Love or fear–it’s your choice…

George Addair, a contemporary thought leader and devout advocate for the betterment of the human condition who passed away in 2012, is known for a short, powerful quote about mankind’s self-limiting nature:

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

While myriad quotes are variations on this core idea (and it’s likely that Addair’s quote itself is his spin on notions advanced by his influencers), in my opinion this one’s noteworthy for the blast radius of its impact. Get past fear and what you want is available to you. Elemental, potent, and true.

fear-and-love

Given our use of the term Everything, applying a bit of reductivism to Addair’s already-concise quote yields:

“Everything is on the other side of fear.”

What fears prevent people from connecting with their Everything, their True Love relationship?

There are easily as many as grains of sand on a beach. A few headliners:  I’m not good-looking enough. Not wealthy enough. Too old. Not witty enough, thin enough, smart enough, educated enough, charming enough, worldly enough, fit enough. I don’t have a flashy enough car, a nice enough house, a great career, a stylish enough wardrobe, enough hair…

The above are just the tippety-top of the tip of the iceberg. They can pertain to people who are either in a non-Everything relationship, or who aren’t in a relationship at all.

Then there are fears specific to those who are in non-Everything relationships but afraid to end them. A small sampling:

What if I don’t find someone better and end up alone? Will my kid/s suffer if I leave my marriage? Will I be able to make ends meet on my own? Will I be viewed as “damaged goods?” Will leaving devastate my husband/wife?

Fear’s primary value is to keep us alive. But beyond fight-or-flight, life-or-death situations, paying undue heed to fear results in simply existing, instead of living. The tagline of my favorite film, “The Shawshank Redemption,” is:

Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.

A slight tweak yields a statement specific to love, to the possibility of loving at 10/10 and experiencing that awesome reality:

Fear can hold you captive. Love can set you free.

I acknowledge that fear is a pervasive thing, and difficult to move past. Yet if you aspire to an Everything relationship, yearn for a Love so pure and True that it will empower and elevate you and everything you touch, forever, you have to be willing to let go of the fears that are holding you back.

If you’re in a non-Everything relationship, doing so could mean turbulence, disruption, conflict, instability, compromises in terms of lifestyle, and many other things that may prove challenging. But there is no other way to Everything, to True Love.

If you choose to remain paralyzed by fear–and it is a choice–understand a simple truth: you are keeping yourself and everyone connected to your present circumstances from the possibility of a better reality.

I chose not to let my existence be ruled by fear. And by so doing I found my Everything with an amazing woman. If you’re hoping to find your Everything, your True Love, you have the same choice ahead of you. It’s only by letting go of fear that you’ll be able to be at and give your best–to offer Everything to another.

And guess what? It’s only when you’re willing to offer Everything that you’ll receive it. The giving and receiving of Everything is so singularly, incomparably amazing that I’m committed to helping others experience it themselves. That’s why this blog exists.

Does this mean that you’ll need to step outside of your comfort zone? If it’s Everything that you seek, almost certainly. A couple paragraphs up I mentioned that the ongoing choice of fear can keep you and those connected to you from the possibility of a better reality. For most of us, confronting fear decidedly means stepping out of our comfort zones.

So is there a chance that you could decide to step outside of your comfort zone, commit to live in and as love, yet not find your Everything? I can only speak of my own experience, and based on that my recommendation is that you open your heart and let it guide you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what happens.

Why “Cheating” Isn’t Inherently a Bad Thing

Why do people “cheat” on their partners? Pretty loaded question, that. While this post will tackle the subject from an intellectual perspective, a high percentage of adults (myself included) have direct, and therefore a subjective/emotional experience of this widespread reality.

Stats vary quite widely but the median indicates that over 50% of both men and women–at least those who’ve participated in surveys about infidelity–have been unfaithful at some point in their lives (men 57%, women 54%).

What gives? Since it’s pretty rampant, lots of ink has been devoted to the topic, ranging from the sensationalistic (think Cosmopolitan magazine) to the more psychologically oriented (Psychology Today). Given the near parity across the gender line, it’s clear that both sexes are looking for something outside their relationships in roughly equal numbers.

