Composite image of woman making heart shape with hands

Except for a few short term bursts of relationship, I’ve been mostly single for three years after twelve years of marriage ended in divorce, and jeez, things have changed in my dating process since last time I was single. My old list of “What I Want in a Partner” has mostly dissolved. Gone are the “wears boxers,” “likes green,” “great legs,” “enjoys hiking and skiing,” and “financially secure” items on my wish list. I’ve had to add some terms I hadn’t thought it necessary to add when I was younger, like “Not gay, married, living internationally with no chance of a visa, or expecting me to conceive another child.” Living in Marin County, I’m also realizing that I need to qualify that, while I don’t judge anyone who chooses such a lifestyle and I can certainly see the appeal of it, polyamory isn’t my cup ‘o’ tea. Been there. Tried that. It just doesn’t feel safe or stable to me, and it’s a lot of emotional work. Perhaps I’m just not enlightened enough, but my polyamory experiment left me concluding that my heart is just too tender and needs the gentle nest of what I’ll call “open monogamy” in order to open up all the way to the levels of intimacy I desire and am capable of giving.

Time, marriage, and maturity have definitely shifted my priorities. But the most radically paradigm-shifting change is this big fat realization.

I am only interested in a relationship with someone as committed to the spiritual path as I am.

There. I said it out loud, and you can hold me to it.

The Perils of Dating

It’s almost laughable what tends to happen when two egos get together to try to impress each other. There’s posturing. There’s game-playing. There’s guarding of the heart and masturbation of the intellect. There’s bravado about who has accomplished what and who knows who. There’s false modesty that cloaks over genuine lightworking. There’s hiding of shadows and disguise of the authentic self.

The dating ego dance is so obvious that I don’t last ten minutes with this kind of interaction before I pull out my metaphoric scalpel and start digging for something truthful and real. On one first date, I made a reference to the movie The Matrix and asked my date, “Red pill or blue pill?” He said, “Red pill,” and the relationship lasted six great months. Blue pill dates don’t interest me very much. I’m more interested in someone brave enough to show me Who He Really Is.

What Is a Spiritual Relationship?

When I talk about someone on a spiritual path, I’m not talking about religious zealotism here. That’s just another form of intolerance and judgment that feeds the story of separation. I’m talking about a relationship that recognizes that we are more than two egos, coming together to fulfill the insatiable hungry ghost desires of the personality. Rather, we are two spirits in human bodies communing to help each other wake up to the magnificence of our true Divine nature and the Oneness of all of life, two spirits committed to serving the revolution of love in our own unique ways, with the relationship as a vehicle for helping us fulfill our role in this world-healing revolution.

I envision a relationship where two hearts are so raw, loving, courageous, transparent, and wide open that there is almost no boundary between the two beings, not because of co-dependence and a lack of individual wholeness, but because of a pure recognition of the Oneness that exists between all of us. Rather than two “woundmates” coming together to fill a hole in each other, two whole and complete spiritual beings who have learned how to heal their own wounds unite to uplift and commune with one another, the Divine within one honoring and mirroring back the Divine within the other, not out of neediness, but as an act of celebration and growth. The Godself loving the Godself, spiraling up with a high vibration of spiritual autonomy but also healthy interdependence, passionately drawn together with the intention of waking up together and enjoying and experiencing this human life in all the ways humans can commune, serve, and celebrate.

Own Your Part in Conflict

A relationship committed to the spiritual path includes doing the deep and sometimes confronting work that accompanies waking up together. I envision two humble and resilient beings being honest about how they’re feeling but also being willing to move through their victim stories rapidly, owning our own part when conflict and adversity inevitably arises. When we are always aware that we are humans with egos and prone to error, but we are also infinite souls who are always growing, changing, and learning that which we came here to learn as part of our curriculum here at Earth School, humility arises, riding shotgun with confidence. We then have the opportunity to avoid the tendency to judge and blame others when things don’t go the way we wish they would, in recognition of how we co-create our lives, participating in all that manifests in our lives.

