The notion that romantic love will fulfill and complete us is one of the greatest ingrained beliefs we carry in the 21st century.
Everywhere we look we are sent the message that finding “your one true love” will solve all of your problems and remove the emptiness you feel inside.
In movies and TV shows, we see protagonists who go to extreme lengths to fulfill the ideal of finding perfect romantic love. We see how happy and seemingly complete these characters are, and believe that if we could just find the same thing, we would be happy. Then we listen to music and read novels which revolve around romantic love. We empathize with the struggles of the loneliness, disillusionment, lovesickness or depression that accompanies romantic unfulfillment. Even our friends and colleagues share their feelings and stories about being single, being in the wrong relationship, and just wanting to find someone who will “tick all the boxes.”
And our conditioning doesn’t just stop there. In childhood, most of us were taught that we’d fall in love with someone, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after (remind you of a specific Disney movie?). Being divorced or single past the age of thirty, continues to signify that there’s something very “messed up” about a person and their life. Women who remain single are called “spinsters” and thought of as frigid, neurotic, cat ladies. Men who remain single are thought of as nerds, mommy-boys, or somehow lacking in manliness.
All of these fearful beliefs, feelings, and notions surrounding romantic love make it one of the most frantically searched after experiences in life. No one wants to be single. And that is understandable. It is completely normal and healthy to crave for love. It is completely normal and human to yearn for affection, intimacy, and someone to spend your life with. In fact, this is a fundamentally biological, psychological, emotional, and spiritual need.
The problems arise when you start believing that romantic love is the only thing that will fulfill you – as if another person will solve all of your problems. Unfortunately and fortunately for you, this is not the case.
Why Romanticizing Life Creates Suffering
It’s fun and exhilarating to romanticize life. When we think romantically about the world, everything seems so much more soft and rosy. We romanticize the past and future, as well as things such as cars, depression, houses, locations, diamond rings, children, and of course, relationships.
But although romanticizing life gives everything a certain magical edge, it also puts us out of touch with reality. In other words, when we romanticize life, we filter everything through our beliefs and ideals, rather than seeing reality for what truly is.
The more we idealize life and filter the world through “rose-tinted glasses,” the more opportunities we create for deep suffering. When someone or something doesn’t match our ideal, we go into denial or become confused, angry, rageful, bitter, hateful, cynical, grief-stricken or depressed.
Why do you think we suffer so much in relationships? We innocently carry so many romantic and idealistic ideas around that filter our perception of reality. When our partner or potential lover-to-be suddenly isn’t all they cracked up to be, our idealistic mirrors begin to shatter. And it can be intensely disturbing to have our rose-tinted glasses removed. Suddenly, we are left in the dark. Our vision struggles to adjust to the new reality. We feel like a protective blanket has been removed. We feel naked, broken, and vulnerable. So most of us adopt another protective blanket: that of anger, cynicism, and closedness to life.
Why Romantic Love Doesn’t Complete You
Don’t be surprised if you have a very strong emotional reaction to the statement I’ve just made, that “romantic love doesn’t complete you.” This single statement challenges years and years of conditioning. In fact, this statement undermines the central goal that many of us carry since our childhood or teenage years.
The difference between an emotional ideal and reality is that reality can be experienced. So you don’t have to believe me when I say that romantic love doesn’t complete you – you can experience it for yourself.
For those of you who have been in relationships before … how long was it before the ecstasy faded and the problems began to set in? For those of you who have extremely loving and deep relationships with your spouses/partners … do you still struggle with feelings of unhappiness, inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety, restlessness or emptiness? Be honest.
As many of you may or may not know, I have been in a relationship with co-writer Mateo Sol for a number of years. While this relationship is healthy, mature, and profoundly nurturing, I discovered something amazing: it does not complete me. I say this with great love and respect for my partner, who also feels the same way. Romantic love does not complete me. Thank god!
Although it can be difficult to initially accept that romantic love does not complete us, this discovery is immensely liberating.
All of a sudden, your wholeness does not depend on finding another person. Your happiness and sense of completion doesn’t rely on the presence of a “perfect other.” Stop and think how insanely stressful the thought that “someone out there” holds the key to your completion is. Isn’t it a terribly depressing thought? This single belief creates so much anxiety, stress, and despair within us. Isn’t it sad that so many of us believe happiness can be found by chasing an ideal?
