The “Real” Solution To All Your Dating And Relationship Problems
Many spiritual traditions teach that there comes a point where you just “give up,” not in the sense of lacking any feeling or being cynical, but simply surrendering to whatever reality might be out there (God, “the universe,” your true self, and so forth) because you have no choice left but to do so. When you reach this point of surrender where you truly have let go of what you had a toxic attachment to, that is when you finally achieve the thing you were seeking to get in the first place.
The Buddhist philosopher Alan Watts describes it like this:
What happens is that we’ve practiced so often, that we find out we can’t do it… and it happens at the moment you know you can’t do it. When you reach a certain point of despair, when you know that you are the one weird child who will never be able to swim, at that moment you’re swimming.
Because, the desperation and the total inability to do it at all has brought you to a point which we might call: ‘Don’t care’, you stop trying, you stop not trying, trying to get it that way, you just have arrived at the insight that your decision, your will, doesn’t have any part in the thing at all and that’s what you needed to know…
Many people find that with dating and relationships, searching for “the one” or even any outcome, whether it be sex, friendships, or even fixing a relationship, comes only when you reach a point where you both stop trying and stop not trying, as Watts mentions. While this is a very “zen” thing to say, when you get there, you know it. Others call it “flow.”
This point often comes as the result of a total and utter ego beat-down you never expected. Perhaps, it may result from a realization that you have radically and spectacularly failed to achieve your goals and you now have “nothing to lose.” Maybe you were laid up with a debilitating illness or injury which showed you that you lack the control you clung to (often getting near death can cause the same impact).
In dating and relationships we often seek the most control. It could be clinging to exact numbers, like age, height, and weight when searching for compatibility, rather than making a genuine connection. It is often expressed as concern with how a partner looks to the world rather than how someone makes you feel. Relationships becoming routine, stale, and boring based on maintaining this control.
The problem is that this control doesn’t exist. And this comes out in challenging moments. Seeking control in this way is like catching water with a net: a pointless endeavor that may seem like something is happening, but really it is not.
Why do I say this? You don’t have to be Buddha to realize that nothing is permanent. Everything will end. No amount of ego control will prevent the pain that will come from a break-up, the death of a loved one, or even a rejection. Everything ends, even if that is death of you or your spouse at 100 years old.
So maintaining this control will ultimately provide no comfort, but it will stop you from taking the risks and living in the moments that provide the most joy. It will stop you from connecting (or re-connecting) with your significant other. It will strategically forestall the “downs” but you will have no “ups.”
To quote Watts once again:
“But you can’t see ‘it’ when you are trying to get ‘it.’ And you can still less see ‘it’ when you’re trying to get ‘it’ fast. So there is no alternative, but to get to the point that you can’t get ‘it’ at all.
You are going to be you, the same slob you’ve always been. You can’t change it and all your good resolutions are just bombast. Then, you start to be real.”
Of course, the irony is that this is no “solution” at all, but was already there within you and around you to begin with. As the Chinese poem goes:
It is so clear that it takes a long time to see,
You must know that the fire which you are seeking,
Is the fire in your own lantern.
And that your rice has been cooked from the very beginning.
So when are you going to get real? Why not today?