Learning to love without expectations
painting by @stephanie.rose.freemanby Sonja Maria DeviPerhaps you have noticed that what can begin as a deep appreciation of someone we are attracted to, can so easily become distorted with expectations, emotional drama, and confusion once we move into the deeper territories of relationship.
We may have moments when we can easily love wholeheartedly and unconditionally, and at other moments we sabotage our highest intentions through toxic behaviour patterns, often without intending to. Why?
Deep love has the power to reveal our deepest, perhaps hidden woundsIt can reveal the pain and hurts of our early life, when perhaps we did not receive the love we yearned for. In response to these very strong feelings we may lash out in all kinds of ways, trying to regain control through blaming, pushing away, or holding on too tight.

How can we remain in the purity of our intention to love without it getting all mixed up with our unresolved ‘stuff’?

It is a big ask… huge in fact! Perhaps we will never officially ‘arrive’ in a place where we can consistently love wholeheartedly and surrender expectations for it to be reciprocated in the way that we want…And yet…we CAN develop the skills which will support us to become more honest and skilful in the way we navigate our relationships. Making conscious the patterns that show up in our relationships and meeting them in a mature way.

If we wish to create relationships based on trust, openness, and unconditional love rather than need, obligation, and expectation, we will be called to grow up, to own our shit, and to co-create a container that can hold the needs of both partners.

We will need to be very honest with ourselves. Become curious about what is showing up, rather than playing out those old patterns blindly.

This is the art of conscious relationship, where we choose to use our relationships as a crucible for mutual healing and growth.
Authentic, empowered relationshipsDespite years of deep work around my relating patterns my relationships STILL show me my weak points and where there is more healing to do. So please, I encourage you to be patient with yourself as you learn to navigate your relationship with more honesty. Know that your job is to be authentic – not ‘perfect’ – as you learn to meet your relationships in a more empowered way.

To love from a spacious place rather than a wounded place is an incredible gift, both to ourselves and whomever we are relating to. So it is worth doing the inner work and healing needed in order to show up and love fully, even when love our partner is not responding in the way we want.

Here are some useful questions to ask yourself, to ensure that you engage in your relationships without losing sight of the highest truth, as you navigate this terrain
1. Where is this action coming from?Before you take action in relation to the beloved in question, you can take a moment to reflect on whether unconscious tendrils of expectation are laced around this message, this request, this offer, this sexual advance…

Check in with yourself by gently asking yourself “Am I trying to get something? Or am I willing to allow my partner full freedom to respond in whatever way is true for them?”

Personally I have been amazed at how my pure intentions to give and receive love get hijacked by the needy little girl within me. So I keep on asking myself these questions:

  • “Where is this action coming from? Is it because I want validation of my worth?”
  • “Is it a ‘clean and clear’ expression of my love? Can I offer this without expecting anything in return?”
  • “Am I connected to myself as I relate to this person?“ Or, perhaps:
  • “Am I being honest with myself and my partner right now?”

If you get clear on what is really going on from your side, this alone will make a massive impact on the quality of your relating.
2. Is there something in me that needs to be tended to (by me) before I share my process with my partner?We all know those moments, when our partner does or doesn't do what we want, and it triggers a BIG reaction in us. Our responses may feel totally out of context to what has happened. But it feels SO real and intense for us. This plays out when unconscious material from deep inside has been activated.
In these moments that we have been emotionally triggered (whether it is with feelings of extreme insecurity, anger, or whatever), it is hugely useful to take the focus OFF the person who triggered it, and ON to yourself and the feelings that are being activated within you.

Ok so this is not easy, but at least try.
You may find that even though it LOOKS like it’s all about THEM, the feelings are in fact YOURS. And that these deep feelings want attention, from YOU.

When you acknowledge and allow them (and hang out with them for a bit without pushing them away), a process of healing occurs. You may well find yourself coming into a place of wholeness again, ready to relate from a much less volatile blame-y space.

You may find that the triggered parts of you needs love, not from your partner, but from yourself.

The path of learning to love unconditionally begins with the way that we meet the fragmented parts of our own selves.

Take the time to tune in to what you are really feeling. Hold yourself with the kind of care you would hope to receive from your beloved. If you can do this for yourself, then any care you will receive will be a bonus, not a crutch. This allows both you and your partner the freedom to give and receive by choice rather than obligation.
3. Am I projecting my father or mother story onto this person?Oh shit… it is hard to admit, but it is often the case. It is natural for us to repeat very old programs in our relationships.

