I have some friends who share a similar dilemma: they all really want to have a relationship. Some of them have met an ideal person but the romantic potential between them is still lacking. Others have spent some time dating someone, yet they still cannot find the special one. In their many years of searching and dating, some of them are hopeless, while others are forever optimist and a few are content of being single. We could easily relate with them. We probably felt this dilemma in our past – some of us felt alone with our “unrequited love”, or failed to sustain a relationship, or even found the right one. Nevertheless, the search does not end yet.
When it comes to our perception of what Love is, our culture has trained us to see one common pattern: relationship. We tend to see and associate Love with relationship for one basic reason – Love, by virtue, is about relationship. Unfortunately, most of us are misguided by what relationship really means. This was the basic issue explored in the topics I discussed on my recent interviews with some known radio stations in the Philippines. Most callers shared their major problems with their partners; others were puzzled of how we have viewed relationship. The common theme is that our troubles with relationships lie not with how we deal with our relationship per se, but on how we really understand the fundamentals of that very word.
Our concept of relationship is too romanticized: it refers to an ideal and perfect picture of achieving compatibility and mutual agreement. Relationship has been our major pursuit for personal meaning, making our possible partner a source of our inspiration. This concept is often magnified in many movies, soaps and romantic novels. We exhaust our time and energy in finding our true “soul mates” who can offer us the Love we need. We dream of sweet engagements and fairy tale weddings for we believe that these social conventions demonstrate the end-goal of Love. We have found the “right partner” and our world is complete. But again, the search does not end here.
Love, by virtue, is about relationship.
We can ask our parents and the people of their generation – even those of our own – on how their romantic ideals end up as disillusionment. No matter how idealized our relationship concepts were, what was left to us is a collective frustration. The picture of relationship we project is not really about relationship. Initially, we have thought that relationship is a matter of matchmaking, until we discover that we and our partners are totally different in tremendous ways. Second, we have thought that relationship is a matter of entitlement, wherein we can own our partners, control them on their decisions, compete with them through attention and abilities or deserve their “exclusive” Love. But such mentality has precisely ruined many relationships, even those we believe as “bound by God.”
One of the most striking lessons I have learned about relationship came from an unassuming author, James Redfield. He wrote the first paradox of relationship: “You will be much closer to having the relationship you want if you…can live satisfactorily without a relationship.” A statement like this is mind-blowing for many people who think that having a relationship is a saving grace. It has the equal impact to any person who thinks that they are not destined to have any relationship at all. How does this paradox works?
While this paradox is applicable across all relationships, I would single out romantic and marital relationships, for these two are twin forms with same nature. Of all relationships, they are really a big deal. This is because they are the only ones when people intimately unite at all levels of being: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Deeply encoded in our souls is a fervent desire to connect with all levels at the same time. The bonds we create or we want to create are undeniable precursors for finding our meaning in life. We have created cultures, traditions and conventions out of these exclusive relationships. Along with it, we perpetuate a concept of relationship that is more self-serving than supportive of mutual growth.
You are only ready to enter a relationship if you have transformed your concepts of it. Coming in union with another, you have grounded yourself with the true meaning of relationship: your partner is not your source of Love but someone whom you can share and co-create this feeling of deep fulfillment and happiness. That relationship is not about perfection, but of never-ending learning. That it is not about controlling the other, but allowing them to be and to become. That it is not about intense romantic emotion, but a decision to Love in every moment of your togetherness. That it is not about power over the other, but being present with each other’s presence. When you realize that your ultimate relationship is with the wholeness of yourself and not with the other, you are finally ready. When you understand this, you are always ready to Love.
Thanks to Ms. Cecille Lardizabal (Tambayan ni Maria, Saturdays, 10am, DZIQ 990AM), Ms. Jean Enriquez and friends (Aksyon Kababaihan, Thursdays, 10pm, DZRH 666AM), Ms. Linda Payno and friends (Imagine Inner Peace, Fridays, 10am, DZRJ 810AM) and Ms. Stargazer and staff (Pinoy Vibes, Sundays, 1am, DZMM 630AM) for insightful on-air conversations on Love and relationships last month.