A Collection of Thoughts on Loving Relationships


By Richard Kieninger



Love and sex are so intertwined in our experience with the opposite gender that they seem to be but different manifestations of a single source. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take much examination to recognize that some relationships can be wholly based on sexual excitement, whereas others can be devoid of sexual overtones while clearly expressive of warm admiration and recognition of both persons being on compatible “wavelengths”.


Relationships based principally on gratification of the biological sex drive are usually spurred on by the novelty of exploring a different partner, or by your felicitous wonderment that a certain person of the other gender finds you acceptable as a sex partner, or by your partner being so readily able to achieve sexual climax that you are flattered that you are an exciting operator and so are inspired to even greater feats of excitability and performance. As thrilling and satisfying as such natural physical couplings may be, the great number of people who get married solely on the basis of sexual compatibility, or the promise of it, usually soon regret their subordination to Nature’s tender trap and eventually wake up to find themselves wed to a person with whom they have little in common to sustain a meaningful, lasting association.


Another class of sexual activity is seen in the person who mainly finds abnormal sexual excitement in dirty or pornographic aspects of the genitals and personality abasement, which is usually a response based on his or her psychologically buried, violent anger. Often the person is rebelling against the “nice” persons of the other gender by performing sexual acts in aggressive or vilely contemptuous ways against himself and “bad” persons of the same or opposite gender. These liaisons usually do not result in long-range associations or marriage.


In romantic relationships, on the other hand, what you seek from the other person is a more joyful experience of that which is really you as an Ego. That person’s effect on you is such that your awareness of the marvelous human potential within you is heightened, and feelings which are usually not stirred by your routine activities come to the forefront and become alive. But these intensified awarenesses spring from your own internal thought processes and really are not caused by the other person. It is characteristic of a romantic person to idealize a partner or partners. Indeed, the person who is in love with all aspects of life has idealized his environment and may also be in perpetual awe of the marvels of the Universe. That person generally feels truly alive and is charged with enthusiasm, and he may be able to sustain active devotion to Christ and God. Wherever he goes, he puts his attention on the beautiful aspects of and the goodness in everyone and everything.


The romantic relationship between a man and woman tends to involve your projection of what you like best in yourself upon your idealized partner. This idealization is essential to sustaining romance. It is not a fault but rather a requirement for a long and satisfying love affair. You are really saying (unconsciously), “You are me, and I love me.” Around that person you are experiencing your own essence of humanness, worthiness, and divine beauty because you have externalized your identification with such things upon that other person. You simply cannot imagine characteristics higher in your mirror-partner than your finest aspirations and knowledge of virtue. Evidently, sexual stimulation due to contemplation of a prospective partner’s physical attractiveness, admirable personality, and outward classiness elicits pleasurable psychological and physiological responses which set the stage for opening yourself to further expansiveness of self-awareness. The lessening of your fear and reticence is wonderful and inspiring. The exhilarating experience of exploring a new partner (really a renewed exploration of one’s own nature in a fresh context) is so seductive and addicting to some persons that they habitually pursue new partners, and usually their relationships last for only about eighteen months on the average. All the internal, beneficial feelings which arise out of romantic love are what you are in love with, but, unfortunately, you are conditioned by the mythic customs of our society to attribute the cause of your love to the other person (reinforced by every love song) rather than recognizing that what you love is yourself around the person to whom you have assigned idealistic characteristics. Thus, you deprive yourself of the possibility of owning and being responsible for your own experience of love.


When you give another person power over your sense of well-being, it can only lead to the eventual deterioration of your well-being; for if you ascribe your experience of your own true nature to the presence of someone else, you will end up needing that person. This leads to needful attachments and to the desire to have control over the other person who is the “source” of the beauty, fulfillment, and excitement in your life. Your focus is thus misplaced, and fear of loss produces misery instead of expansiveness. The tighter you try to control the other person, the more the other person (if healthy minded) is alienated and seeks to flee.


Once you discover that love manifests through channels within yourself, you need never be without it. But that is a difficult trick of counter-conditioning the belief structures instilled by our culture and is usually accomplished fully only by mystics. The fact remains that you need not be dependent upon others whom you could never really control anyway. Jesus and other advanced Egos are thus remarkably self-contained. It is inherent within us that we need never be threatened by the withdrawal of someone’s nearness or by the absence of their intimate attentions.


Most people’s relationships are built on need. Such people feel they can’t make it without the other person. But demands based on dependency and weakness are suppressive and binding rather than supportive of individual growth and freedom, and, naturally, persons upon whom such demands are placed are threatened by them. Relationships based on need deteriorate into contests over whom has most control of the other partner in order to manipulate the source of the satisfaction of needs. Then the old battle of the sexes is activated to control and maintain the partnership even though it means killing all joy and suspending the adventure in their life. The time-honored manipulative routines include child-like dependencies; being sick; not letting the other person make it with you; having children in order to bind the relationship; invoking guilt and shame. In short, madness-engendering entrapments. People who have not learned to support their own sense of well-being certainly cannot be supportive of a partner who likely suffers a similar deficiency. If each partner has developed his or her personality to only a fraction of wholeness, then the product of their coupling must be less than what they individually started out with. Their mutual demands and interlocking dependencies diminish each other. However, society has traditionally been concerned with the economics of marriage and the role of a family in providing for children. Only recently have we begun to recognize the legitimate need for psychological health and spiritual fulfillment in all members of the populace; and so “new” criteria for man/woman relationship are being developed to better assure truly healthy marriages and happy children being reared within the ideal climate of those marriages.