This doesn’t mean that you become a doormat in the name of unconditional love or that you employ some “spiritual bypass” to skip over painful emotions. Healthy boundaries and nonviolent communication makes healthy relationships, and feeling your feelings all the way keeps your energetic body clear. Such things affect how much intimacy is possible. My spiritual counselor has taught me to consider an intimacy dial on a scale from zero to ten. When trust is high in a relationship and the heart feels safe, you can dial up to ten. If trust is betrayed, your vulnerability is used against you, or disrespect and contempt arise in the relationship, there is a natural consequence as the intimacy dial is dialed down, not necessarily to zero, but perhaps to three or four. Over time, trust can rebuild if both partners are committed to repair. But if trust is repeatedly broken, high levels of intimacy are not sustainable. I yearn for the kind of relationship that is so infused with deep, abiding trust and mutual respect that the dial can stay at ten most of the time.

Open Monogamy

I envision an extraordinary combination of unconditional love and total freedom within a very open construct of monogamy, where monogamy isn’t a prison based on fear that threatens to possess another or shame another if it is violated; it’s a daily choice between two individuals who choose to be only with one another, day after day after day. Every day, both parties are inspired to be the person their partner most wants to be with, even when there’s a whole big wide world of choice out there. If the day comes where one wants to be with another, there is no prison and no shame, no wrathful jealousy or possessiveness. Honesty is crucial to trust, so both partners promise to always tell the truth, even if it’s hard to admit. Communication is wide open and truth is shared gently and with great respect. The door is open and the other is free to communicate their desire to be with another, but not impulsively, without first examining whether there are areas of the relationship in need of repair which might make one party vulnerable to seeking physical connection or falling in love with someone else. If both parties are committed to healing that which can be healed and one partner still chooses to be with another, they are free to follow their heart. Some monogamous relationships have expiration dates, and that doesn’t have to equal failure. But choosing to exit the container of monogamy to follow your heart is very different than the disrespect that accompanies infidelity. Infidelity shatters trust, but open communication about your feelings about another can boost intimacy. When feeling attracted to another person is not taboo, such authentic communication can become a gateway to greater intimacy. Then, with a foundation of trust, such situations can be handled consciously.

A Commitment to Kindness

In a relationship committed to the spiritual path, love is a feeling, but kindness is an action. I envision a relationship where kindness to self is a primary value for both partners, so that kindness to the other is a natural byproduct of self-kindness and self care. Rather than giving until we’re depleted and then resenting the other, we give only what we have to give, from the open heart, not from fear that we won’t be loved if we don’t over-give. This is not a selfish act. It is a generous act of love to be gentle and loving and compassionate to self so there is bountiful overflow of loving kindness to the other. The actions of love that arise from care of the self can be extraordinary, but they rarely arise from the depleted, resentful, self-sacrificing being. When you treat yourself like the Divine being that you are, your heart opens and gives generously to others, almost effortlessly.

Sexuality as a Spiritual Path

In a spiritual partnership, sex becomes a gateway to communion with the Divine, rather than simply a mutual quest to get off. With love and tenderness holding the vulnerability of the heart safe in an ocean of trust, physical intimacy becomes a gateway to expanded states of consciousness, where you see the Divine in the eyes of your beloved, and you are seen as the embodiment of the Divine in the eyes of your beloved. As you share breath and heartbeats, you experience pleasure not just from the superficial level of genital orgasm, but from the deep heart connection and deep pleasure of full-bodied ecstatic union. As two people commune sexually as a gateway to spiritual connection, unhealed wounds can be cleared, conflicts between the partners can be healed, and Divine love can enter the union as a reminder of what is possible when unconditional love marries the flesh. While I don’t know much about Tantra and Taoist sexuality, I find myself attracted to these expressions of sexual intimacy .

A Continuous Commitment to Growth

Because we are human, sometimes we go unconscious, and we need our partner to help illuminate our blind spots—gently and with love, but also fiercely, as someone who stands for the soul of the beloved. A spiritual relationship requires continuously being willing to shine light on the dark places, even when it gets uncomfortable. We have to be willing to see therapists or spiritual counselors or wise friends who can help us grow, especially when we grow blind. A humble commitment to a lifetime of growth is tantamount to a spiritual relationship. The minute we are arrogant enough to think we are “there,” we must insert a question mark and adopt the mantra my mentor Rachel Naomi Remen gave me—“Be curious.” This puts us into beginner’s mind, where we’re willing to not know, where we’re open to growth, even if it feels uncomfortable.

