The Most Important Thing to Look for in a Relationship

@infohome (1222)
March 24, 2007 8:13am CST
Good looking, intelligent, personable, self-assured, these are important, but if the most important thing is missing, the relationship could be doomed. Usually we are attracted by physical attributes, the most obvious being gender, but build, height, hair color – all of these count too. Then we subconsciously look for things that compliment our deficiencies, and that might carry over in a positive way to any offspring that might result. It’s a biological and psychological process. If all of this fits, then emotion takes over in the form of strong desire, and if the relationship proceeds on track, the desire becomes merely an attachment and a clinging if the most important attribute, the one we haven’t discussed yet, doesn’t come into play. Think about when the desire begins to fade, as it will, and when the attachment and clinging becomes no more than a security thing; then what? This is the point when a relationship will either survive or fail, depending on the psychological needs of each partner and how strongly they require sensual stimulations. Approximately 50 % of marriages fail, and the number of failed relationships, although unknown, eclipses that figure for sure. So the question is; what lengths would you be prepared to go to, to insure the survival of your relationship? If I could tell you what was the most important thing in a relationship, and that this most important thing would almost certainly insure your relationship’s survival, and . . . if it didn’t cost any money (and very little time), would you consider it? This most important thing creates harmony in any relationship between human beings. Without it, we sink to our survival instincts of selfish greed, hatred, and confusion about life. This most important thing has nothing to do with religious beliefs or ideals; it is a very human element. We could call it love, however love has many faces, and the love we speak of here is not a love where we might love one but hate another, because that “other” could easily become you someday. If the capacity for hatred remains inside of us, it’s only a matter of time before that hatred is turned on those we supposedly love – the hatred is too painful to hold inside and must be released, usually on the ones nearest and dearest. This is because the “love” we thought we had for each other had been no more than lust and attachment, not authentic love at all. Authentic love means that we love everybody. And it’s not a gushy love; it’s more mature than that. It’s respect, compassion, wisdom – all rolled up into one - and that one thing that is the most important in a relationship is . . . "Unconditional Love." The person who has developed unconditional love will love you from a deeper level than merely lust or attachment. This person will love you for the same reason that he or she loves humanity, because they do not set themselves apart from humanity; they are an integral part of it. So look for unconditional love in a person; it’s easy to spot. And when you spot it, make certain that you can respond in kind. This special love, however, is either in your heart or not, and if it isn’t, first acknowledge that it is not there, and then do something about it. To do something about it, begin with sitting quietly every evening for a few minutes and watch the many thoughts that flit through your mind. The fearful thoughts are the ones that keep you from unconditional love, and all you have to do is acknowledge them as you sit quietly and wait for the next thought to appear. Picture yourself on a freeway overpass, and the cars and trucks passing below your thoughts. Don’t jump into one and go for a ride, just watch them pass below and out of sight without becoming involved. This is how unconditional love is born, because our thoughts are our “selves,” and as we slowly distance ourselves from our negative thoughts, we slowly distance ourselves from our negative “selves,” and when we do that, the hatred we once had for those we don’t agree with softens, and we become unconditionally loving. This is the way to the strongest relationship possible – it’s the most important thing. E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit
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