I’ve always felt lonely in my romantic relationships.
Although I’ve been greatly loved, I tend to feel misunderstood at times.
I want to be seen. I want to be heard. I badly need to feel validated. In times of emotional turmoil, I want my partner to care and see what’s going on inside my heart.
And I’ve always been open about this; I express my needs and talk about the ones that haven’t been met. In the past, I thought that was enough. I thought my vulnerability and honesty would help me manifest the relationship I truly desire and deserve.
But something crucial was missing all along. The solution to manifesting a partner for life was simpler than I thought, but I was too busy striving to be understood that I overlooked one important fact.
Thich Nhat Hanh perfectly explains it in five powerful quotes:
“Training is needed in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice ‘deep looking’ directed toward the other person you love. Because if you do not understand this person, you cannot love properly. Understanding is the essence of love. If you cannot understand, you cannot love. That is the message of the Buddha.”
“We really have to understand the person we want to love. If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love. If we only think of ourselves, if we know only our own needs and ignore the needs of the other person, we cannot love.”
“Without understanding, your love is not true love. You must look deeply in order to see and understand the needs, aspirations, and suffering of the one you love.”
“No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.”
“The more we see, the more we understand. The more we understand, the easier it is for us to have compassion and love. Understanding is the source of love. Understanding is love itself. Understanding is another name for love; love is another name for understanding.”
The solution is to simply care about my partner. When I’m too focused on myself, I ignore the fact that my partner, too, needs love, validation, and understanding. First and foremost, I need to understand my partner before seeking to be understood. When I connect with his feelings and needs, he will automatically connect to mine.
This is true love: Giving our partner the gift of understanding.
I have realized that understanding where our partner comes from, why they feel the way they do, and why they act the way they do leads to deeper intimacy and connection. Instead of blaming them for annoying behaviors, we allow them to open up and locate where it hurts.
Because we’ve been conditioned to demand love and attention, we forget that our partners are human beings, too, with an emotional baggage that is full of traumas and wounds. We likely focus on the reactions they trigger within us, forgetting that we trigger reactions within them too.
Eventually, we lose clarity while trying to track down who is right and who is wrong.
In order to invite true understanding into our romantic relationships, we need to keep swinging between playing the role of a partner and the role of a friend. Know when to be a partner and know when to be a friend. Authentic friendships breed authentic relationships. Those two roles coexist.
Consequently, if you want a partner for life, you have to be willing to leave your own self for a few moments and leap into the other’s being—unconditionally and passionately. Enter their bodily sensations and look at things through their own lens.
Only then can we enjoy the little things about love and understand its true purpose.