When two people are on a continuous journey to wake up to our true essence, to peel back the layers of ego to bring more of the soul’s light into the relationship and into the world, miraculous things can happen. I know. I have glimpsed such a relationship, though I’m still currently single. This kind of relationship can be extraordinarily intense, and if both partners aren’t ready, even the most intensely growth-enhancing spiritual relationship can flame out. But I have faith. I can feel this kind of partner coming closer, as I clear everything within me that would make me not yet ready for this kind of partnership.

Deep Refuge

While this might sound hard and intense, I don’t think relationships are always supposed to be hard. I yearn for a relationship that becomes a place of refuge, a nest of comfort in a difficult world, where safety and trust create a sacred container that fosters rest, relaxation, and pleasure. Amidst a world that jacks up our nervous systems 24/7, we need opportunities to experience calming love and reassuring comfort. We can use our spiritual practices to find such refuge within ourselves, but when two whole beings can access such refuge individually, we are free to come together and amplify this feeling of refuge.

Be the Partner You Desire

It all starts with becoming the kind of partner you would want to be with. If all of this resonates with you and ignites a deep longing for something you don’t yet have, surrender your desire to the Universe. Align your energy with that which your soul yearns for. Ask for Divine help co-creating what you desire, or ask that your longing lessen so you can relish life without a partner. Do your inner work. Unblock your blocks. Open your heart. Face your shadows without self-judgment. Let in as much light as you can stand. Then accept. Accept. Accept what is. Stop resisting. Let life flow through you. Radiate. Don’t grasp at what you want so desperately. Become magnetic instead, then let go again.

As Tosha Silver says, “The very act of grasping for the feather creates the wind current that pushes it away.” Let go. Let God. Trust. Enjoy life. Celebrate beauty. Be grateful for everything. You are worthy of love.

With love,

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27 Comments

  1. Janette Rene

    I feel like I am in the exact same space, you words defined it perfectly! Thank you for sharing and relating it to what I feel is such a relevant topic right now, especially with more of us desiring something Divinely Delicious! Dating today has really changed, and after coming out of a 21 year marriage. I am experiencing first-hand all of what you have described…and funny thing, I’ve come to a similar conclusion. HE is worth the wait <3

    Reply
    • Rick

      Help! Did I miss something? Are people reading about the open
      monogamy part of Lissa’s blog? In 99% of the couples I know, unless you knowing go into a swingers relationship, the idea of “open monogamy” would be a one way ticket to losing your partner and step 1 of divorce. Lissa is awesome and I truly can identify with so much of her writing but that “open monogamy” section threw me for a loop. “If the day comes where one wants to be with another, there is no prison and no shame, no wrathful jealousy or possessiveness. Honesty is crucial to trust, so both partners promise to always tell the truth, even if it’s hard to admit.” Huh? It seems like your partner must have no emotions?
      If all is hunky dory (my words) as Lissa beautifully describes how is your
      partner not going to be hurt even if the standard is “Honesty is crucial to trust, so both partners promise to always tell the truth, even if it’s hard to admit.”.

      No matter how open and honest you are, I cannot even imagine presenting this idea to someone you are soulfully in love with. The concepts contradict each other. Even if you are open and totally truthful about temptation and the “grass looks greener on the other side”, etc. is it not understood you cannot just give into desire, even of the deepest kind? That is what is known as temptation and every long term
      marriage, relationship, etc. experiences it. Don’t you commit to one another after realizing this could be your soul mate? This “open monogamy” concept, to me, is an oxymoron and is one of the TOP reasons for divorce, no matter how open and honest and truthful two people are. I can easily see this as being emotionally soul crushing to your partner. Lissa wrote so beautifully about the fundamental
      building blocks of a soul based relationship that my mind was thinking a
      committed type of relationship but maybe commitment is not the intent here. Maybe I missed the message but it does not jive with the rest of the beautiful concepts and ideas Lissa presents.

      Possibly a deeper understanding of yourself, love for yourself, deep connection with spirit, emotional stability, calm, and happiness could prepare you to receive love without the disclaimer of open monogamy. Life always gives you guidance if you are listening.

      My mantra for life and love, start with the fundamentals on anything and you won’t go wrong. If your making a house, have a solid foundation. If you want a relationship start with a solid foundation a.k.a. a fun, open, excellent communication, no assumptions friendship. In every marriage I
      know 50 years and more (and happy) it’s always about how you respond and adjust to diversity. The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work, yes marriage is work those happy couples say. Why can’t people just do those basic things? I am still looking for a woman with those basics. People give up to easy in this era. The best always happens when you are just about to give up.

