I was challenged the other week. Do I have a type? When people answer this question, they typically do so in a very surface-level and superficial manner, “Yes. I like girls that are athletic, have blond hair, are smart, funny, beautiful etc.” But have you ever “fallen” for someone who potentially doesn’t meet this superficial “type”? Perhaps they were a brunette. Perhaps they had brown eyes instead of blue eyes. Perhaps they were a little more solid than your athletic “type”. The reason for this is because these physical characteristics, these attributes, they don’t determine your “type”. When you fall for someone, you don’t fall for their smile, or their eyes, why? Because chances are, there are millions of people in this world who have a beautiful smile or beautiful eyes, yet you’re not “in love” with them. That’s because when you fall for someone, you fall for something about them that is completely unique to them, something that separates them from everyone else. Or perhaps, it’s deeper than that. Perhaps you fall for them because they are your “type”. Alright, I’ve mentioned “type” now numerous times, what the hell am I talking about? We all have one. At least for those of us who are unconsciously living and unaware that we do indeed have one. The person I was having this conversation with has a type because of who she seemingly perceives herself as: a people pleaser. And a people pleaser’s type? Angry partners. This might seem like a broad type and it is, but it reflects something deep within our own personality and our own needs. As a people pleaser, you naturally want to please your partner. Now if you’re with a submissive partner, there’s not really a challenge in that, is there? But if you’re with someone who is angry and thus hard to please, it then becomes a challenge, a project if you will. And this project becomes an addiction. You become addicted to attempting to please the other person and typically, without success and at a high cost to yourself. But, that is what you’re attracted to. That is your type.
So what is my type? Let’s look at who I am and some of my attributes. I’m a giver, so I perhaps want someone who is receptive to my “giving” nature, a receiver if you will. But a dominating attribute of mine is to nurture. I love love. And I love with my entire heart. And naturally, I want to take care of the ones I love. This is destructive. And let me tell you why. When I first met Rachel (my ex), the energy I felt from her was overwhelming. I could feel her pain. This girl had evidently been through a lot and she had a sensitivity about her because of this pain. I was awestruck. Fuck. I loved this girl and I didn’t even know her. And immediately I said to myself, All I want to do is look after her. And love her. And nurture her. I want to take care of her. Some might say that my type then is the “broken” type, but I disagree. My intention, granted unconscious, is not to “fix” this person, because I know better than that. I know you cannot “fix” anyone. Shit, it’s hard enough to “fix” yourself. My intention, however, is to love the individual in such a way that provides them with the environment to fix themselves. A nurturing environment. Sounds noble, right? There’s a big, big flaw in this mentality though. And that’s because I neglect to ask myself this, Who’s going to look after me?
I found myself with a little more awareness in my proceeding relationship. When I first met this individual, there wasn’t that sense of pain or dependency in her – she was a strong, independent, and very well-rounded individual. Which was unusual to me, because I had believed what others had said in regards to being attracted to people who are “dependent” and in need of “help”. This individual, however, wasn’t in need of any help or any saving. So I established that the “saviour” complex was not part of my type. After getting to know this individual, I recall her stating that in previous relationships, all she did was take care of her partners and they didn’t really take care of her. She was tired. She wanted to be taken care of. Annnnnnd that was it. I was hooked. That was my entrance point. I could love this girl extremely well. I know I can. I want to show her that I can take care of her. And that’s what I set forth to do. I even stated such to her. Again, sounds noble right? To devote oneself entirely to taking care of your partner? Noble is the equivalent of destructive. Because if you set forth to take care of someone else with your entirety, you have nothing left to take care of yourself. And much like people accept particular roles, like a former giver might accept becoming a receiver when partnered with a more dominant giver (in the case of Rachel and I), people accept being taken care of and can often neglect to consider their partner’s needs. This creates an imbalanced, destructive relationship. I recall catching myself when I thought this, that I could love her so well, and asked myself, Well who’s going to love me? Who’s going to take care of me? I somehow convinced myself that all of my needs were being met, and if they weren’t being met currently, I would justify it and say, Well it’s just the situation and it will be different when x, y, and z happen. Wrong. Is there some flexibility in a relationship in the sense that at times, you might have to give more than your partner, but then at other times, your partner gives more than you? Absolutely. But it’s about establishing a balance. And holding on to the belief that things will change in the future, that’s a red flag. You either have evidence to suggest this is a temporary phase or you don’t. And if you don’t, things can become destructive. Given this situation, I found myself at times wanting to give up and just find someone who would look after me. Maybe date a guy. A guy because guys are stereotypically believed to be strong. But I knew this wasn’t a solution. Because the core problem persists: an imbalance. And balance is essential for maintaining a flourishing relationship.
So now that I’ve established what my type is, what can I do? Well, awareness is key. Knowing that this is the type I have seemingly been attracted to in my past, I can hopefully identify those core thoughts that are seemingly noble, but ultimately destructive. Once I identify them, I can make a choice. Do I continue feeding this unproductive pattern or do I consciously end it through awareness and establishing clear boundaries? Is this person looking after me, too, or am I just attracted to them because they allow me to fulfil this nurturing role?