We create all kinds of drama in order to re-experience the familiar and the unresolved.

Be patient with your own sweet self as you acknowledge the patterns and understand them more deeply. The more aware you are, the less power these patterns will have over you.

Keep on coming back to your present experience. Choose the fresh and new, and real, and visceral.

Notice the patterns, feel the feelings, and try not to get too discouraged or consumed by them. Over time your awareness will grow. And with it, your ability to love without projection from the past and expectations of the future
4. Am I allowing this person full freedom to be themselves?The processes of ‘setting your partner free’ after every intimate sharing is a profound practice! I notice that after a deep and beautiful sharing, I never want to let go. But something wiser in me knows that if I love someone I have to set them free, over and over again.

I have to honour their birthright to fully be themselves. And to do whatever feels truly right for them, regardless of my wants and needs.

Sometimes I actually have to remind myself that this being does not belong to me. He/she belongs to life. I do my best to pick the highest truth in the situation. Then I do all I can to align with that. It is not always easy! But as soon as I feel the grace of a love that is free and expansive, rather than heavy and loaded, it is immediately worth the effort.
painting by @stephanie.rose.freeman5. What is more important to me, being comfortable or being free?Conscious relating has us rub up against this question over and over again. One way of dealing with this is to continuously dedicate the relating to the highest truth.

Creating a strong intention to relate from a place of unconditional love and to learn, without taking it all too overly seriously, is the key.

Once you accept that the whole relationship is a set up, designed for both of you to grow, then the issues that arise do not feel like a mistake or a punishment. They are a gift, allowing us to meet and heal another layer of our fragmented selves.

The real fruits come when we can let the personal story take us beyond our limited selves and into the vast spacious essence of LOVE in our own beings. And that brings us back to the next all-important question to ask.
6. Am I willing to come back to trust?In our desire to give and receive love it can be so easy to get excited or fearful and forget that everything has its own timing and wisdom. When we come out of our connection with our true essence we can forget that we do not need to push love around. We do not need to ‘make’ it happen. In actual fact, none of us really wants the kind of love based on needs, obligations, and expectations.

Love needs space to breathe and grow in its own way.

Can we stay connected to that deep sense of trust to allow that? This is both the question and the practice.
When I find myself getting all obsessive about my beloved I kindly ask myself to take a step back: to rest into myself, nurture my own energy, and come back to the trust that everything is unfolding it should be. I remind myself that if my beloved and I are supposed to be together, then life will surely conspire to make it so.

I have to do this over and over again. Especially when I see myself leaning out of myself, and getting lost in a quagmire of needing and wanting. Consciously I choose to lean back into connection with myself. Choose to come back to trust.
7. How can I lovingly support myself as I explore my relating patterns?Support and compassion is KEY! Without liberal doses of both then it really can feel like a traumatic, hopeless, painful mess when we keep on bumping against our unresolved issues around intimacy.

Be kind and gentle as you explore yourself courageously through the lens of the relating game. Instead of making ourselves wrong for the patterns that block our love flowing without demands, we can use these questions to check out what is really going on.

Hold yourself tenderly. Whisper soothing words to yourself. Have big belly laughs with your support team about the perfectly designed drama playing out.

Sooner or later we begin to notice the patterns. We see where we have begun to let our past experiences affect the present situation, and how our wounded selves sabotage the simple love that is usually the impetus that has brought us together in the first place.
If you are already brave enough to bring your conscious awareness to your relationships, then I applaud you!

Unconditional love is exactly that – love without conditions. The more familiar we are with what blocks us from feeling and expressing unconditional love, the closer we get to fully embodying and receiving the love that we yearn for.

It takes much awareness, dedication, and willingness to explore our patterns. However conscious relating can heal our deepest wounds in a way that nothing else can.

Even though the journey may be full of tears and struggles, ultimately it returns us to our natural capacity to love – ourselves, and our partners – unconditionally.

And perhaps that is what relationships are all about.

About the author:
An Australian born healer, and educator, currently based in the jungle in Bali, Sonja Maria Devi is the founder of the Wild Sacred Feminine Wisdom School, and a mentor on the art of conscious relationship. A practical virgo as well as a wild unconventional mystic, when the world is not in lockdown, Sonja travels internationally, holding group healing rituals, intimacy and empowerment workshops, and transformational womens' retreats.
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