Let’s take the example of a married man–hell, let’s even give him a couple of young kids–who comes on to female coworker, much to her dismay since she’s a) not interested and b) feels the experience is more proof of her theory that men simply can’t be trusted.

source:

source: myinterestingfacts.com

Why would the guy do this? Well, while it’s likely that he finds his coworker attractive, there are probably hundreds if not thousands of possible specific, detailed “reasons,” with dissatisfaction or unhappiness the root cause of the vast majority of them. Even if you advance the idea that the guy’s self-sabotaging/self-destructive, why is he that way? More likely than not because he’s unhappy or dissatisfied.

A closer look at “unhappy or dissatisfied” is necessary here. Someone who is either of these things could be 1) individually unfulfilled or dissatisfied with their life and generally satisfied with their partner and relationship, 2) individually fulfilled and satisfied but unhappy or dissatisfied with their partner, or 3) individually unfulfilled/dissatisfied and unhappy/dissatisfied with their partner.

In the case of #1, someone who’s unfulfilled in their own life may very well look outside of themselves hoping someone else will provide that sense of happiness and fulfillment. While they may be satisfied with their current relationship, they may simultaneously feel that someone else might “make them happier.” Truth be told this dynamic probably applies to a seriously high percentage of the planet’s adult population whose basic needs for food, shelter, etc. are met and who are in a relationship. So, unwilling (typically subconsciously) to take responsibility for their own contentment/fulfillment/happiness, they look to others to provide it.

In our example, the guy probably feels his wife is no longer “making him happy.” As long as he continues to look outside of himself instead of within for his happiness and fulfillment, he’ll never enjoy an Everything relationship. Without making that inner change, he could successfully woo his coworker, fall for her and vice versa, leave his wife and marry her…and then find himself contemplating repeating the cycle after the novelty and excitement of the new relationship wear off and he again feels unhappy/dissatisfied.

With respect to #2, this is someone who’s individually fulfilled and happy but feels their relationship is lacking and probably doesn’t have the potential to improve. Those in this category remain in their relationships for reasons like financial security, fear of the unknown (better the devil you know than the one you don’t…), fear of being alone, the misguided sense that staying in a relationship you and very possibly your partner are unhappy with is “best for the kid/s,” and the equally misguided sense that ending the relationship would be more hurtful to their partner than ending it and giving everyone a chance at a better reality. Rather than being willing to throw “everything” away by having an affair, those in this category are actually hoping to find their relationship Everything. If they were enjoying Everything already they wouldn’t be making sexual/romantic overtures to others, or accepting them. It’s as simple as that.

#3 is pretty self-explanatory. Someone in this situation is individually unhappy and unfulfilled and dissatisfied with their relationship. The old adage “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” speaks to this person.

While the above suggests relationship satisfaction and longevity are probably the exception more than the rule, given the general amount of dissatisfaction floating around these days, as mentioned above there is one type of person who wouldn’t consider cheating on their partner, and probably only one type of person: someone who’s in an Everything relationship.

Those lucky enough to have found their True Love and Everything fully feel that there is literally nothing more they could possibly want from a romantic partner. Every aspect of an Everything relationship fires on all cylinders with a constant twin-turbo boost. The upshot: no one in an Everything relationship would be unfaithful to their partner. Under any circumstances. Including any scenario where there’s no way their partner would ever find out about their infidelity.

The words used to describe the act of a romantic partner looking outside their relationship for something more are primarily pejorative: Cheating, Betrayal, Infidelity, Unfaithfulness. While the act undoubtedly may cause one’s partner pain and sadness, I’m wholeheartedly of the opinion that staying in the relationship causes much greater pain and sadness, as continuing to exist in a non-Everything relationship denies everyone a chance at a better reality. So it’s wrong to paint the person who chooses to look outside a non-Everything relationship for their chance at Everything in a wholly negative light, since they are acting in the best interests of everyone involved.

