Relationships: What Lies Underneath Them

[Written around 2004.]

People who are not fully enlightened use romantic relationships to hide from the truth. They want to bypass the painful healing process and disappear into false pleasure and false security. They desire either to find the perfect parent they never had or the perfect object onto whom they can project their unconscious rage at their parents – or both. They want someone to finally love them fully, understand them, take them under their wing, protect them, guide them, and be selfless with them. But this is impossible.

Only a fully enlightened person can love another completely. He can do this because he has learned to love himself completely. He would never tolerate being in an intimate relationship with someone not also fully enlightened, because it would be destructive to him. And no fully enlightened equal would ever ask that he meet their unresolved parental needs – firstly because they would no longer have any, and secondly, even if they did, it would not be appropriate to use an intimate for this purpose.

Truly harmonious and deeply satisfying relationships are only available for people who have resolved their deepest childhood conflicts. And until you have resolved your deepest childhood conflicts, your job is to learn how to be in an ideal relationship with yourself.

14 thoughts on “Relationships: What Lies Underneath Them

  1. Hi Dan and everyone,
    before my comment, about myself. I am a Hungarian woman, working in the anti-VAW movement and also in contemporary art, living a nonconventional life in many sense, and due to financial and political reason I live together with a friend of mine and doing a sort of co-parenting (with her 4 kids). I live in a female subculture with my friends and kids and their partners (if they have any). Many of us active OKC users from Hungary.

    You are right that dating is unreflective and everyone should be conscious about themselves. However, I think it is always problematic if a man speaks about dating to women…. And also a person who lives in a high-income country and live his privileged life.
    I listened also your interview from on dating and celibacy. In a male chauvinist world for men to experience sexual joy and receive emotional support is much easier than for women. If a woman turn to me with dating questions I never said any generalization apart being suspicious with any men and have a good female friend a kind of body guard to share every important move while dating. As dating is the most dangerous field for heterosexual women not only because of dating rapes, but because of abusers (not only physical, but emotional, economical etc).

    Dan, it would be destructive for my friends to keep your advice in every details. There are no men around us to be selected as partners, the best advice apart from celibacy is learn how to deconstruct our feelings and dating men and survive very well in patriarchy…. Of course it is a compromise. But we live in patriarchy, the only hope is meeting someone who is exceptional and let us educate them about what makes a good working relationship good and what is their responsibility.

    • hi Emese—
      thanks for what you write. i wrote that essay 12 years ago, not sure i agree with it 100% anymore, yet…basically i think i do. as for my advice……i’m not quite sure i’m giving any advice these days, and hopefully at best sharing some ideas which people can take or leave or learn from or critique. hopefully it’s helpful to someone!! by the way, i was in hungary in november of 2014 for an afternoon (with a group of woman, actually). we drove up from croatia (we were near the border) and had lunch in a lovely little down and drove around the countryside. it was my only time in hungary……someday i hope to return. greetings to you—–daniel

  2. Interesting thought provoking words, Daniel.

    I am of the opinion that we likely need balance betwixt learning to love in relationships/with another person and learning to love by working on the healing of our own individual shit, alone. And while I agree that human beings have a tendency to work out/project/attempt to heal all (not just parental) traumas in relationships and this is the elephant part in any relationship, at the same time–no one is–nor ever will be fully healed and to think that therefore significant other relationships are to be avoided until fully healed seems a little too lofty for most of humanity. I am also of the mindset that we are meant to be connected to other human beings which is why we often have such strained longing when it comes to relationships. And it also seems that this decision–to heal alone or otherwise–is for each to make as part of the journey on his/her own.

    At the same time, we must also admit the inverse is also true at times–that genuine love (not merely romantic) can be a tremendously, creative, healing force itself–where the “working out” actually somehow “works out”–though this outcome is decidedly more rare. I’m not advocating that we ought to pursue the healing in the relationship venue but rather that sometimes it just happens. And if one comes across one such a happening in any relationship in life, it ought be treasured. I consider myself rich for having had such a friend in life–not a romantic relationship.

    I tend to think that true, authentic, romantic partnerships can occur when both halves of the significant other are equally committed to working on themselves and growth. And, I would add, perhaps at a similar point on a path of the healing pilgrimage/self awareness/enlightenment/etc.

    I also suspect that far too many people are mostly unconscious and largely want to avoid the pain of growth/development, whether it be inside or outside a relationship which renders an authentic relationship (between the conscious and unconscious) difficult, at best, if not nigh impossible. But I also think consciousness and unconsciousness come in degrees. We wake up a little bit at a time, then a little more, til we look back and find we almost can’t relate to the person we used to be–and also paradoxically still kind of are. In my own experience, my healing friendship played a significant part in my “waking up” bit by bit and continues to do so.

    I realize you posted this entry several years ago and have likely walked further on your own pilgrimage. Peace and continued healing for you and for us all.

