There comes a time in a relationship when, if you’ve done your inner work, you see beyond all externals into the essence of a human being. Clients who are struggling with the attraction spike often ask me, “I’m constantly checking to see if I’m attracted to my partner, and when I’m not I get a pit in my stomach. Will the day ever come when I look at him/her and just find her attractive?” Not only will you find your partner attractive, but you’ll stop checking. At some point, when you’ve worked enough with fear walls and rejection/projection layers, your partner is just your partner, and when you look at him or her you’ll look through eyes that see at the level of being.
This reminds me of something a woman named Jill, who I interviewed for my book and again for my e-course, said when I asked how she saw her relationship with her husband:
“I see my relationship with Kevin right in there with my breathing. It’s not necessarily as essential to life but it’s as much a part of who I am. My relationship with Kevin is an expression of me. That third party, the marriage thing, is gone, there isn’t something else. Loving him is an expression of who I am.”
I conducted that interview over twenty years ago, and now, decades into my own marriage, I know exactly what she means. There’s an is-ness that happens in a healthy relationship over time. There’s a way in which you stop seeing the other person as separate in the best possible way, meaning you each have your own selves but relationship becomes or enfolds the two of you. And when this happens you stop looking at your partner through the lens of not-enough. It’s like you stop seeing them and start seeing them all in the same breath.
I know this may seem impossible for those of you stuck in an attraction or any “not enough” spike (not intelligent, social, funny, witty enough). We’re so profoundly brainwashed in our culture to focus on superficial physical attraction as the most important quality in a partner that it can seem daunting to turn this mindset on its head. Men, especially, often say things to me like, “Men are more visual. If I’m not physically attracted to my partner doesn’t that mean our relationship is doomed?” To which I respond, “Women are visual as well and if you weren’t attracted to your partner at the level of essence you wouldn’t be on my site trying to work through these projections.” I’ve seen countless men and women walk through this daunting gauntlet and emerge on the other side feeling real attraction and real love for their partner. But when they’re in the thick of it, it feels like the only thing they can do is run. The woman writing this letter says it well (and Polly’s response is brilliant):
“He is sensitive, kind, attentive, and doting. He is so very patient and loving with my child. Because of these traits, I find myself feeling less attracted to him physically. He seems meek. It is truly something sick. I have a hard time looking at him on occasion, because every little quiver, every timid step, every noise he makes while eating makes my skin crawl.”
Breaking through these projections is not easy work by any means. In fact, as I’ve said repeatedly, to engage truly and deeply with this path requires nothing less than a warrior’s mindset. How can it be easy to rewire a lifetime of conditioning that tells you what the perfect man or woman must look like or be like? How can it be easy to dig deep into your own history and realize that embedded inside these not-enough spikes is the pain around your own feelings of inadequacy that often arose in your adolescent years – the stories that told you that you weren’t attractive enough, smart enough, cool enough? To see another’s essence requires, on one level, that we clear away the cobwebs of our own stories until we catch at least a glimpse of our own light.
The key is to clear the doors of perception, the windows of your eyes that can become so clouded by the false values of the culture and your own fear-walls that were erected to protect your heart that you stop seeing clearly. “Fear eyes or clear eyes” remains a highly resonant phrase for much of my audience as it speaks to the distortions that occur when fear and doubt take over. What I’ve learned and continue to learn through my work and my marriage is that one of the fastest and most effective ways to shrink fear is to grow love. We can and must weed out the unwanted plants of fear – which often manifest as intrusive thoughts – but we can also work on the other side, meaning developing positive practices that grow love so that fear doesn’t have room to grow. If you fill your garden with flowers, you shade out the weeds. The same is true for the workings of our minds and hearts.
Originally published at conscious-transitions.com