Interest Wanes, Intention Expands
When to Stay, When to Leave
This business of interest and intention is the basis for both the establishment of a relationship and a means of determining when it is no longer serving the needs of the parties involved. There is, no doubt, a great deal of emotional pain and heartache, anxiety and concern over the loss of a relationship, particularly of the romantic kind, and were I able to give an easy checklist to determine the how and when of a relationship ending I’d be certain to appear on Oprah and peddle my wares with exceeding gusto. Alas, I have no such model. Instead what I offer is a rumination on healthy relationships based on that principle of communication I began with. By focusing on what is healthy, what is good and right, we become less concerned with the negative and anxiety-inducing possibilities. Judge the strength of a connection not on its potential for failure, but on its ability to provide a self-transformative space for growth and honest expression.
Erich Fromm in The Art of Being, notes: “The basis for any approach to self-transformation is an ever-increasing awareness of reality and the shedding of illusions.” The action of increasing one’s awareness of reality is promoted through greater understanding of one’s being-ness, requiring open and honest communication to lead to the dismissal of illusions. These illusions are often at the heart of what makes us anxious concerning the loss of relationships and the fear/concern over someone straying. The term “straying” evokes such strong images of a path being left, of a road being departed from, the result as is found in any number of stories one of destruction and pain. This departure, however, in those very same tales, is often an experience of personal development.
Straying, perhaps, can be focused instead on departing from one’s illusions. The central one of most concern here is any single person being able to complete another, of providing the necessary pieces to fit into every lack that the other person has, for the two to become one in anything more than a poetic sense. This illusion is particularly problematic as it is based on the notion of someone having a lack, of beginning a search due to the recognition of an already existent loss. Like focusing on what is potentially wrong with a relationship, the eye only sees what is negative and provide ample examples of concern for suffering. If we begin with one’s wholeness, with a person’s current secure place as who they are, perfect and complete as a manifestation of humanity, then what another provides is not missing pieces but an expanded awareness.
The illusion of being completed in another provides the foundation for all manner of anxiety and the impetus to focus on loss rather than fulfillment. If one is completed by another then a lack of integrity on their part in keeping to their word becomes more than just a lapse in judgment or an indication of their character. Instead, it reflects on you as well in a reciprocal process of emotional pain.
“In contrast to symbiotic union, mature love is union under the condition of preserving one’s integrity, one’s individuality. Love is an active power in man; a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense isolation and separateness, yet it permits him to be himself, to retain his integrity.” (Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving)
Clearly Fromm here means more than the male gender and is concerned with love, not simply in its romantic form, as a source of human expansion. Love, here, is concerned with the removal of one’s focus on lack or separation, realigning within a place of personal integrity.
Focus to Move Forward
A partner may cheat, they may stray, but focus on the relationship as an expansive quality of honest and open shared living. Doing so has their actions reflect only on themselves, not on who you are as a complete person. Interests change, what was once the powerful experience of the power of lust and initial feeling of newness, shifts and changes based on circumstance and the flow of life. This is an inevitable process in the art of forming relationships and provides a space for the expansion of intention. We can keep to the principles of a life given to expressing integrity and joyful identity. We can explore the myriad of potential connections waiting to provide the space for widening the road of each of our journeys.