    • lovely message, jenn — i admit to liking it a lot. my life is taking me in some different directions — and i should go back and read my original essay again. my guess is that i’ll probably like the deeper message and agree with it but be a little more relaxed about trying out romance — for the sake of growth and exploration. wishing you the best — and thank you for your words.

  3. Hello, I am a curious person questioning my living. I just wonder, how do you learn? All by yourself? Isn’t it possible to learn while you also love?
    I think I am a romantic person. I have been trying to learn by myself for years, but my experience now is that humans need other humans to learn. What is your opinion on this?
    I find it hard to believe that we must be perfect human beings before we can allow ourselves to love. I think love makes us better human beings. Love can nurture the good things in us. Life is much about feelings and not so much about statistics and reality. I do not understand how I can be able to take in the reality of the world, without going under in depression, if I cannot have love. We need to love, to be loved, to feel that we have real relations.

    I am seeing a therapist, and I have discussions with the therapist about how to learn by therapy. What is authentic in therapy, and what are illusions neccessary to create change. Very interesting dialogs. I will proceed to read your blog with interest.

    • greetings sofus. sorry i didn’t answer this before — for some reason i didn’t see it. i think it’s possible to learn while loving — and possibly there’s much to be learned. but i think the main stuff is learned by oneself in one’s on private relationship with oneself, not in the relationship with one’s partner. also, to me it’s a question of what love is: to nurture or to need? the needy stuff is best worked out internally — not acted out in a relationship with a partner.
      wishing you the best, sofus,

      • I think we have a different understanding of the word love. I mean the true love, not the passionate or erotic part, the plain love from one human to another. The love that gives, like a true gift, without demanding anything back. This is the love I am talking about.

        After reading Alice Miller and you, I can see a huge difference between you. In your writing I read anger, fight, war. And I can feel the distrust you have in mankind, like a hurt child not understanding the world. In Alice Miller I read understanding, love, the will to work and find ways to repair damage in everyone. I can read love of mankind. I honestly think we need to believe that good things do happen if we let it. We cannot make a good world with fighting a war. Fighting makes warriors, and warriors are dangerous, damaged humans. They have scars in their souls that make them distrust life.
        I honestly think that your selftherapy has not worked. Because it cannot work. You need other persons to work with, so that you can experience trust, love, and other good things in life. And then you can spread the good news about what we need to be authentic humans. And I think an authentic, listening person will be a good enough parent. A child do not need a perfect human. Everybody makes mistakes, and for a child it is a good learning that also a parent can make mistakes, regret and repair the damage done.The child will also make mistakes, and learn to forgive itself.

        I hope you can find someone who really loves you, who can give you the experience of beeing loved, so that you can learn how to love.

        I wish you the best.,
        from Sofus

        • hi sofus,
          greetings. well……..hmm…….what to say? about your reading of me versus alice miller………i can’t say i agree. her son’s biography of her is coming out soon (in german) and from what i understand he goes into detail about her real life and that she was pretty split off in a lot of ways — much less integrated, i think, than i am. (i’m not fully healed, though!!) so i think her writings and her person are two quite different things, as i explore in my essays on her. so to say that i’m all about anger and fight and war and she’s not….well…..i think that’s somewhat mistaken both as it relates to her and me.

          that said, i’m all for love — true love!!
          wishing you the best

            • thanks, Sofus. one more thought: i’m still on the path of trying to figure out myself better, so some things i wrote a few years ago might not fully reflect where i’m at now. so if you pick up anger and fight in my writing it’s possible that there was more anger and fight in my writing a few years ago. but maybe my anger and fight had (and still has) some value?
              all the best,

        • I think this person takes a good reading. Ultimately it doesn’t matter where you are, you do not need to be enlightened to be allowed to just LIVE – or, to write the essays that you write, Daniel!

          Relationship IS the agent of growth, whether it is ‘romantic’ or friendship or whatever. You are living in relationship with every living thing, which is all that exists. Every living thing grants you the opportunity to define yourself in relationship to it. That’s the only way you CAN define yourself. I appreciate your analysis Daniel and I will want to read more, but I think this person is right. But it doesn’t matter where you are on your journey, you are allowed to LIVE – and write essays.

          • I have lived for so long on my own – now times have changed… a wonderful man appeared in my life and I only can say: Learning needs Relationship and Love, I would describe all my years alone before like a growth inhibitor. What an abstrus idea to wait til myself is perfect!

            • hi Kalinka,
              I respect what you say. I am on a journey of exploration myself — testing my ideas, testing myself, testing reality. I think it’s good to explore. Many different ways to learn. I am wishing you all the best,

        • Sofus,
          The last paragraph of your comments is incredibly arrogant and patronizing. It is a pathetic platitude. You assume the writer “hasn’t had the experience of being loved, so that they can learn how to love”.
          How would you know that? You wouldn’t!

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