After reading through my site, many people are left with the question: If I can grow love and cultivate attraction, can I make a relationship work with any good and loving partner with whom I share values and vision? My short answer is: no. Let me explain.
There’s a mysterious element of relationship called connection. Connection is the magnetic pull that draws you toward certain cities, places in nature, work environments, and people. It’s why some people feel drawn to the desert and others are drawn to the ocean. “I feel connected to forests,” one person might say, while someone else shares, “I feel connected to the buzz and rush of city life.” We each respond to different types of art, style, design, and music. It’s why we have country music, hard rock and classical.
So just like you wouldn’t choose to be friends with anyone – even if you shared interests and background – you wouldn’t choose to develop a romantic relationship with anyone. There’s something that drew you to your partner, something inside of you that said “yes” even if other, fear-based elements were simultaneously saying “no”.
Now, connection can be a tricky thing, and can also be a high-spike word for people struggling with relationship anxiety. First off, connection can be difficult to determine if your heart has been closed for most of the relationship. Because we expect our partners to “make us” feel alive, when that aliveness (spark, chemistry) is missing, we immediately assume it’s because we’re with the wrong person and we don’t have the “right” connection. But how can you determine connection if your heart is closed?
A key question to ask yourself is: Do I feel alive and connected in other areas of my life? If you’re like many of the people who find me, you’re likely suffering from a dry inner well of Self – low self-love, self-knowledge, and self-trust – which leads to a lack of aliveness and connection to yourself and to your life. While you may have initially felt alive in the early stages of your relationship (some people are offered a free ride in the beginning where their hearts open and the infatuation overrides the status quo of numbness or anxiety), once the reality of every day living takes hold, you will default back to your baseline level of inner dryness. So the first step is to examine your connection to your own aliveness, which, in essence, is your connection to Self (self-love, self-knowledge, self-trust).
And even if you do feel connected in other areas of your life, if you’re suffering from anxiety the first place you’ll shut down is in your intimate relationship. So you could say, “Yes, I do feel alive at work and with my friends; it’s only with my partner that I shut down so therefore we must not have a core connection,” but that would be a thinking error. You can have a core connection and still shut down around your partner if you’re wired to equate an available, supportive partner with lack of attraction and you don’t know how to effectively work with your fear walls.
Deep down, underneath the self-doubt and ceaseless mind chatter, when you stop and turn inward and plumb into the place of truth inside, you will know if you and your partner share a connection. Other helpful questions to ask yourself are: Does he “get” me? Does she support me? When I’m not in an anxious spell, do I enjoy spending time in his/her company? When our hearts are open, is there a basic flow or ease between us? In a moment of calm, ask yourself, “Do we connect?” and if the answer is yes, you know that you’re in the right place and you’re choosing someone loving with whom you can work to grow your garden of love, intimacy and attraction.
Real connection is found in an open heart. It’s not about surface attraction and it’s not about what we normally think of as chemistry and spark. True connection occurs when two hearts speak to each other. It’s the deep river of beauty you sense in your partner that transcends any physical feature. It’s the place of soul, of poetry, of who you would see when you looked at your partner if your gift of sight was removed. On this planet of billions of people, to meet someone with whom you connect is nothing short of a miracle. Our fear-laden hearts try to trample on this miracle by convincing us to run with the messages of “not enough”: not attracted enough, not in love enough, not enough connection. But you know what’s true. Somewhere underneath the fear-based lies runs the steady river of truth, as steady as the real beauty of the partner who stands before you.