Love, Identity, and Romance
Your love story should be an ever evolving narrative...with it comes bliss and suffering
Hello everyone, I hope you all having a wonderful week! Here is a journey into the mind that hopes to provide you something to contemplate.
As always, thank you for your support on this mind exploration journey I’ve taken, I truly appreciate the support and your kind words.
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This week’s theme is about romance, love, and the creation of the self through relationships. This is an edited version of a recent podcast episode that will be releasing soon!
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Let’s start with an undeniable truth(mostly): Humans are social animals.
We live, breathe, and desire social interaction. Even when we convince ourselves otherwise, it’s often some underlying issue that creates that belief.
A belief that pulls us away from a default mode of desire, whether it’s past experiences or trauma that have created this sense of social anxiety that has us avoiding those connections. An anxiety that leads us towards wanting to distance ourselves from people to avoid that undesirable inner feeling. And it’s that inner perception of our desire to distance ourselves from others that comes from a place where we are lacking peace within ourselves.
This doesn’t change the original inner state: we desire human interaction and a desire for human connection.
The default desire is connection.
Okay, but let’s consider a problem...
Relationships and concepts of love are (mostly) broken in Western culture.
We see high divorce rates.
We see endless stories of toxic parents that are often toxic to their kids because of the dumpster fire relationship they have with their spouse.
We see a lack of communication as a common problem in broken relationships.
Okay, but in our understandings of love, romance, and relationships—what is/are the foundational issue(s)?
My initial pull was to claim a level of naïve understanding of what it is to be a human. However, that felt grandiose on my part as though I was proclaiming to be ‘oh so wise’ in my perception of romance. False, I’m learning as everyone else.
But the idea of being naïve has a part in this...its synonyms being innocent and ignorant; and when we discuss the feeling of love/lust many of us will often describe it as this intense and all-consuming feeling. This is where the idea of “falling” in love comes in, as it’s a deep feeling that forces your mind to be constantly preoccupied with the origin of the falling.
So we have...
“Blinded by love.”
“Falling in love.”
Both of these are describing an intense emotional reaction that leaves us open to various impulses if we cannot process and understand that feeling.
Thus, if we cannot process and understand that feeling, we leave ourselves acting in a naïve manner.
Although, this is only part of the puzzle that creates these problems in relationships!
The second problem: We become overly attached to the narrative we build for another, which stems from us being overly attached to our sense of self.
Let’s unpack this second problem...
I’ll start with a quote that I loved from an article that helped my mind form some thoughts on this:
“The best thing for your nervous system is another person,” and it continues, “unfortunately, the worst thing for your nervous system is also another person.”
What does this mean?
For one, we ourselves are constantly molding, forming, evolving, and changing our sense of self. From this, we are also constantly forming our own perceptions of other selves. So consider your best friend, we will call them Chris or Sophia(I enjoy using names...feels more personal), the moment you met them you began creating an image for yourself of ‘who is Chris’ and ‘who is Sophia,’ and when done well we allow ourselves to constantly be adapting that image based on new information about that friend.
We should be utilizing that same system for ourselves, as constantly adapting our sense of self is where we evolve and gather new insights which helps us in finding peace with this existence.
Okay, but let’s backtrack for a moment...
We create a self for others and a sense of self for ourselves. Agreed? I hope so.
The insights we have about ourselves aren’t purely coming from our inner world, as the outer world influences our inner world, so who we are becomes who we are surrounded by. As we then know ourselves as the reflections of other people, and that reflection is based on the self they’ve created for you—it’s a constant feedback loop.
The “I” we shape ourselves into is a continually unfolding process based on the interactions we have with other people. Even self-reflection, or inner thoughts, uses memory from interactions with others. And those interactions are being influenced by the way people perceive you.
Are you seeing how other humans can simultaneously be the best and worst thing for you?
So we are using others—our relationships—as mirrors to create our own identity. It’s the beautiful double-edged sword of this existence.
Identity with Romance
Now, that previous section shows the influence of others over our sense of self, our identity.
But let’s focus this on love and romance, as those we find ourselves deeply and intimately involved with often have the most profound effect on shaping the identity we have for ourselves.
I want you to think back to your past breakups, whether it’s a friendship or romantic interest. What happened in those situations? What insight did it provide you about life and yourself? Consider that.
Our romantic connections are intensely focussed affection. Through relationships, moments with others, and deep interactions with other people, we gain insight into parts of us we didn’t know were there.
The reality is introspection with you yourself—alone—within your own mind, and partaking in that pursuit with your own thoughts can only go so far. We often see the default of introspection as this individual, solo journey, where we take a walk in the woods to reflect on who we are and what we want.
Your thoughts are NEVER alone.
But that only toys with the idea of introspection. We find a necessary aspect of understanding who you are and what it is to be human within the human interactions we have with others. There’s a deeper reflection that you find within yourself that can only come about when we’re being with others.
We only truly become aware of our existence when we are acknowledged by others. In this acknowledgment, the narrative we build around the self becomes: self-conscious. From this, we become aware that we exist, gain insight into who we are, and earn knowledge of how we relate to the world.
The external world—especially our connection with others—validates our existence.
If you want to understand yourself, you cannot allow yourself to be indifferent to other people. To come into a state of knowing thyself you must communicate your sense of knowing with others.
So when romantic partners enter the mix of this process...we come into a deeper sense of knowing. Or at the very least, we come into an increased desire for an identity. As we begin perceiving that we are truly seeing someone and they’re seeing us. This elevates our desire to hold onto the sense of self. We begin seeing ourselves through them, which can often create an over attachment with the illusionary self.
This is how co-dependency comes into being as the narrative we build for ourselves lives only when that connection is with us, when that begins slipping away, we lose a major tether to our perception of reality.
The issue that comes about is we often attach ourselves to that narrative, as though we found some established truth to put our stake into the world, proclaiming this is “I”. When we attach ourselves to the idea of “I am x” we create this binary way of thinking that has us quickly dismissing information that could dissolve who we are.
When we begin sensing we are “losing” our romantic partner, we notice the fighting increases, your sex life drops off, and you sense you don’t really know that person anymore. Both sides of the relationship operate from a place of increased suffering—and when communication is lacking—we often hold on to those fleeting memories of the “good times.”
But it’s that focus on the memories of the past, instead of altering the narrative of the present, that leaves people in a constant cycle of confusion. When we hold on to those memories of the past, we hold on to the identity or sense of self from the past, which is likely an indicator that we haven’t updated the narrative of our relationship. Where the person you’re with has likely altered there’s! Change within the relationship is okay and necessary. And we should want this! It’s when we allow ourselves to explore our sense of self, our narrative, and our desires with another person that we gain these insights about our unfolding self.
So stop looking at romance and love as a narrative that must be protected; it’s not a checklist that must be maintained, if you believe so, you’ll enter the death spiral of an identity crisis. You must flow with the changing circumstances, whether it’s allowing that romantic relationship to end or allowing it to adapt into something new. Be willing and communicate your changing desires, because those telling you to bottle them are trying to pull you into their own suffering.
Well, I only really scratched the surface of what I wanted to cover…more soon:)
Until next time,
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