Love/Hate Relationships

The reason why the romantic special love relationship is such an intense and universally sought-after experience is that it seems to offer liberation from a deep-seated state of fear, need, lack and incompleteness that is part of the human ego condition in its unredeemed and unenlightened state. There is a physical as well as a psychological dimension to this state.


On the physical level, you are obviously not whole, nor will you ever be: You are either a man or a woman, which is to say, one-half of the whole. On this level, the longing for wholeness, the return to oneness, manifests as male-female attraction, man's need for a woman, woman's need for a man. It is an almost irresistible urge for union with the opposite energy polarity. The root of this physical urge is a spiritual one: the longing for an end to duality, a return to the state of wholeness.

Sexual union is the closest you can get to this state on the physical level. This is why it is the most deeply satisfying experience that the physical realm can offer. But sexual union is no more than a fleeting glimpse of wholeness, an instant of bliss. As long as it is unconsciously sought as a means of salvation, you are seeking the end of duality on the level of form, where it cannot be found. You are given a tantalizing glimpse of heaven, but you are not allowed to dwell there, and find yourself again in a separate body. The reason why the romantic special love relationship is such an intense and universally sought-after experience is that it seems to offer liberation from a deep-seated state of fear, need, lack and incompleteness that is part of the human ego condition in its unredeemed and unenlightened state. There is a physical as well as a psychological dimension to this state.


On the psychological level, the sense of lack and incompleteness is, if anything, even greater than on the physical level. As long as you are identified with the ego mind, you have an externally derived sense of self. That is to say, you get your sense of who you are from things that ultimately have nothing to do with who you are:

  • your social role,
  • possessions,
  • external appearance,
  • successes,
  • failures,
  • belief systems, and so on.

This false, mind-made self, the ego, feels vulnerable, insecure, and is always seeking new things to identify with to give it a feeling that it exists. But nothing is ever enough to give it lasting fulfillment. Its fear remains; its sense of lack and neediness remains.

Addictive Clinging

If in your relationship you experience both love and the opposite of love—attack, emotional violence, and so on—then it is likely that you are confusing ego attachment and addictive clinging with love. You cannot love your partner one moment and attack him or her the next. True love has no opposite. If your love has an opposite, then it is not love but a strong ego-need for a more complete and deeper sense of your self, a need that the other person cannot meet for you. It is the ego's substitute for salvation or God.

Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to—alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person—you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain. That is why there is so much unhappiness, so much pain in most intimate relationships. They do not cause the pain and unhappiness. They bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in you.

Q: What do you mean by romantic special relationships?

Unless and until you access the consciousness frequency of Presence (God within), all relationships, and particularly intimate relationships, are deeply flawed and ultimately dysfunctional. They may seem perfect for a while, such as when you are in love, but invariably that apparent perfection gets disrupted as arguments, conflicts, dissatisfaction, and emotional or even physical violence occur with increasing frequency. It seems that most romantic relationships become love/hate relationships before long.

Love can then turn into

  • savage attack,
  • feelings of hostility, or
  • complete withdrawal of affection at the flick of a switch.

This is considered normal.

Special Relationships

The special relationship oscillates for a while, a few months or a few years, between the polarities of love and hate, and it gives you as much pleasure as it gives you pain. It is not uncommon for couples to become addicted to those cycles. Their drama makes them feel alive. When a balance between the positive/negative polarities is lost and the emotionally negative, destructive cycles occur with increasing frequency and intensity, which tends to happen sooner or later, then it will not be long before the special relationship finally collapses.

It may appear that if you could only eliminate the emotional negative or destructive cycles, then all would be well and the relationship would flower beautifully, but alas, this is not possible. The polarities are mutually interdependent. You cannot have one without the other. The positive already contains within itself the as yet unmanifested negative. Both are in fact different aspects of the same dysfunction. I am speaking here of what is commonly called romantic special relationships, not of true love, which has no opposite because it arises from beyond the ego mind.

True love as a continuous state is as yet very rare, as rare as conscious human beings. Brief and elusive glimpses of true love, however, are possible whenever there is a gap in the stream of ego mind.

The negative hate side of a special relationship is, of course, more easily recognized as dysfunctional than the positive one. And it is also easier to recognize the source of negativity in your partner than to see it in yourself. It can manifest in many forms:

  • possessiveness,
  • jealousy,
  • control,
  • withdrawal, and
  • unspoken resentment,
  • the need to be right,
  • insensitivity and self-absorption,
  • emotional demands and manipulation,
  • the urge to argue, criticize, judge, blame, or attack, anger,
  • unconscious revenge for past pain inflicted by a parent,
  • rage and physical violence.

On the positive side, you are in love with your partner. This is at first a deeply satisfying state. You feel intensely alive. Your existence has suddenly become meaningful because someone needs you, wants you, and makes you feel special, and you do the same for him or her. When you are together, you feel whole. The feeling can become so intense that the rest of the world fades into insignificance. However, you may also have noticed that there is a neediness and clinging quality to that intensity. You become addicted to the other person. He or she acts on you like a drug. You are on a high when the drug is available, but even the possibility or the thought that he or she might no longer be there for you can lead to jealousy, possessiveness, attempts at manipulation through emotional blackmail, blaming and accusing.

If the other person does leave you, this can give rise to the most intense hostility or the most profound grief and despair. In an instant, loving tenderness can turn into a savage attack or dreadful grief. Where is the love now? Can love change into its opposite in an instant? Was it love in the first place, or just an addictive grasping and clinging.

Q: I always thought that true enlightenment is not possible except through love in a relationship between a man and woman. Isn't this what makes us whole again? How can one's life be fulfilled until that happens?

Is that true in your experience? Has this happened to you?

Q: Not yet, but how could it be otherwise? I know that it will happen.

In other words, you are waiting for an event in time to save you. Is this not the core ego error that we have been talking about? Salvation is not elsewhere in place or time. It is here and now.

Q: What does that statement mean, salvation is here and now? I don't understand it. I don't even know what salvation means.

Most people pursue physical pleasures or various forms of psychological gratification because they believe that those things will make them happy or free from a feeling of fear or lack. Happiness may be perceived as a heightened sense of aliveness attained through physical pleasure, or a more secure and more complete sense of self attained through some form of psychological gratification. This is the search for salvation from a state of unsatisfactoriness or insufficiency. Invariably, any satisfaction that they obtain is short-lived, so the condition of satisfaction or fulfillment is usually projected once again onto an imaginary point away from the here and now. "When I obtain this or am free of that, then I will be okay." This is the unconscious mind-set that creates the illusion of salvation in the future.

True salvation is fulfillment, peace, life in all its fullness. It is to be who you really are, to feel within you the good that has no opposite, the joy of being that depends on nothing outside itself. It is felt not as a passing experience but as an abiding Presence. In theistic language it is to Know God, not as something outside you but as your own innermost essence.

True salvation is to know yourself as an inseparable part of the timeless one life which all that exists derives its being. True salvation is a state of freedom from fear, from suffering, from a perceived state of lack and insufficiency and therefore from all wanting, needing, grasping and clinging. It is freedom from compulsive ego thinking, from emotional negativity, and above all from past and future as a psychological need.


From The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle To make the journey into The Power of Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. Many of us will find that our biggest obstacle is our relationships. But we are in new territory and all is not what it seems. We come to see that our relationships are yet another doorway into spiritual enlightenment, if we use them to become more conscious and therefore more loving human beings. 

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