Something that I’ve also learnt recently is that I no longer want to find someone who gives me “butterflies” or who makes me feel things deeply when I meet them. Why, might you ask? When you make connections based on these seemingly deep connections, they seem unquestionably and overwhelmingly good at first. Because, well, they are. The feelings are intense. Everyone remembers their first love, right? The hormones. The infatuation. The feeling of being “in love”. All of that is addictive. But unhealthy. If you recall in one of my earlier posts, I mention that you cannot have good without bad, much like you can’t have bad without good. I also mention that the more extreme the bad, the more intense the good. What makes relationships an exception? Remember a relationship when things were intensely good at the start, and then suddenly, or perhaps over time, things became extremely toxic? Why do we think that love is immune to experiencing the two extremes of “good” and “bad”? Because it’s an illusion. We seemingly believe that things can be good all the time and neglect to acknowledge that we can’t experience “good” without “bad”; they coexist. Yet we seem shocked when the opposite, “bad”, arises. I want to share with you a few pages from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle which inspired this somewhat already manifested thought.
Unless and until you access the consciousness frequency of presence, all relationships, and particularly intimate relationships, are deeply flawed and ultimately dysfunctional. They may seem perfect for a while, such as when you are “in love,” but invariably that apparent perfection gets disrupted as arguments, conflicts, dissatisfaction, and emotional or even physical violence occur with increasing frequency. It seems that most "love relationships" become love/hate relationships before long. Love can then turn into savage attack, feelings of hostility, or complete withdrawal of affection at the flick of a switch. This is considered normal. The relationship then oscillates for a while, a few months or a few years, between the polarities of "love" and hate, and it gives you as much pleasure as it gives you pain. It is not uncommon for couples to become addicted to those cycles. Their drama makes them feel alive. When a balance between the positive/negative polarities is lost and the negative, destructive cycles occur with increasing frequency and intensity, which tends to happen sooner or later, then it will not be long before the relationship finally collapses.
It may appear that if you could only eliminate the negative or destructive cycles, then all would be well and the relationship would flower beautifully - but alas, this is not possible. The polarities are mutually interdependent. You cannot have one without the other. The positive already contains within itself the as yet unmanifested negative. Both are in fact different aspects of the same dysfunction. I am speaking here of what is commonly called romantic relationships - not of true love, which has no opposite because it arises from beyond the mind. Love as a continuous state is as yet very rare - as rare as conscious human beings. Brief and elusive glimpses of love, however, are possible whenever there is a gap in the stream of mind.
The negative side of a relationship is, of course, more easily recognizable as dysfunctional than the positive one. And it is also easier to recognize the source of negativity in your partner than to see it in yourself. It can manifest in many forms: possessiveness, jealousy, control, withdrawal and unspoken resentment, the need to be right, insensitivity and self-absorption, emotional demands and manipulation, the urge to argue, criticize, judge, blame, or attack, anger, unconscious revenge for past pain inflicted by a parent, rage and physical violence.
On the positive side, you are "in love" with your partner. This is at first a deeply satisfying state. You feel intensely alive. Your existence has suddenly become meaningful because someone needs you, wants you, and makes you feel special, and you do the same for him or her. When you are together, you feel whole. The feeling can become so intense that the rest of the world fades into insignificance.
However, you may also have noticed that there is a neediness and a clinging quality to that intensity. You become addicted to the other person. He or she acts on you like a drug. You are on a high when the drug is available, but even the possibility or the thought that he or she might no longer be there for you can lead to jealousy, possessiveness, attempts at manipulation through emotional blackmail, blaming and accusing - fear of loss. If the other person does leave you, this can give rise to the most intense hostility or the most profound grief and despair. In an instant, loving tenderness can turn into a savage attack or dreadful grief. Where is the love now? Can love change into its opposite in an instant? Was it love in the first place, or just an addictive grasping and clinging?
ADDICTION AND THE SEARCH FOR WHOLENESS
But then that special relationship comes along. It seems to be the answer to all the ego's problems and to meet all its needs. At least this is how it appears at first. All the other things that you derived your sense of self from before, now become relatively insignificant. You now have a single focal point that replaces them all, gives meaning to your life, and through which you define your identity, the person you are "in love" with. You are no longer a disconnected fragment in an uncaring universe, or so it seems. Your world now has a center. the loved one. The fact that the center is outside you and that, therefore, you still have an externally derived sense of self does not seem to matter at first. What matters is that the underlying feelings of incompleteness, of fear, lack and unfulfillment so characteristic of the egoic state are no longer there - or are they? Have they dissolved, or do they continue to exist underneath the happy surface reality?
If in your relationships you experience both "love" and the opposite of love - attack, emotional violence, and so on - then it is likely that you are confusing ego attachment and addictive clinging with love. You cannot love your partner one moment and attack him or her the next. True love has no opposite. If your "love" has an opposite, then it is not love but a strong ego-need for a more complete and deeper sense of self, a need that the other person temporarily meets. It is the ego's substitute for salvation, and for a short time it almost does feel like salvation.
