offering them the freedom to be truly who they are without our criticism. In common parlance, we are speaking of unconditional love. Within a romantic partnership, we are seeking to express the appreciation for the characteristics of the one we love, both those that are good and those that are bad. Indeed, we should not even call them good or bad, but should seek to create a more holistic connection, one that neither exaggerates the desirable attributes nor ignores the unattractive qualities, but accepts them all as the true expression of the one before us. One learns to recognize the other person for their true nature, and learns to create a harmonious relationship by allowing the other to express that core identity.
Once two people have developed their capacity to coexist in this special way, where they each recognize and accept the other honestly and openly, it is also natural for them to learn to work together more harmoniously. If one accepts the beloved as they are, simple problems vanish, because there is no expectation for the beloved to fulfill specific needs or duties. There is no expectation for, let’s say, doing dishes, because the partner who wants that done accepts it as their own desire and responsibility. Partners accept what they desire as their own responsibility and will do those things because they have no need for their partner to fulfill them in that way. When we are in a relationship like this, the other person becomes our complimentary opposite. Each of us has desires that we know we are responsible for fulfilling, and accept that it is our own need to accomplish these tasks, but we also are part of a team, where those things that we may not do naturally become accomplished because our partner recognizes them as desirable. The two people become halves of a whole and work seamlessly. The qualities of each individual work in sync with those of the other, allowing things to flow together, almost as if it were no longer two people, but a joint being composed of both. This quality in a relationship is sometimes considered a ‘twin flame’ quality, but any of us can find this connection with multiple others, when we learn to express the unconditional love born from this form of detachment.
The concept of twin flames, people who seem to share a single soul in two bodies, seems to suggest that it is a once in a lifetime experience, something that only occurs when the universe aligns in a perfect way, but ultimately, our souls are all connected. Each of our souls is producing vibrations that reflect the same harmony. In the same way that two musical notes may sound wonderful together, yet may each also partner with infinitely many others for equally beautiful results, so too, any one of us can learn to resonate with a frequency of love that will align with many other souls in this way. When we learn to solidly present unconditional love, without attachment to our own desires and expectations, the other feels it.
In relationships that demonstrate this twin flame-like quality, the focus is not on the difficulties and troubles of everyday life. The circumstances that exist in our life as a whole are not what we focus upon. We do not think about the laundry, or the loss of a job, or the million petty problems that each day can bring. Instead, we are in this present moment, together with the other. When meeting up two people may exchange words about their life circumstances or the problems of this day. Communicating about the difficulties and issues of life, especially when those involved can relate to the problems of the other, tends to provide us with confidence and solace regarding our own personal situation. While this level of connection can persist in some relationships, those who are able to deepen their appreciation of the other through detachment tend not to dwell upon these types of details.
Early on in a relationship, it is necessary to learn about each other in many ways, but if we focus upon expressing unconditional love throughout this process and do not allow ourselves to attach to particular desires and expectations regarding this other person, we can learn far more. Certainly, dates are effective in creating a mutual experience for two people in the beginning of a relationship. Sharing a set of enjoyable activities and memories together and spending time learning about each other needs to be our first goal. But that sharing moves beyond personal experience when we add to it our non-judgmental attitude. In addition, we learn to relax in the date, not worrying about what each moment means for the future of our burgeoning relationship, because we are detached from need and focused, instead, on experiencing the present moment being shared.
For most people today, dating has a focus upon developing a physical or sexual connection and relationship. This may seem obvious, since, for the most part there is little that we can use to define a romantic relationship in a modern context besides those physical aspects. However, we must recognize that, if we are seeking to be truly detached, we must detach from our own desires for a specific type of relationship. This does not mean that we do not recognize that desire as existing, but instead that we realize it is our own desire, and not something we can expect of another person. We accept them as they are, and offer our acceptance as unconditional love that requires nothing in return. In doing so, we open up to a deeper possibility. When we focus upon the desire to fulfill lust or other needs, we limit how we can connect with the other person. Focusing upon physical desires will limit our ability to create a connection based upon the whole person. This type of focus includes the recognition of physical beauty as an aspect of a complete being who is embodied, and allows that physical form to be a symbol representing the deeper beauty of who this person truly is. If we truly see the person, we recognize that the beauty inside and the beauty outside are reflections that cannot exist separately. So too, by remaining detached from a specific outcome, we allow the other person the opportunity to experience our own attributes, since we are not presenting ourselves in a calculated way that is intended to achieve a certain outcome, even if it is not entirely true to who we are.
From my own experience, relationships that develop through this type of process are the relationships that reflect the truest form of unconditional love. It is this type of connection that most religious traditions seek to create between two people prior to them joining together before God. Those who experience this connection will recognize the deep bond created which facilitates experiencing each other’s divine presence.
Of course, many may wonder how one can affect their partner to express this type of love, but the answer to that question has already been answered here. Firstly, when one is expressing this type of love and is detached from any outcome, there is no need on our part for a partner to reciprocate. This is what we are doing ourselves because it expresses our true nature; it is not seeking any type of response. Yet, at the same time, it is worth recognizing that, as we discussed in the beginning of this article, in any relationship, we naturally adopt strong characteristics that we perceive in the other. In other words, by being a person who demonstrates this quality, you are teaching others how to experience and express unconditional love. Just by making this change in yourself, and expecting nothing in return, you will be giving others the gift of learning to detach from their own desires so they can accept their own capacity to love others without judgment or need for validation. And even if they do not seem to respond in kind, you are okay, because you do not expect that result, but are instead doing this as a reflection of your ultimate self.
It is natural for all of us to have expectations about Valentine’s Day. If we are in a relationship, we may expect our partner to act in a special way, or to bring us gifts, or to otherwise express their romantic side in a way that matches our own definition. Some who are single might also have expectations, whether of meeting someone special, or of finding like-minded singles to commiserate with. All of us are entitled to these ideas, of course, but why not take this February 14th as an opportunity to let go of those expectations? Instead, detach from your own desires, recognizing that you can already fulfill your needs for yourself, and accept the world and those in it as they exist in the moment. It is unlikely to turn out just the way you expect, but you may be surprised to find out just how much better it truly can make things.