When I read The Power of Now almost 10 years ago, I knew my life would never be the same again.
Not only did I learn about the importance of the present moment, I also learned about the ego, the mind, pain, negativity, enlightenment, and…romantic relationships.
Eckhart Tolle was the first author who let me see my intimate relationships for what they were: full of clinging, blaming, attacking, criticizing, jealousy, judging, and self-absorption. Most of all, they were governed by a fear of loss that was intense and uncontrollable.
At the time, I was going through a horrible breakup, and as Tolle says in chapter eight, I was “addicted” to the other person. I could clearly see that what I had thought was love was an addiction in disguise. It was a terrible need to feel “complete,” present, and worthy.
Reading Tolle’s book made me rethink why I enter romantic relationships: Was I really falling in love or failing in love? Were my intimate relationships genuine?
Among hundreds of quotes that have reshaped my life, there is one that struck me to my core:
“If you cannot be at ease with yourself when you are alone, you will seek a relationship to cover up your unease. You can be sure that the unease will then reappear in some other form within the relationship, and you will probably hold your partner responsible for it.”
But reading The Power of Now was certainly not enough to stop me from pursuing romantic relationships to cover up my inner discomfort, self-hatred, and loneliness; it was only the beginning.
Although all my relationships were happy and successful at the beginning, at some point I would feel loneliness and dissatisfaction creeping in. But I never thought about the possibility that I could be the reason behind my own unhappiness. Pointing the finger was way easier than looking within.
It took me years of emotional suffering and many battles with my ego to understand that a romantic relationship could never bring me real, genuine, long-lasting happiness. We have to understand that when we enter relationships from a place of fear and despair, then ultimately our partner will trigger us and push our buttons until, eventually, our love will turn into hate.
Quoting Tolle, “The unease will reappear in some other form.” The person who was so perfect for us a few months ago might suddenly become full of flaws and imperfections.
So what’s the solution? If romantic relationships only strengthen our false sense of self, how do we get into them?
Understand that love won’t change how we feel about ourselves.
Getting into a relationship to terminate our feelings of loneliness or low self-esteem will only fix our insecurities temporarily. Eventually, the way we see ourselves now will highly affect how we see our relationship and partner in the future.
If we want a healthy and conscious relationship, we need to understand that our partner is only an extension of our preexisting happiness. They can’t shake or demolish the base; they can’t alter it either. That said, to grow with another person, we need to grow individually too. We need to make space for love, kindness, empathy, altruism, and understanding.
Fill your own emotional cup—because no one can (or will) fill it up for you.