But there comes a point when your partner behaves in ways that fail to meet your needs, or rather those of your ego. The feelings of fear, pain, and lack that are an intrinsic part of egoic consciousness but had been covered up by the "love relationship" now resurface. Just as with every other addiction, you are on a high when the drug is available, but invariably there comes a time when the drug no longer works for you. When those painful feelings reappear, you feel them even more strongly than before, and what is more, you now perceive your partner as the cause of those feelings. This means that you project them outward and attack the other with all the savage violence that is part of your pain. This attack may awaken the partner's own pain, and he or she may counter your attack. At this point, the ego is still unconsciously hoping that its attack or its attempts at manipulation will be sufficient punishment to induce your partner to change their behavior, so that it can use them again as a cover-up for your pain.
Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to - alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person - you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain. That is why, after the initial euphoria has passed, there is so much unhappiness, so much pain in intimate relationships. They do not cause pain and unhappiness. They bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in you. Every addiction does that. Every addiction reaches a point where it does not work for you anymore, and then you feel the pain more intensely than ever.
For some of you, reading this might be extremely difficult, which perhaps suggests your ego is creating resistance to what Tolle is discussing. For others, this might resonate with you suggesting you have already commenced this spiritual journey. In regards to what Tolle has written, I was fortunate to experience a glimpse of this. I don’t want to call it “true love” because that is my ego’s need to label it and thus, identify with it. When meeting the last individual I was seeing, I did not experience that overwhelmingly powerful sense of want and need. I enjoyed her company, and she mine. I was content with just being and not labelling whatever we were. I wasn’t attached to her, and nor her to me. It just was what it was. This lasted about a month, maybe two until we spent significant time together. After this time, and an amazing time at that, something had shifted within me. And it was my ego. I was now attached to her and this “feeling”. I wanted to be with her. I was clingy. Needy. And ultimately, suffering because I couldn’t have what I wanted. I was no longer content with just “being.” This state arose to, much like Tolle discussed, conflicts and dissatisfaction. I fortunately withdrew myself from the situation because I sensed the imbalance within. I could no longer serve her and nor she to me given my need for more. So ultimately, my ego hindered the procession of this interaction.
So although this interaction did not have the fairytale ending with both of us remaining in each other’s lives, it was my first experience of something pure. Something beyond the realm of wanting and needing. Something conscious. Something that was balanced. Something that contributed to a higher sense of self and being. Something that truly brought out an inner peace in both her and I. To me, that is what true love is. I am beyond grateful to have experienced that, and albeit brief, it awakened me to the kind of interactions I hope to have in the future. The kind of partner I hope to share my life with.
The “true love” that Tolle discusses is not confined to intimate relationships and can exist within the realms of friendships. And I have experienced that. Just the other day I was spending time with my Norwegian friend, Ida, and we were discussing this. We discussed how much we enjoy each other’s company because it’s as though we’re receiving all the reinforcement from social interaction, whilst also feeling like we’re alone and not spending time with anyone. This is seemingly a paradox, but in reality, it’s a compliment to our connection – we both feel completely at peace within ourselves in the others’ presence. We do not feel obligated to entertain or act a certain way, instead we allow the other to just be whilst also just being ourselves. To me, these are the interactions I encourage and attempt to surround myself around. I attempt to surround myself with individuals that I do not have to feel “on” with, who accept me wholeheartedly, and who are not attached to me in any way. What do I mean by this? Within friendships, it’s common for a party to become upset when they haven’t heard from another friend in a while – it’s as though the friend needs to contact the other friend to maintain that friendship. But, as Tolle discusses, this is not then “true love” because true love has no opposite. It has no needs. It has no wants. All it has is acceptance, “The greatest catalyst for change in a relationship is complete acceptance of your partner as he or she is, without needing to judge or change them in any way,” (Tolle, p. 154). Remember that saying, “Someone will love you just the way you are,”? Well, if someone tries to change you, ask yourself this, Is this the kind of love I want? The kind of love in which I cannot be myself? If my partner is trying to change me, does he/she really love me, then? Is this really love at all? Love, to me, is a wholehearted acceptance of another individual. It’s unconditional. But it can only be achieved through consciousness and diffusion of the ego.
So what can I challenge you with today? Firstly, I challenge you to determine what your type is. And if you don’t know, ask a friend. Or ask a therapist. Really consider the people you have been attracted to and what it was about them that lured you in. Look beyond their physical and superficial characteristics. Who did you become when you were with them? Did you become submissive? Are you attracted then, to dominant, authoritarian, and controlling figures? Once you determine your type you can be aware of it moving forward. This awareness is key in preventing potentially toxic cycles from repeating themselves. My next challenge to you is to not go for the individual that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but to the individual who makes you feel nothing. Because within nothing is peace. Stillness. True love. A love that has no opposite. The kind of love that continues to serve you, rather than oscillating between love and hate and destructive cycles. Because remember, if things can be that good, they can, and will, also be that bad. Good cannot exist without bad; they coexist and are interdependent on one another. And if you are in a relationship right now that fluctuates between these cycles, I challenge you to bring forth presence and not to react to your partner’s ego. Being in the Now is the surest way to eradicate the ego and its unconscious manifestation. Without the ego, there is no pain. There is no suffering. There is just love.