The real aim of any relationship is for both the principles to experience love and Egoic advancement. Each partner is entitled to a creative environment in which his own adventure of life is encouraged. Everyone wants to experience himself as a loving, capable, worthy human being; and if a relationship is to work, both partners must commit themselves to supporting the well-being and spiritual growth of each other and stick to it. You want the opportunity of working together to make a contribution which is of joyful service to yourself, your children, other people, and the world. It is what every person hungers to do, and the Brotherhoods provide a ready framework to make it easier to accomplish. In every human relationship, you should aim to support each other through companionship and a shared passion for the experiences of life and love. This also implies a sense of humor regarding the lessons each has to learn and the foolishness each has to recognize and outgrow. Once such a commitment is made and acknowledged, the relationship will survive anything. Love is not gazing into each other’s eyes; it is being together, gazing out at the world.


Living a lifetime is largely experimental, and you, like everyone else, need room and time to find what is best for you. Having a relationship with someone is experimental, and the only way to learn how it will turn out is to pursue it. Unfortunately, most people couple into a union with the attitude that two people can protect themselves against life better than one, but that inward-turning attitude works against Egoic growth. If the relationship is not contributing to each partner’s expansion beyond the limits of your own individual reality, then it is not a creative relationship for you. If there we certain lessons that you have to learn, which the other partner is not in a position to support you in learning, you need to be free to go outside the relationship to where you will get that support. What do you value most: courage to take affirmative actions toward creative soul growth, or obedience to demands by others? An equitable balance must be arrived at between those two tensors. Moreover, there needs to be some spaces in your togetherness. If you are totally in union, you can’t experience one another for the mergence of self in the union. There needs to be separation in the unity so that ever-refreshing uniqueness of individuality is kept alive.


Mature love is the experiencing of somebody’s essence and his special expression of it while not allowing him to submerge the beauty of his real self. Having mature love is being so self-assured that you are concerned with another person’s relationship with his own life rather than with his relationship to your life. You can appreciate his acquisition of mature love knowing that since his relationship with himself works, his relationship with you will work automatically. If your own life isn’t working, then your relationship with another person isn’t going to work either. The person who is free of dependencies upon others and who is balanced and complete is in fundamental harmony with every other person whose life has turned out in a happy understanding of what love is like.


The empathetic unity that naturally exists between loving, lovable people allows them to move appropriately and graciously through life. When you are with a group of people who are able to be themselves unpretentiously and who are not preoccupied with their status or with having facades which they have to try to keep from being seen through, they convey an atmosphere of well-being and loving acceptance and surrender (to surrender is to give up power over). People who are okay within themselves are always comfortable to be with. Separation and conflict is absent in them, and what comes across is a sense of fullness, joy, and serenity—a celebration of love which is beyond need for attachment. Such people convey the power of love that emanates from God, for that power flows through them unimpeded. You can sense it, and you know they are so complete with themselves that they accept you without being threatened by who or what you are. They need never say, “I love you,” since you already know it implicitly.


Lest there seems to be an implication here that persons who are capable of mature love eschew sexual intercourse, they are usually very active sexually and seem to have no problem attracting appropriate partners. But theirs is not a compulsive grab for goodies, but rather a decisional intention to enjoy the fullness of life and the blessings of a close union with another beautiful human being. Healthy sex is regarded as very valuable to them for their spiritual balance and as an aid toward intense closeness with their loved one. People who have healthy and mature sexual relationships do not place demands upon their partners which lessen them. Mature people are open and forthright in stating their expectations of one another in their relationships. They arrive at clear agreements and operate honestly within those agreements.


Very few people can ask for what they want of another person in an open fashion without feeling guilty. If you operate on the premise that it is rude to ask, you may wait a lifetime and never get the things you want and have the right to enjoy. People seem to operate on the belief that if our partners really loved us, they would know what we wanted and give it without our having to ask. This is a crazy violation of communication. An individual who hasn’t yet figured out what he wants, frequently expects the partner to know what it should be and supply it. Maturity can be judged by the extent to which a person knows what he wants, is able to communicate those wants clearly, and is able to induce people to be delighted to supply them because they have learned that they will gain as much in return from him.


It is not necessary that you pursue a one-on-one relationship with a person of the opposite sex just because you find you are mutually attracted and are both able to love. You need only to state your recognition of mutual compatibility, if you like, and know that the other person is out there impinging favorably upon your environment. More often than not, there are other, prior relationships or agreements which make such liaisons inappropriate; but we often are afraid to state our love since that seems to safely assure that an inconvenient or uncomfortable sexual involvement won’t arise. But sex and love are two entirely separate things even though they are naturally expressed in mutual reinforcement of one another.


Being in a constant state of love is the natural human condition, but our patriarchal culture has made love a rarity in the face of the aggression, fear, conflict, and hatred spawned by our sick religions and our possession-oriented values. We have not been discussing some form of egocentric narcissism when we speak of self-love. One’s extension to other persons of the best he perceives within himself is a fine aspect of one’s mental health and sociocentricity.