Romantic relationships as a source of spiritual growth and healing

It’s through being in relationship to others that we have the opportunity to test the depth of our spiritual understanding. Through the challenges that come up in relationships, we get to see whether we’re able to live what we know, or whether our spirituality remains primarily intellectual.

Relationships of all kinds - with family members, romantic partners, friends, colleagues, or even strangers - can show us how much we’ve truly integrated what we’ve learned on our spiritual paths.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, having recently taken the first steps in a new romantic relationship. It’s a relationship that came unexpectedly and out of nowhere and I’m full of gratitude for its arrival.

When it comes to spirituality and our healing path, there’s value in both being single and being in relationship. Sometimes our greatest opportunity for healing comes from being alone and learning to be with ourselves. And sometimes the next phase of our growth requires us to dive into relationship with another human being.

For me, it’s time for the latter. Being alone is easy for me. It’s comfortable. I know the source of happiness is within me. My greatest learning opportunity is in being in relationship. Today I want to share some of the challenges that have been showing up for me and how my spiritual path has been my biggest source of support as I navigate this experience.

Everything is showing up for your healing and growth

Most new relationships begin with a period of seeming perfection and bliss but it’s usually not long before the challenges start to show up.

In previous relationships, I know I would have interpreted every challenge as a sign that the relationship wasn’t meant to be and that we weren’t right for one another. My spiritual path has taught me that one of the purposes of relationships is to help bring up anything that needs to be healed.

Holding this perspective of relationship helps us welcome challenges as they arise, seeing them not as a problem or a sign that something’s wrong, but as an opportunity for deeper healing and growth, enabling us to ultimately experience greater freedom, peace and happiness.

In this way, when a challenge arises, there’s less reactivity and defensiveness (or reactivity and defensiveness move through more quickly) and a greater willingness to face whatever’s coming up through a lens of learning and growth.

This isn’t to say, of course, that we’re meant to stay in any particular relationship because it’s a learning opportunity. Sometimes the learning opportunity is walking away. In every instance, we need to be connected to our own hearts and truth to know what the right action is for us.

You can’t ever lose what really matters

In almost every relationship I’ve been in, I’ve been the one to bring things to an end. Historically, I’ve felt stifled by relationships and wanted to regain my space. I’ve often felt overwhelmed, irritated and annoyed by the presence of my partners.

This relationship is a first for me in that I have no sense of needing to regain space. Whilst we’ve already spent a lot of time together, it also feels very spacious. I’ve been shocked that after spending a day together, I’m not itching for him to leave me alone.

This, of course, is wonderful. At the same time, because it’s so wonderful, I’ve witnessed insecurity and fear coming up around losing what I now feel I’ve gained.

When we fear losing what we have, we suffer. It also leads to clinging and neediness, both of which drive away the very thing we want to keep.

Witnessing what’s coming up is the first useful step. This opens up a space in which we can feel any fear and insecurity and at the same time not act from that place of fear and insecurity. Instead, we can hold our experience with compassion.

Second, I’ve been leaning on my deeper understanding that anything we can lose, isn’t essential to us. Put another way, what really matters can never be lost. Our true essence, the consciousness that we are, can’t be added to or taken away from. It is already complete in every way.

With this understanding, we can know and trust that even if a romantic relationship comes to an end, the deeper truth of who we are has not lost anything.

But please, don’t use this as a way to gloss over heartbreak. One of the traps of the spiritual path is to tell ourselves that because we’re ‘pure consciousness’ we shouldn’t feel sad or we should be able to ‘get over things’ more quickly. True spirituality is a welcoming of the full spectrum of our tender emotions, whilst also knowing that the truth of who we are is the space in which all those things appear.

There’s no substitute for silence

As challenges arise, it’s easy to get caught up in the storm of it all and blow everything out of proportion. Sitting in silence continues to be a practice that saves me again and again.

There in the silence, I rediscover my essential self, the one who is always ok amidst anything that might be happening. Silence creates space around dense thinking and helps us remember that the content of our thoughts isn’t real. It reminds us that we are the sky and our thoughts are the clouds.

It also gives us the opportunity to allow feelings to rise to the surface where we can meet them with love and compassion, allowing them to move through, leaving us feeling freer, lighter and ready for the next step.

Today I bow in gratitude for relationship and the opportunity for spiritual growth and healing it brings.

Love and courage,