The following question is one I often receive from my clients who are struggling with the specific spoke of relationship anxiety that contains the longing to feel more love, connection, and attraction for their partner (and let’s remember that I use attraction or lack of attraction in the broadest sense of the word to talk about all of the ways in which you believe your partner is “not enough” that then cause you to retract, judge and withdraw. This “lack of attraction” can focus on any perceived lack: physical, intellectual, humor, social, or simply “we’re not connected enough.”). The question is:
“What if my truth is that I’m not attracted to my partner? I understand projection. I get that there are unworked parts of my inner movie that I project onto the screen of my partner. But what if this one is really my truth and I’m just not attracted to him or her?”
In order to answer this question, we need to understand that the psyche operates in parts or characters. The ego, with its fierce attachment to black-and-white thinking, believes that every thought you have represents the totality of your consciousness. It has a difficult time understanding that one part of you can perceive one way while another part of you can perceive something entirely differently. The ego is primarily motivated by a need to control, which then leads to the need to try to compartmentalize our inner experience into neat and tidy little boxes. So there’s often some confusion and resistance when I answer the above question with:
“Yes, there is a part of you that is really not attracted to your partner. But when you shift the focus of your attention five degrees and see through different eyes – eyes that are informed by your own groundedness, fullness and clarity – you likely find another part of you that is genuinely and truly attracted to your partner. This part of you is also your “truth”, and we can safely say that a truth informed by clarity and love is a more reliable truth than one powered by fear. The lens through which we view our partners determines everything. We can see them through a fear-lens, which is informed by the story of, ‘You’re not safe,’ or we can see them through a love-lens, which is informed by the deeper knowing that our partner is on our side, is our friend, and is someone against whom we don’t have to protect.”
The stories that arise from the fear-based character that is likely sitting in the driver’s seat of your psyche are designed not to torture you but to protect you. Ego believes that if it convinces you that the story of I’m REALLY not attracted to my partner is wholly true, then you have to leave the relationship, thereby circumventing the risk of love. As I recently wrote, our minds populate our daily existence with stories designed to fortify us against this risk. The “lack of attraction” intrusive thought is a story. The “he’s not intellectual or educated enough” is story. The “we’re not connected enough” and “I don’t feel that spark” are stories. The stories are trying to protect us from the risk of full-bodied, open-hearted loving.
The problem is that we cannot vaccinate ourselves from the risk of love! Love is the biggest risk we take as humans. As Erica Jong has written: “Love is everything it’s cracked up to be… It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, your risk is even greater.”
The question then becomes: How do we change the lens through which we see our partners? How do we allow the character who sees through the love-lens to step into the driver’s seat more often? How do we successfully achieve one of the eight pillars that lead to a life of joy, which is learning to have – and sometimes change – our perspective so that we can orient toward love and gratitude? As the Dalai Lama says in The Book of Joy:
We create most of our suffering, so we should be able to create more joy. The key is our perspective and our thoughts, feelings and actions that come as a result.
In other words, when we shift our perspective, everything changes. While most people are secretly hoping that a magic genie will appear to solve all of their problems by snapping her fingers and making you fall madly in love with your partner, when we get past this wish fantasy and recognize that change is within our grasp and that the capacity to feel more joy and, in this case, more love, connection and attraction for our partner is entirely possible once we learn the essential skills of loving, we feel empowered. The key isn’t as far away as we think.
Love is not something that magically happens to us; it’s a state of mind that we can cultivate. If you want to learn the Love Laws and Loving Actions that will teach you to shift your perspective and grow the part of you that truly desires to move toward your loving and available partner, practice the actions that will feed and fuel the YES part of you, and help you shift the focus of your attention in the direction that develops real attraction, please join me for my tenth round of Open Your Heart: A 30-day program to feel more love and attraction for your partner. It will begin on February 4, 2017, this is the last week to sign up, and I will run it only once more this year.