Why Good Relationships Go Bad

by Eckhart Tolle

an excerpt from
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Unless and until you access the consciousness frequency of presence, 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 "love 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. The relationship then 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 negative, destructive cycles occur with increasing frequency and intensity, which tends to happen sooner or later, then it will not be long before the relationship finally collapses.

It may appear that if you could only eliminate the 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 dependent. 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 relationships - not of true love, which has no opposite because it arises from beyond the mind. Love as a continuous state is as yet very rare - as rare as conscious human beings. Brief and elusive glimpses of love, however, are possible whenever there is a gap in the stream of mind.

The negative side of a relationship is, of course, more easily recognizable 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 very 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 a 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, fear of loss. 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?

...If in your relationships 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 as opposite, then it is not love but a strong ego-need for a more complete and deeper sense of self, a need that the other person temporarily meets. It is the ego's substitute for salvation, and for a short time it almost does feel like salvation.

But there comes a point when your partner behaves in ways that fail to meet your needs, or rather those of your ego. The feelings of fear, pain, and lack that are an intrinsic part of egoic consciousness but had been covered up by the "love relationship" now resurface. Just as with every other addiction, you are on a high when the drug is available, but invariably there comes a time when the drug no longer works for you. When those painful feelings reappear, you feel them even more strongly than before, and what is more, you now perceive your partner as the cause of those feelings. This means that you project them outward and attack the other with all the savage violence that is part of your pain. This attack may awaken the partner's own pain, and he or she may counter your attack. At this point, the ego is still unconsciously hoping that its attack or its attempts at manipulation will be sufficient punishment to induce your partner to change their behavior . . .

The reason why the romantic 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 condition in its unredeemed and unenlightened state...

the above was an excerpt from
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

...and now, the key question:

Why does this happen?

To answer this, we had to explore some other thinkers.

Here's an interesting one we found:

"When you feel hatred for someone, what is this impulse that leads you to pulverise him with a look or even to strike him?
And if you love someone tenderly, what is this impulse that moves you to smile at him, to speak sweetly to him and to bring him gifts?
Whether it is love or hate, it is always the same impulse: sometimes it manifests in the Venusian form and acts with delicacy, expressiveness, poetry, and gentleness, and sometimes it becomes Martian and can shatter everything in its path. Just observe how love which manifests in too low a form can transform into violence. The need to satisfy their desires makes men and women egotistical, cruel, and thoughtless where another is concerned. On the contrary, those who wish to manifest the higher degrees of love act with generosity and selflessness, and with consideration for the future of the person they love. And yet, in its origins, the impulse is the same."
- Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

Interesting, isn't it?

"...the impulse is the same."

So, "love" and "hate" spring from the same impulse...?

Is this something Shakespeare was aware of also?

"My only love sprung from my only hate!

(from Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 5)

So, is there a kind of "love" that goes beyond this kind? - that goes beyond the usual love-that's-the-opposite-yet-twin-of-hate? That goes beyond, in other words, duality?

What do you think?

Some interesting stuff to explore here.

And we, your fuzzy, warm, mega-loveable LiveReal Agents plan to continue exploring.

Onward ho.

Back To "Intimate Relationships: The Typical Cycle"

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