by Robert Wilkinson
Happy Valentines Day. This year we'll re-visit some of what love, affection, boundaries, loyalties, seduction, and courtship are about, and some of what they're not.
(I wrote this last year, and have added more to flesh out some of the themes this year.)
We are told from a very high Spiritual Master of the Wisdom that "Right Relationship" is one of the key tasks we humans are learning throughout our lives on this Earth. All relationships teach us on-going lessons in finding and living our Highest Self.
Over time, through our willingness to interact with others, we find an endless variety of relationship experiences. Some of these are pleasurable and some are painful. How much they are either of these depends on what we've learned up to that point about repeating patterns and what we can do to change the ones that aren't good for us.
Our individual and mutual awareness when we're with others, and how we both respond to the dance between us, influences our experience with them. That's why examining and honoring "what brought us to the dance" to begin with can be a good reminder of why we're there and what we can bring out of the experience.
Sometimes what used to be pleasurable between two people becomes painful for a variety of reasons. It may or may not be personal, avoidable, or even the "fault" of one or the other. Life goes on, and we all grow in ways we may not have expected.
That's why just because we've danced with a Being for awhile doesn't mean we're necessarily supposed to dance with them indefinitely. Different seasons of life require different skills and realizations, and different people bring out different parts of our inner nature.
Of course, we can maintain relationships with those who share our Heart Fire even though we may be preoccupied with others in order to develop what we need to at that juncture of our life. Again, examining the dance with new people can help us gain perspective about what's right and/or not right in all of our existing relationships.
Often we meet people due to past karmas, while other times it's a choice made in the moment. Not everyone we meet was "destined," and many choices create who shows up and when.
I believe that many interactions and choices in our life must be chalked up to "it seemed like a good idea at the time." While we can still bring a higher awareness out of painful experiences, it's important to note that it is up to us to know when, to quote a well known phrase, it's time to "hold 'em, fold 'em, walk away or run..."
How long a relationship lasts is entirely up to how we treat each other, since even apparently good ones can turn sour due to all kinds of reasons. Some relationships are tested through circumstance that isn't the "fault" of either person. Here the trials of life can help people know more about their strengths and weaknesses.
That said, all relationships evolve as a result of how people behave toward each other. As we get to know someone, we see them exhibit many types of responses. While everyone has idiosyncrasies, it's important to discriminate between behavior that is harmless and behavior that is a true deal breaker. Regardless of points of view, we are never supposed to put up with non-loving, abusive, manipulative, or one-sided relationships.
One thing that is usually present in these types of toxic relationships is some element of seduction, or coercion. These can take many forms, and none will lead to healthy relationships. Seduction can feel very exciting, but as many of you already know, the wreckage isn't worth the price.
You can spot seductions by noticing if there are negotiations that involve you compromising something you believe in, or feel coerced into something that doesn't feel quite right. There may be elements of feeling like you're spinning your wheels, or that something is one-sided to the point where you know something's wrong, whether you can put your finger on it or not.
Other ways that indicate an element of seduction might be present include power games that leave you feeling that something is out of balance or even a sense of increasing powerlessness, or when you struggle with ideas or feelings that aren't ordinarily there when you're happy. Lies and deceptions that are justified by one to the detriment of the other always shows a seduction.
I do not believe any relationship can last where one is undermining the other, creating dependencies or self-doubt, or diminishing the sense of love we have for ourselves. When we feel these are happening, if we dig a little deeper we usually find at least one of various kinds of narcissistic behavior being forced on us.
Narcissism is not self love. It is vanity attached to an impermanent form that exalts the false sense of self over any true feeling of love. Throughout our lives we encounter different experiences of both Higher Love and lower desires, we learn the difference between how these feel, and how not to be seduced into attachments and affections that leave us feeling badly..
Remember our true Eternal nature is Unconditional Love, Wisdom, and Intelligence. As we embrace our Higher Self these higher qualities of our Soul-Spirit will become more evident in our actions, feelings, and thoughts.
As we embrace this higher "self love," we find it's directly related to our ability to love "God," our Truth of Being, and our community of loving Souls. These are solid reference points where we find gateways to a Higher Love. When we're oriented toward our higher Love, we cannot be seduced away from that which supports and demonstrates our Soul.
All relationships show us what we do and do not like or admire, or perhaps need to learn to like or admire. Sometimes this functions through positive experiences, sometimes through negative ones. Sometimes in our friendships we simply must tolerate some relatively harmless dislikes so we can grow in how we respond to that which is unfamiliar or not quite our cup of tea.
Others also go through this in their relationship to us. We usually don't have problems with what we both like; the rub in relationships is what one or both don't like. That's where small frictions become the grist for the mill of Soul, where we both learn the art of give and take.
This shows us how to maintain balanced loving friendships with those who share our deeper feelings and thoughts regardless of our disagreement in particulars. Small frictions should never lead to a violation of boundaries, free will, or our sense of loving God and each other. If we feel these are violated, then usually coercion is present, usually in the form of a seduction.
We owe it to ourselves to be treated with respect, love, affection, and friendliness. As we learn to embrace and demonstrate these qualities in our personality, we simultaneously learn to recognize these in a conscious way in our circumstances and relationships.
As we live these higher qualities the best we're able, we are given opportunities to offer these to others as well in a wide variety of ways appropriate to our interactive magnetism. Ultimately, the more we treat ourselves with respect, love, affection, and friendliness, even in our human fallibility, the easier it gets to offer them to our world on a consistent basis.
Whether spontaneous or learned, we can all grow into a greater love, respect, affection, and friendliness toward others with no hidden agendas to mess up the interaction. When there are hidden agendas, there are usually elements of seduction present.
Seductions are never harmless, since there is usually some manipulation that goes along with it. Once we get beyond seducing and being seduced, we neither manipulate nor can be manipulated. This leads to cultivating the virtues of detachment, dispassion, and discrimination even as it allows us to generate whatever good we feel is appropriate for us, another, or our world.
For more about how to recognize the difference between courtship and seduction, here's a post from Valentines past: Happy Valentine's Day - Courtship v. Seduction. If you haven't read it before (and even if you have), please check it out, since it covers a lot more than I've offered here.
So wherever you are, Happy Valentines Day! May you all be inspired to find the Higher Love that attracts truly loving friends and companions so that all may find what they need to nourish and strengthen their Soul connections.
© Copyright 2011 Robert Wilkinson