“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free” – Thich Nhat Hanh
To love someone is to love them without possessing them, without owning them. In the past I thought that jealousy and possessiveness were a sign of love, but then I realised that they are only a sign of an inflated ego. The ego that wants to own things and people.
I have been in relationships where I have felt restricted, to a lesser or higher degree. I knew that my partner disapproved of some of my ways or disagreed if I did certain things. This felt suffocating.
For example if I wore a short dress, I would hear comments such as ‘who are you trying to seduce’ or ‘I can’t believe you’re wearing that.’
I once had a relationship, where my then boyfriend explicitly told me that I wasn’t allowed to have any friends who are male, or that I had to tell him where I am going every time I leave the house.
One of my partners would have disapproved if I had a blog for example, if I wrote, if I shared things. Because he was a very private person, who didn’t reveal much to anyone. Whereas I’m the complete opposite, I am an extremely open person, I find it hard not to over share. It’s difficult for me to tell if I’ve shared too much or not, because sharing for me is a way to connect with others.
I used to think that this kind of restrictive behaviour was normal in relationships, that it was typical male behaviour. In some kind of masochistic way I guess I also enjoyed it. The feeling where you feel subjugated to the man, a type of fantasy of the submissive female.
But luckily, I have tasted what it’s like to have a relationship where I felt free. It’s definitely based on trust and a common vision of what you both want. You have to want the same things and have the same ideas of what is acceptable and what isn’t, and if you’re views differ then you have to express them, respect them and set common boundaries.
Some people might confuse the idea of freedom in love with cheating for example, but that’s not the case. Cheating is betraying someone’s trust, if you’ve agreed to be faithful to each other.
If on the other hand you both agree on an open relationship or some other type of arrangement and you are both happy with it, then that’s also fine.
I’ve realised that in the past I might have encouraged jealous and possessive behaviour, because my partners didn’t trust me and that’s why they tried to control me. I can’t blame them completely, because I wasn’t being honest with them, about what I felt and what my expectations were. I wasn’t brave enough to confront the situation in an honest way.
I’ve definitely learnt my lesson. And that is that trust and honest communication about how you’re feeling is of the utmost priority in a loving relationship in which you both also feel free.
I have learnt that jealousy, possessiveness and restrictions do not have any place in a healthy relationship, they are the enemies and destroyers of love. True love of any kind will set you free. True love of your friends, your family, your religion, God, your partner will set you free and will never make you feel trapped or constrained. If on the other hand you feel restricted in any way, uncomfortable, then it’s not true love.
In a healthy relationship you will encourage each other to be the best you can be, you will communicate well, support each other in good times and bad and, motivate each other to excel in whatever you have chosen to do.
I haven’t found the perfect relationship yet, and as perfect people don’t exist, nor can perfect relationships, but there are people who are more or less compatible with you, they are people who you connect with at a selfless and higher level of the soul, rather than just through your minds.
At the end of the day, whether we admit it or not, we all seek our soul mates, because the most important part of us is our soul, which is above the ego, above our minds. Our soul yearns to be mirrored by another soul, and ultimately to dissolve into the universal soul and energy from which we have all come from.
I read in Clemens Kuby’s book a wonderful take on finding your soul mate. He wrote that we might have found our soul mate in a past life, but have now lost them in this life. The soul knows that their soul mate exists and so keeps hoping to find it, in a bar or at a party. That’s why we have the concept of the ‘One’ and that’s why people feel love at first sight. People who fall in love like this often report, feeling like they’ve known this person for so long, despite having just met them.
Also our reproductive and sexual instinct is so potent, that we often aren’t patient enough to wait for our soul mate and so we often end up with someone we instinctively feel to be wrong for us, because we start to doubt that such a thing as a soul mate exists. Eventually we feel that a soul mate is just the stuff of fairy tales and so we settle for Mr or Mrs ‘good enough’.
Or else, when we do finally meet our soul mate, we don’t have the courage to leave our existing family or spouse for them. So we lose them in this life, and subconsciously we hope to be reunited with them again in another place.
Of course our soul mate doesn’t have to be a romantic partner, it can be anyone, but we hope that it will be our romantic partner, because that is the most intimate of relationships.
Can we be free without love? No. We cannot live without love, we were born to love. We were born from the love of our parents, we love our family, our friends, our partners, ourselves, we love nature and we love God. We don’t need the love of a romantic partner to be free, but we do need love within us to be free.
The ultimate freedom and the true fulfilment of our potential and soaring of our soul is enhanced by connecting strongly with another soul of a significant other or with other souls that inspire us and light our path. These connections enhance our connection and love of the ultimate soul of the universe.
I haven’t found my soul mate yet, but I believe I will one day very soon. When I do, I hope I will have the courage to pursue this relationship regardless of the circumstances.
I pray that I will never stop believing in the existence of my soul mate and that I won’t stop searching until I find them.
Photo by Kayla Kandzorra