To See Beyond Attraction

There comes a time in a relationship when, if you’ve done your inner work, you see beyond all externals into the essence of a human being. Clients who are struggling with the attraction spike often ask me, “I’m constantly checking to see if I’m attracted to my partner, and when I’m not I get a pit in my stomach. Will the day ever come when I look at him/her and just find her attractive?” Not only will you find your partner attractive, but you’ll stop checking. At some point, when you’ve worked enough with fear walls and rejection/projection layers, your partner is just your partner, and when you look at him or her you’ll look through eyes that see at the level of being.

This reminds me of something a woman named Jill, who I interviewed for my book and again for my e-course, said when I asked how she saw her relationship with her husband:

“I see my relationship with Kevin right in there with my breathing. It’s not necessarily as essential to life but it’s as much a part of who I am. My relationship with Kevin is an expression of me. That third party, the marriage thing, is gone, there isn’t something else. Loving him is an expression of who I am.”

I conducted that interview over twenty years ago, and now, decades into my own marriage, I know exactly what she means. There’s an is-ness that happens in a healthy relationship over time. There’s a way in which you stop seeing the other person as separate in the best possible way, meaning you each have your own selves but relationship becomes or enfolds the two of you. And when this happens you stop looking at your partner through the lens of not-enough. It’s like you stop seeing them and start seeing them all in the same breath.

I know this may seem impossible for those of you stuck in an attraction or any “not enough” spike (not intelligent, social, funny, witty enough). We’re so profoundly brainwashed in our culture to focus on superficial physical attraction as the most important quality in a partner that it can seem daunting to turn this mindset on its head. Men, especially, often say things to me like, “Men are more visual. If I’m not physically attracted to my partner doesn’t that mean our relationship is doomed?” To which I respond, “Women are visual as well and if you weren’t attracted to your partner at the level of essence you wouldn’t be on my site trying to work through these projections.” I’ve seen countless men and women walk through this daunting gauntlet and emerge on the other side feeling real attraction and real love for their partner. But when they’re in the thick of it, it feels like the only thing they can do is run. The woman writing this letter says it well (and Polly’s response is brilliant):

He is sensitive, kind, attentive, and doting. He is so very patient and loving with my child. Because of these traits, I find myself feeling less attracted to him physically. He seems meek. It is truly something sick. I have a hard time looking at him on occasion, because every little quiver, every timid step, every noise he makes while eating makes my skin crawl.”

Breaking through these projections is not easy work by any means. In fact, as I’ve said repeatedly, to engage truly and deeply with this path requires nothing less than a warrior’s mindset. How can it be easy to rewire a lifetime of conditioning that tells you what the perfect man or woman must look like or be like? How can it be easy to dig deep into your own history and realize that embedded inside these not-enough spikes is the pain around your own feelings of inadequacy that often arose in your adolescent years – the stories that told you that you weren’t attractive enough, smart enough, cool enough? To see another’s essence requires, on one level, that we clear away the cobwebs of our own stories until we catch at least a glimpse of our own light.

The key is to clear the doors of perception, the windows of your eyes that can become so clouded by the false values of the culture and your own fear-walls that were erected to protect your heart that you stop seeing clearly. “Fear eyes or clear eyes” remains a highly resonant phrase for much of my audience as it speaks to the distortions that occur when fear and doubt take over. What I’ve learned and continue to learn through my work and my marriage is that one of the fastest and most effective ways to shrink fear is to grow love. We can and must weed out the unwanted plants of fear – which often manifest as intrusive thoughts – but we can also work on the other side, meaning developing positive practices that grow love so that fear doesn’t have room to grow. If you fill your garden with flowers, you shade out the weeds. The same is true for the workings of our minds and hearts.

The Love Laws that I teach in my Open Your Heart course are the soil. The Loving Actions are the flowers. The community of like-minded learners are the water. And my guidance through these principles and actions is the North Star that leads the way. If you’re with a good partner, someone with whom you share values and vision, someone who is willing to grow alongside you (and by that I mean there’s a basic willingness to learn and grow, not that they have to be reading self-help books or going to therapy!), but you struggle with lack of attraction or any perceived lack that manifests as “not enough”, please join me for my next round of Open Your Heart: A 30-day course to feel more love and attraction for your partner. The course starts next Saturday, August 18th, 2018, and I look forward to seeing you there.

A Taste of My Own Medicine

Our older son will turn fourteen this week, and as part of the Jewish tradition he will be walking through the rite of passage of a Bar Mitzvah. Given that my husband was raised Catholic and now connects most deeply to Source through art and nature and the fact that we’re not raising our boys in a traditional religious setting, this will be a very creative interpretation of a traditional Bar Mitzvah. One of my dearest friends from childhood who is studying to become a rabbi will be officiating, we’ll be celebrating in a tent in our backyard, and my son will be offering a highly unusual drash (interpretation of his Torah portion), which has to do with his passion for airplanes. Like all aspects of our life, we’re doing it our own way.

Nevertheless, forty-five people will be joining us, many coming from around the country, and we need … Click here to continue reading...

When Infatuation Leads To Dead Butterflies

Love is a verb. This is one of the great truths about love that our culture fails to teach, one that, even when we understand the principle, we need to remember it and practice it over and over again. I think of marriage or any long-term, committed relationship with a willing, open partner as an opportunity to practice loving – the active form of the verb – day after day and year after year until it becomes second nature. The culture teaches us that we’re supposed to know how to love from the day one. What that really means is that we think we’re supposed to feel in love early on. This isn’t possible. Like any skill, it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at loving. From the practice the feelings arise – a nice frosting on the cake of love – but we don’t practice loving so thatClick here to continue reading...

The Scars of First Heartbreak

There’s nothing like the first. The first family. The first friend. The first kiss. The first job. The first baby. The first heartbreak.

The first time or experience or relationship lays the groove of a blueprint for how we navigate later, similar experiences. Our first experience of a family that occurs in our family of origin creates a groove in psyche called “family”, much like the groove in a vinyl album. When the needle of a later experience sets down on the groove of “family”, you will automatically think about your family of origin, and the overarching feeling of what it was like to be in your family will color your expectations of current or future family. Likewise, our first experience of marriage is often our parents’ marriage; what we learned, saw, and absorbed there affects our expectations, hopes, and fears around our own marriage possibly more than any other … Click here to continue reading...

What is the Work of Breaking Free from Relationship Anxiety?

A coaching client recently said to me, “You talk a lot about doing “the work”, and I wondered for so long what “the work” was. I thought that if I understood anxiety intellectually I would feel better. And the first time I went through the course I did feel better for a while, which I know is very common for new course members. But then I felt anxious again, and I realized that I wasn’t doing the work.”

“How do you understand the work now?”

“For me it means going underneath the story. It means taking the information out of the realm of intellectual understanding and putting it into practice. It means dialoguing with these different parts of myself, which is about engaging with them instead of being fused with them. It’s so different to dialogue with the part of me that’s scared of intimacy as opposed to just thinking … Click here to continue reading...