Ideally when someone comes to the realization that their current relationship isn’t their Everything and never will be, they decisively and compassionately bring that relationship to a conclusion, after which they’re free and clear to pursue their Everything. When that ideal doesn’t happen, it’s typically because the person looking outside their current situation is impacted by fear, as covered a few paragraphs earlier.

But having the awareness that your current relationship isn’t and won’t ever be your Everything yet remaining in it, that’s a decision that deserves the pejorative “cheating,” as you are actively cheating your partner, yourself, and any children you and your partner have together out of a better reality. While the ideal “better reality” would of course be an Everything relationship, in actuality even being alone for a while, perhaps taking the time to define what your Everything relationship specifically looks like, is better than remaining in a non-Everything relationship–for all concerned.

None of this means that I condone stepping out on one’s partner. What I condone and encourage is not dragging out a non-Everything relationship out of fear. If you are certain you don’t and never will have Everything with your current partner, compassionately, lovingly bring the relationship to a close so that they, any children you have together, and you yourself can connect with a better reality.

 

 

 

 

The Two Basic Reasons Relationships Don’t Result in Everything

So you’ve met a phenomenal person you’re quite romantically excited about and vice-versa, and things are off to a strong start. While there are infinite possible ways to meet and begin a relationship, once underway there are only two possible eventual outcomes: you either end up together forever, enjoying Everything, or you don’t.

While there can be myriad variations of and details associated with “you don’t”–all those whys and why nots–there really are only two underlying scenarios that can lead to that outcome. From the guy’s perspective, they are:

Wrong girl, Right time

Wrong girl, Wrong time

Completing the spectrum of scenarios that either lead to Everything or don’t, from the standpoint of a guy seeking his Everything, the desired outcome is obviously:

Right girl, Right time

Anyone who thinks in a symmetrical/completist manner may wonder if a possible variation is missing on the non-Everything side, namely Right Girl, Wrong Time–the culturally ingrained “the one who got away.”

There isn’t. Quite simply, if you don’t wind up together in a lifelong relationship characterized by True Love, she was not the Right Girl for you, period. No matter that you were together for a few years, were married, have children together, etc. She is not the one who got away. The Right Girl does not “get away.” In other words, having your Right Girl is fully synonymous with having your relationship Everything. Except in the case of an untimely passing, one cannot have had Everything.

Each of the two non-RR scenarios has variations:

  • In WR, you could realize she’s not your Everything, or she could realize you’re not her Everything. Or both of those things could happen. This could occur soon after the start of a new relationship, or after a lot of water’s gone under the bridge. In either case, you are ready for your Everything—she’s just not it.
  • In WW there are a few permutations, from her being the wrong girl at the wrong time from your perspective to the opposite, to a mix of those.

RR is quite straightforward. It is, simply, Everything in both directions, i.e. True Love. Crack out the Cristal and toast to your mutual good fortune!

Zooming in a bit on the concept of Wrong time, there can obviously be a range of considerations that make the timing component unfavorable. You or she could be dealing with a health issue, an emotionally all-consuming family situation, a period of intense financial difficulty (this characterized my situation for several years, during which, in addition to having scant resources for dating, I also questioned the likelihood of an RR situation arising for me). It also sometimes happens that you meet a potential soulmate while either you or she isn’t entirely unattached, relationship wise.

For guys, it should be fairly evident that the most difficult scenario is the version of Wrong Girl, Right Time where the sense that she’s not the right girl comes from her, not from you. Regardless of the specifics of a given WR situation, though, the result can be a dynamic where you, she, or both of you are biding time, i.e. hanging onto what you can of the relationship while you, she, or both of you keep an eye out for what’s next. We’ll cover the perils of biding time in a future post.

While the WR and WW scenarios are sometimes easily identifiable, or manifest quickly, it can also take time for what you thought/hoped was a RR relationship to resolve into either WR or WW. This can take mere weeks…or decades. Basically, those of us looking for Everything may view new relationships through RR-colored lenses–we so very much want to find our Everything!–especially in cases where we haven’t precisely defined the nature of the Everything we seek.

