The deeper we allow ourselves to enter into relationship, the closer we come to a state of unconditional love and mutual acceptance. The more we are removed, the further we are from the love, intimacy and connection that we, ourselves, are seeking. The challenge is fostering the willingness to let go of our ego enough to surrender ourselves, without losing ourselves.

Unconditional or soul-mate love is about putting another person’s needs in front of our own without reservation, and without distorting ourselves. Because we are, by nature, self-interested first and other-interested second, this isn’t something that’s always easy for us to do. It requires us to surrender ourselves to something over which we have little or no control; something that flies right in the face of our ego and abject self-interest. On the other hand, that surrender is one of the singular keys to a successful, abiding and conscious partnership.

Most everything that we do is self-motivated. Not an entirely unreasonable perspective if we consider that the little narcissistic tendency that we each harbor is more or less, at its core, just a psychosocial expression of our hard-wired survival instinct. The presumption is that because we have the capacity to recognize the difference between instinctive tendency and social imperative, we are able to bypass instinctive tendencies and engage in social imperatives. Very often that’s something of a challenge for us, and one of its effects is that it can interfere not only with the creation of conscious relationship, but also with our actually getting what we believe we’re getting from that relationship.

Recognizing and acknowledging our partner’s needs without judgment or consequence is essential to creating and sustaining a healthy relationship. The ability to recognize, acknowledge and hold space for our partner’s needs in the immediate moment can be an even more important quality that we can bring to a relationship.

The first of these elements is about the fabric of the relationship, the ebb and flow of partnership, the moments of cooperation, acceptance and appreciation that are all part of the container of relationship. The second is more personal, and is about how we, as partners, engage in the relationship, the depth to which we are willing to engage and the ease with which we can do that. This, itself, is a testament to our own level of self-awareness, as much as it is a testament to our awareness of our partner’s needs, whether in the moment or overall. It’s also a testament to our degree of egoless self-possession and feelings of self-worth. Surrender takes strength – not the strength of ego, but a strength of spirit.

So, on that odd day when our partner needs to hang out on the couch and watch movies instead of “following the plan”, our ability to recognize that need and simply go with it – rather than beleagueredly attempting to maintain our own agenda or impose our self-interest – can have a monumentally positive impact, not only on the relationship as a whole, but on what we get back from it. Whether we’re talking about cave-dwellers or corporate executives, there is one simple lesson that we, as a species, learned long ago – you get out what you put in. So, why not, when it comes to love, go all in?

By consciously engaging our partner and surrendering ourselves to the cooperative balance that is essential to nurturing the social and emotional aspects of relationship, we consciously engage ourselves in the relationship. By apparently giving something up, we are, in reality, gaining for ourselves — and providing for our partner — a deeper level of intimacy and authenticity within the relationship as a whole.

You get what you give – every time.

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