By Indira Grace
In 1973, Gary Chapman wrote the first edition of The Five Love Languages.
I was two years old at the time, with no awareness of the relationships that would move in and through my life. Throughout the last 48 years, I saw the book on bookshelves and in the hands of people, and I thought nothing of it. To be honest, I never saw the point. It looked like another version of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and I really just could not have cared less if I put forth the effort.
For my 48th birthday, I received a copy from one of my best friends. I guess I needed to put forth the effort to care a little more. The funny thing about a pandemic: all that alone time can sure make you think about yourself and all that you are unsatisfied with.
After three marriages that ended in divorce, I discovered that I may need to work on my relationship skills. Before I even got into the five different languages, I realized that Gary (we are on a first name basis now, this author and me) was hitting some major truths.
He speaks about how we, as human beings, crave to be loved. It is innate. However, when we have been wounded in our foundational relationships, it creates a chasm in our ability to feel loved, thus creating a craving. When that craving begins to be “satisfied” by another in a relationship, especially early on, we become almost blinded by the euphoria that we feel, hopeful that the chasm is being filled. After the euphoria dies down, we are left feeling more alone, more unloved, tricked, angry, and even disillusioned by what we thought was love; and we blame it all on the other person.
Clearly, with three marriages, I, too have felt that craving to be loved and have attempted to fill the chasm with relationships. I needed to come to grips with my actions, so I did not keep recycling my relationship pain. Now to apply my multiple relationships to Buddhist teachings.
The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism helps us understand the root cause of suffering.
According to the Dhammapada, craving or desire for comfort and pleasures (kama tanha) is one of the greatest causes of suffering. The craving brings with it a feeling of dissatisfaction—a sense of lack. You know how this goes. You are sitting around your house, bored. Maybe you binge-watched a series and you are restless. The restlessness begins to play tricks on the mind and the mind then tries to trick you into believing that something is missing in your life. Maybe it is a pizza, or a glass of wine, or the company of a like-minded person. And with each thing, the craving only gets worse.
The Dhammapada says, “What now is the noble truth of the origin of dukkha? It is craving, which gives rise to repeated existence, which is bound of up with pleasure and lust and finds ever-fresh delight, now here, now there.” It goes further to explain, “From craving there arises sorrow. From craving there arises fear.” Sorrow that you may have lost something you did not even know that you did not have and fear of missing out. In Unity, we call this “lack consciousness.”
With each relationship I entered, I thought I had found true love, but the truth is, I settled into a temporary solution to a temporary problem. I was never going to be satisfied in my relationships for one reason and one reason only; I thought I was incomplete without one. I thought that I was incomplete alone, simply by being me. Whether it was my wounded familial relationships or the lessons that society teaches us, or a combination of those and more, who knows.
I guess the movies are wrong; no one really can complete us.
It turns out, though, that all I needed to do was practice my meditation, read the dharma, heal my wounds, and mature in who I am and what my truth is, and then I could realize that I was completely complete—just as I am.
Yep, that’s it. Sit in the quiet, study the truth, heal my pain, grow older and wiser, and know myself.
The fact of the matter is this: if we are looking for love outside of ourselves, we will not find what we seek. We will find suffering, we will find loneliness, we will find more craving. We will find people who do not fit our needs. We will find fault with the things that we used to find endearing. We will find ourselves in relationships that are unsatisfying because what we are looking for can never be sustained by another person for very long.
Plain and simple, we will keep finding ourselves in a cycle of suffering.
Therefore, when entering relationships, ask yourself this: What is driving my need to be in this relationship? If it is loneliness, emptiness, a craving for something outside of you to fulfill you, you are probably entering into a cycle of suffering, and you are contributing to the suffering of another.
Practice your meditation, study your dharma, and heal your wounds. That, then, creates an energy of health and wholeness in your life, drawing to you love, rather than suffering.
Editor: Dana Gornall