Once you come to see through this terribly misleading belief, you are left with two options: finding wholeness within yourself or continuing to chase it outside of yourself.
You Are Already Whole
It can take years, sometimes decades or even lifetimes to discover one of the most simple truths of all: you are already whole.
Most of us have heard quotes and speeches from mystics, spiritual teachers, and enlightened folk talk about this. Yet most of us don’t truly take it to heart. True happiness and wholeness originates from within you.
Anything outside of you that is a source of happiness will eventually perish or be taken away.
All false ideals, beliefs, and thought patterns will eventually be revealed and destroyed.
When everything outside of you is taken away, what remains? When your health, good looks, riches, family, friends, and yes, even romantic partners are taken away, what remains?
Most of us are too scared to answer this question. We are terrified to face our inner emptiness and loneliness face-on. We feel unable to face our soul loss: the profound loss of contact we have with our souls.
But the moment we are ready to face this inner emptiness is the moment we can dive into it through shadow work. The more inwards we travel, the more we discover something amazing: the presence of our Soul begins to emerge. The more blockages in the form of unresolved pain and conditioned beliefs we remove, the clearer our Souls become.
As we begin to connect with our essence, our wholeness, our very Souls, we start letting go of all the beliefs that obscured our inner Light. We refer to this as inner work or doing the work of the Soul.
The notion that you are already Whole may seem hilarious, even an insult considering all the pain you might be struggling with. But the only way for you to find out whether this statement is real or not is to go exploring for yourself: to face your inner emptiness once and for all. Only then can you discover that everything you’ve been suffering is a result of the thoughts, ideas, and beliefs you’ve innocently subscribed to.
Romantic Love is a Divine Catalyst
The deepest desire of our heart is to give love and to feel love.
In saying that, I want you to know that there’s nothing wrong with pursuing love, your soul mate or twin flame. There is absolutely nothing wrong with craving for and seeking out someone to love. This is a normal feeling.
But don’t base your happiness around it.
When you start believing that someone “out there” will complete you and give you everything you’ve ever been searching for … you immediately unlock the door of suffering. You immediately unleash the hellhounds of grief, anger, loneliness, and fear. Please avoid that suffering if you can.
While our partners, lovers, and soul mates do not complete us, they do act as divine catalysts.
What do I mean by divine catalysts? I mean that our romantic partners help us to grow in ways we never dreamed of. In the case of a soul mate relationship, such a connection helps to deepen our spiritual growth significantly. And while this relationship does not complete us, it does help us access the fulfillment that is already buried away deep inside of us.
I will say that again: romantic relationships often help us to access the wholeness that is already within us, but they do not, in and of themselves, complete us. How can anything outside of you that can be taken away complete you?
Think about that for a while.
Your Heart Wants to Give and Feel Love
The deepest need of every human being is to give and feel love. Romantic love is one of the closest experiences to our true nature, which is why we obsess about it so much.
Shadow & Light Membership:
"Straight from the very first weekly email this has been mind-blowingly powerful, the synchronicity and the on-vibe contents resonate uncannily with my soul’s current challenges, it’s like Aletheia & Mateo have got a little camera running inside my head. They always respond to comments and offer warm words of understanding and support. This is an amazing online community run by amazing people." – Mary
When we fall in love, our hearts are open and a sense of freedom fills us. This experience is very similar to what we call liberation, self-realization, moksha, Oneness or spiritual enlightenment. But the key thing to remember here is that romantic love is not the same as unconditional love.
What we are searching for, when all has been said and done, is unconditional love. And relying on another person to give you that will always bring you great grief and suffering. So if you would like to avoid this suffering and experience the everlasting love within your Soul, you can practice these bits of advice:
- Realize that your heart wants to give and feel love.
- Understand and discover for yourself that romantic love cannot complete you.
- See that romantic love helps you to deepen your spiritual growth, but it will not give you everything you’ve ever dreamed of.
- When you are ready, face your inner emptiness. What are you running away from?
- Learn to stop chasing after happiness in the form of other people or ideals.
- Explore inner work as a map that can help you with your inner journey.
I hope these suggestions help.
Remember, even when you do find the love of your life, emptiness, and darkness will eventually return. This feeling of incompletion might arise after one, two, five or ten years, but it will always return.
By choosing to take off the rose-tinted glasses and face reality, you will be taking a courageous step towards the truth that NO ONE needs to, or ever can, complete you. Your Soul is already Whole.