The Pain of Romantic Love is Good for You (up to a point)

Romantic love, as we were saying, as invented by the Troubadours, is a spiritual longing for what cannot be had here on the earth plane. The object of romantic love is not really a human being, it’s an idealized image, perhaps a fragmented memory belonging to a person we once knew. Romantic love actually prefers to be unrequited, causing a desire for someone you can’t have so bad you want to tear your heart out. You elevate the other onto a pedestal above you, and thus you are of lesser value. To really make it passionate, it helps to have been rejected. If you imagine it was because you are not good enough or deficient in some way, well, that leads to some really delicious self-flagellation.

Could there be a spiritual purpose for this? How could it be good for us? I think it’s explained by this Kahlil Gibran quote, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”  This has helped me understand why I’ve had pain; why my patients have pain, and why the human race suffers so much: because when we have pain it breaks our hearts and then we have an opportunity to understand. We can begin to develop compassion for our own suffering and the suffering of others. Then Love starts becoming available, not as a fantasy “my lover looks like Brad Pitt” or some dream girl, but due to the fact that I’m becoming a loving person to my neighbours, friends, family, and loved ones. I can start looking for someone who will love me back instead of reject me and find me unworthy, leaving me feeling like pond scum.

A tantra teacher I met the other day said to me, “The heart that breaks is not the True Heart.”  Wow! True Heart isn’t the egoic heart.  Our little limited hearts break because we were looking for the wrong thing. We were looking for the fantasy Brad Pitt who is wealthy and fit and always does the right romantic things and drives such-and-such car and is my armpiece, impressing my friends. My ego can get all puffed up that I’m this great lover, when actually I’m not very loving at all because what I’m looking for is something to enhance my ego. That’s what gets broken so we can actually become lovers.

The egoic mindset is: in order for me to be loving, the other person has to be what my ego wants them to be.  I will only be loving if the other persons is cool enough for me. I will only be loving if the other person is conventionally beautiful, or isn’t of a different body size, or isn’t an Arab or Muslim or Syrian or Jew — that’s the only way I’ll be loving. That’s what’s going on on the planet: You have to be a certain way for me to love you.

 

© 2017 Catherine Auman  This article is an excerpt from Catherine’s book Tantric Dating: Bringing Love and Awareness to the Dating Process

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Catherine Auman is a Los Angeles psychotherapist specializing in transpersonal psychology, also known as spiritual psychology.

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