Similarly, RR can also take time to congeal. In cases where RR becomes the outcome, sometimes you may know it in your heart of hearts from early on but that awareness is not as quick in coming for her, vice-versa, or you both arrive at that conclusion, and not always simultaneously, after being together for a while. There’s no preferred path to RR. Here, as in most things, results trump process.

While the “True Love at first sight” version of RR is clearly the most unabashedly romantic and whimsical, RRs arising from that rather rare circumstance are functionally no different than RRs that take a bit more time to manifest.

Since Everything can’t be forced, it’s best not to over-analyze your relationship to the point where you suck all enjoyment out of the present moment, and/or apply undue pressure on your potential soulmate, yourself, and the situation in general. Because by doing so you run the risk of turning a potential RR into a WR. Instead, be true to yourself and follow your heart. If she’s your Everything, and vice-versa, this approach will yield positive results.

image credit: http://www.sharonebardavid.com

Everything or Nothing

Romantic relationships come in infinite forms, comprised of a multiplicity of attributes, including but hardly limited to degrees of emotional intimacy, love, friendship, trust, physical intimacy, loyalty, sexual attraction, respect, shared interests, common goals, honesty, fun, and many more.

Regardless of the specific ingredients, the overall spectrum of the quality of relationships, from bad to good, goes from unhealthy/dysfunctional–of which there are also myriad varieties–to True Love, that most rarified, desired, vaunted form of romantic connectedness that joins two people in a way that simultaneously blurs the line between them yet bolsters them individually, that only gets more exciting, deeper, and more heartlifting, more amazing over time. And while there are varying degrees of being in a romantic relationship there are really only two possible statuses: in one or not in one.

Toothbrushes

If you believe that True Love is not only possible, but possible for you–if it’s something you want insist on having in your life, then there’s only one route to take: Everything or Nothing. Defining what and who you want as your ideal romantic partner and refusing to compromise is the only way to get to Everything. Concepts like “enough” or “good enough” need not apply, as they won’t get you there. Equally important: knowing who you are and being willing to offer Everything fearlessly and authentically.

There’s long been a movement out there in the Self-Actualization universe revolving around the concept of learning to want what you have. Outside of the one relationship scenario where this strategy makes sense, namely the case of not having previously grasped that what/who you have actually does represent your Everything, so you come to the realization that you actually already do have exactly what you want, actively accepting less is a surefire pathway to disappointment. Granted, it may take years, even decades, for the realization that your relationship isn’t an Everything relationship to set in, but given how brief our time is, is spending any more of it than necessary in a relationship that you know is somehow lacking really the best approach? (this topic will be further explored in an upcoming post)  I suppose that depends on your priorities and your sense of what you deserve.

My pathway to my relationship Everything is an interesting and circuitous one. It involved a late start with respect to sex (virginity lost junior year of college), a first love that led to marriage, then parenthood quickly followed by divorce. Then a near-miss with marriage to the wrong woman. Followed by a more-than-five-year period of dating and not dating, that chunk of time most notable for my having only at the very end of it defined who it is that I want as a romantic partner. Sometimes I look back in amazement that I dated sporadically for over five years without having defined who and what I wanted in terms of a woman and a relationship!

In retrospect it’s absolutely no surprise to me that I didn’t find my relationship Everything until after I–duh!–defined it. Then, probably about six months later, a woman walked into my life who embodied it to a tee. She and I now reflect on the two chance encounters that set in motion our eventual togetherness, how strong and heartlifting our connection was from the very beginning. Strong enough to power us through complicated and at times trying circumstances. As I write this post we’ve been together for eighteen months, and our connection continues to grow and deepen, our excitement about being with each other, our wonder, sense of awe, and gratitude about having found each other, continues to go only one way: up. And that’s the only way it will go, forever. About that neither of us have any doubt.