      Disclaimer: I am single, never married, no kids, (except for my loving Labrador) and happy. Always in search of the one and I will use much of what Lissa wrote to explain and share my ideas of love to future prospects. I have had healthy strong relationships and still friends today with all I have dated. I am open to marriage if life allows it and believe it is life’s icing on the cake.

      Reply
  2. SuperJill46

    WOW! LISSA! This could be my love manifesto! Admittedl, your last two paragraphs woke up the tears. thank you for the reminder!

    Reply
  3. Maureen Russell

    Love this entire post! I am married (experiencing some issues at the time) and I am finding ways in which most, if not all, of your suggestions are applicable to the marriage relationship as well as the dating one. Thanks for this wonderful piece of brilliance! 🙂

    Reply
  4. Stephanie

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring thoughts and experiences with us, Lissa. Your words here are exactly what I needed to hear right now. I agree with SuperJill46’s comment below- this could be my own love manifesto as well. It gives me great clarity to read what you’ve written.

    Reply
  5. Kim Rogers Cochrane

    Brilliant Lissa! Thank you! So much to digest! I’m must re-read it! The following words really resonated with me, “The Godself loving the God self, spiraling up with a high vibration of spiritual autonomy.”.

    Reply
  6. Jen

    I feel like you are putting conditions on Spirit – that the ideal person for you is one who is committed to spiritual growth together. This would be wonderful (and easy) to be with a person who thinks the same as you. However this may not be the case – the person that makes you grow may be totally opposite hence the learning and growth would be much more difficult. It is all about what our Soul has chosen for the journey in this lifetime.
    Jen

    Reply
    • Peeps

      Jen I wondered this too. Being open to what our soul has chosen is another arm of our spiritual journey to find our essence. Feels like Lisa needs to streamline and maybe that is best for her just now. For me? I’m going with what feels right and am trying not to analyse but observe synchonisities.

      Reply
  7. Lisa Saffle

    How many men have you found that are on that path? I hate to be pessimistic but has it not been challenging?

    Reply
    • Jenifer Gransee

      I have to say I agree…. and if you notice all the comments are from women. The article is beautifully written from the point of view of a woman.

      Reply
    • Ben Godsmark

      We exist 🙂 Love, light, faith, blessings.
      If you follow sites like spirit science and collective evolution there’s a lot of men also commenting. Maybe Lissa resonates more with women; maybe most men still find it weird to accept this kind of guidance from a woman. Personally, she resonates deeply with me.

      Reply
    • Falconsoars

      I agree with Ben – we do exist. But I wonder about the equivalent in women, no matter how many of the “right words” they say about it??? (I know I’m opening up myself to get completely blasted out of the water on this, but I’m going for it anyway…)

      I’ve pretty much given up on finding a female partner on this path after 5 major failures (3 marriages, 2 life/domestic partnerships, lasting 3-13 yrs). I was really messed up emotionally from my childhood and adolescence, but I took it upon myself to try to heal those wounds thru 17 years of psychotherapy, intense spiritual study and practice, and more self-help/personal growth books, workshops, and support groups than I can count. I’m never done healing emotionally and I do experience setbacks. But generally I’ve evolved to where I feel I genuinely express love and caring most of the time, with only occasional bursts of anger about things that frankly deserve some.

      But I haven’t been involved with a woman yet who’s on a similar spiritual path that isn’t carrying a lot of latent emotional baggage she hasn’t cleared yet, that no amount of spiritual practice will heal by itself. The most difficult part of it is that this latent anger is disguised as feminism so she has an excuse for not dealing with it. I am SO tired of hearing what I know is latent anger from a deeper root cause come out in tirades against men, society, etc etc mistreating women. I TOTALLY support women in their feelings and actions in gaining gender equality, and fight for those equal rights myself. But I don’t feel it’s justified to use this as a means of releasing a lifetime of anger about everything else that has happened to her. I just don’t feel her soft, caring, nuturing, feminine heart and spirit anymore. I’m not interested in being with a woman who is just like a man. And I’m not interested in metafuzzies either – women who talk about and are into all the latest spiritual trends, often almost fanatically, but are still emotional adolescents.

      Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying men are any better about this. In fact, they’re worse. I’ve met and known a lot more very emotionally immature and metafuzzy men than women. That’s why I am very selective about my male friends. In fact, I find it easier to find close female friends.

      But it’s that next step beyond friendship into intimacy and commitment that seems to bring out all that baggage from their past. Unfortunately, being bombarded with these feelings over an extended period is the one thing that can still sometimes suck me into some of my old emotional baggage too. So we end up in a vicious, reinforcing cycle of immature emotions.

      My future increasingly appears to be a solo path because of this. It feels like I’ll need to remain content with having many dear female friends (and I do have and cherish them) without that one special, very deep, intimate, heart and soul-bonded, love relationship I’m been searching for all my life. So I’m now looking for a different kind of blog/advice – platonic “dating” – how to initiate and sustain relationships with all the joys of dating without the expectation of further intimacy or commitment (and I’m not talking about friends with benefits; I’m talking about just really good friends).

      Reply
  8. Brenda Millar

    Excellent! Thank you for sharing your heart

    Reply
  9. Megahn

    I really needed this right now. Just broke up with my boyfriend and I do not know if it was the right thing to do. Single again at 41. Oh well, God is good and I guess I will just have to wait to see what happens. Tears came streaming down for me as well. Thanks again Lissa I needed this. It will be okay, even if I am single for the rest of my life. It will be okay.

    Reply
  10. Sally B. Sedgwick

    Thanks. This has been part of my visioning, breathing, living – but love that you have “fleshed” – or maybe spirited – out this conversation for me. Sending love.

    Reply
  11. Heidi

    I am in the same boat, and this was such a perfectly-timed and beautiful
    read for me tonight. I know that ‘the one’ is out there,
    looking/waiting for his ‘the one’, and that when our souls are ready to
    meet, they will. But I am also open to Spirit guiding me, letting me
    know if I should put myself out there in some way, shape or
    form…difficult as a single mum with three youngsters…not too much
    time alone…and wondering if the grocery store counts as ‘out there’.
    He will come into my life, and I into his, and your line about asking
    that my longing be lessened so I can relish my life now without
    someone…that it what I am trying to do. Thank you!

    Reply
  12. Karen

    Wow thank you for putting it all into one writing! I would add though that I would also want to enjoy the human path- healthy eating, enjoyable ‘naughty’ meals and wine sometimes- enjoying the human benefits! Etc but with this focus above! 🙂

    Reply
  13. Humaira Hamid

    All of this. YES. Thank you. Deep bows, full gratitude. For articulating this and sharing with us. So much resonance.

    xo ~ H

    Reply
  14. Leesa Wilson

    It has been a long while since I read such personally, profound truths. Your words are like looking into a mirror. They truly resonate with my own authentic essence and soulful desire that it felt as if I were timelessly reading the forgotten pages of an old journal. Thank you so much for reminding me (especially at this moment in my life) what is desirable, meaningful, and wise. Infinite blessings.

    Reply
  15. Tina Greene

    Lissa, you NAILED it. I don’t think I’ve allowed myself to say these things out loud. Seeking someone who is also on the spiritual path. I’ve just assumed that I don’t get to get “it” this time around. This post makes me question that assumption and stand in the emptiness, the inquiry. Thank you

    Reply
  16. Kathryn Speranza

    Perfect. I could not put it into words as you did. Thank you, thank you!!!

    Reply
  17. Krista

    Beautiful and rich presentation! Thank you!

    Reply
  18. Jason Sugar

    I just quickly scanned this article as I was looking for something else…however, I am definitely bookmarking this and coming back when I have more time to dive headfirst into the refreshing and juicy richness of what could also become my relationship manifesto… Wow, I’m glad I stumbled onto you, Dr. Rankin!

    Reply
  19. Rav Toor

    This is so beautifully written! It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  20. Schahrzad Morgan

    I love what you wrote. I’m wondering if you think it’s “wrong” to enjoy sex for its pure lustful pleasure or if you can only enjoy it if you bring God into it. I wrote a sex memoir called Pleasure and while I crave intimacy and eye contact, I love the pure physicality of being in my body too and I honestly never think of God while I am fucking, except to always honor and respect the person I am with and myself too.

    Reply
  21. Rachel A Shannon

    This is EXACTLY what my soul longs for! There’s nothing more to be said except…You nailed it! and…Where is he? 🙂

    Reply

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