The Love of My Life, Lien, and I are living proof that it’s possible to have your relationship Everything. If you’re not in a relationship and feel the beck and call of True Love, sensing in your heart that it’s out there for you, the first step is to define who you are, and the next is to define who and what you want, what you deserve, romantically speaking. Then think about the latter (who/what) nonstop. Visualize it, dream it, manifest it. And trust that it will happen. Your unwavering conviction and certainty will ensure that it does. Then be willing to give Everything, knowing that it’s the contentedness and bliss associated with that–the giving–that will create the environment for your partner to do the same, each of you offering your unique gifts in a selfless, fearless way, without expectation of any return or reciprocation. It’s this that nourishes True Love, that allows it to be ever expanding, ever deepening,

If you’re in a relationship and have come to the realization that your partner and the situation do not represent an Everything dynamic, and never will, you have to decide whether or not following your heart, pursuing and realizing Everything, will ultimately be the rising tide that lifts all proverbial boats (like your responsibility to your kid/s, for example).

Basically, reduced to its essence, it becomes a choice between hope and fear. How do you want to live your life? You can fear that your decisions will have negative ramifications for you and those you love, or fully believe, to the deepest part of your core, that hope, specifically the hope for penultimate Love, will lead you to exactly that, and touch every part of your life in amazing ways.

To me, it’s a no brainer. And it’s that positivity, that unwavering certainty that Everything is possible, that compels me to write about what I’ve been lucky enough to experience, hoping that doing so might in some way help others realize their Everything.

image source:  debretts.com

Discussing Past Relationships

While we all have the desire to be attractive to the opposite sex (those of us who are heterosexual, that is), and for members of the opposite sex to know that we are, in fact, attractive to their kind, be sensitive to how the words you’re using to describe your exes, what about them appealed to you, how you felt about them, etc. may be received by your partner.

As a guy, clearly it’s an ego stroke (self-applied) for a drop-dead-gorgeous woman you’re dating to register the fact that you were previously involved with another attractive woman (or women). On one level this can be a positive, even productive bit of knowledge, since to a certain extent it can be validating of her attraction to you. But don’t overdo it. Also—and it hopefully goes without saying—specific mentions of sex you had in the past could turn into a minefield you may find yourself trapped in for a while.

At a certain point in time in the development of a relationship characterized by True Love, any topic can be discussed openly, productively and in a way that further fortifies your connectedness, but even in cases of True Love, the establishment of a safe, loving, accepting, honest environment wherein both parties are at liberty to discuss anything typically doesn’t happen overnight.

image via savorhomeblog.com

image via savorhomeblog.com

Does this imply that you should plead the 5th if asked about past relationships? Absolutely not. Just be mindful of the possibility that, although it’s not entirely rational and is typically sub/unconscious, a woman you’re getting serious about may—understandably, as she is, after all, a complex emotional being—on some levels want to believe that she’s the only woman who’s ever mattered to you, whom you’ve loved, etc.

Additionally, the more praiseworthy you are of your exes, in whatever regard, the greater the chance that she will wonder about the sincerity of your praise for her in those areas…or your lack of praise in those areas. Or whether your attention might be diverted by someone else who’s strong in those areas.

Likewise, we guys can be susceptible to these perfectly natural feelings and insecurities. After all, we want to be special, to stand head and shoulders above those who came before us and be so perfect for our prospective soulmate that there’s no chance she’d ever be open to the temptations of another guy.

But I submit to you that wishing your beloved had never loved anyone before she loved you, or that she never had sex before you, or climaxed with another guy—or a boundless number of other actions/thoughts/feelings that are important to you—is entirely and utterly counterproductive.

While I’m not saying you should run out and have a tee shirt made emblazoned with “Ask me about the love of my life’s ‘pre-me’ orgies!” the reality is that it is precisely her individual experiences, and yours, that brought you together so powerfully. Had one thing been different for her, or for you, or even had they happened in a different order, it’s probable that you wouldn’t have connected the way you did.

Think about that for a moment.

So rather than harbor any negative feelings or insecurities about her past, you should (privately—no tee shirts!) be thankful for and genuinely celebrate it. And while the reverse also obviously applies, again, use good judgment and sensitivity when covering this type of potentially loaded ground, especially when your relationship is “early days.”