Friday, September 16, 2011

Is it possible to have an intimate relationship that is joyful?

I haven't written for a while, because I seem to be going through my own process. I no longer seem to have answers, as much as I have questions. Usually my questions revolve around money and life purpose. But the last few days, to my surprise, my question is about relationships between men and women. Is it possible to have a committed sexual relationship that does not cause suffering, but instead is joyful and supports spiritual growth?

That seems to be my question these days, because it has become clear to me that I have never had a joyful intimate relationship with a man--except perhaps for the first couple of months. No matter who the man is, my issues of abandonment always come up, which then cause him to shut down and leave. That's my painful pattern which has repeated over and over again. I have friends who have other painful patterns: they get abused, or they get suffocated from attention. I so can't imagine that. I just get ignored, never making it on his priority list.

Whatever our relationship pattern is, it is calling us to heal. I get it. So I have worked on issues I've had with my father not having any time for me or with God abandoning me. It seems to be the same issue. And still, I find myself involved with men who profess to love me, if and when they remember that I exist. Recently many of my illusions have dropped away and I'm clear that this non-existent relationship is not a partnership.

If the kind of partnership exists that is loving, supportive, and joyful, I would really like to be in one. If, on the other hand, all sexual relationships are about painful ways to learn lessons, then I'm done. I'm too old and no longer hormone-driven to suffer in order to be with a man. The Course in Miracles talks about such "special" relationships being based on hate rather than love. I have seen how easily love turns to hate, so I believe this. The only hope that the Course offers is that these special relationships can turn into holy relationships, which support our finding our way Home.

I'd love to hear from others, as I truly do not know the answer to this question. Is there such a thing as a committed sexual relationship which is joyful and supports truth?


Shandi said...

Being in a relationship of any kind,intimate or not, means bringing together beings of different worlds,in a way.

We each have our unresolved childhood "wounds" that block us from a full experience of intimacy. (Sexual or not)

We have the unquestioned decisions that we made as children, that don't serve us very well now.

We bring our unrealistic expectations, and our own perceptions of what love means to

Our insecurities, fears, negativity, needs, conditioning all
play a role in the bumpy road of

We all know couples who've been
together for 50 or 60 years, and
wonder how they do it. It wasn't all joyful, but they each had reasons to stay rather than go.

I remember attending a class in
relationships, and we were asked to
make a list of all the things that
we want in a partner. It was an
easy exercise. Then she told us to
make a list of all the things that
we bring to a relationship. That
was a shorter list, and much harder
to do.

Knowing who we are and what we offer is as important as knowing
about the other person.

I married my best friend; we'd known each other since 7th grade.
We didn't have romantic feelings
until we were about 16. So we had
a long friendship to build on.

Our 19 year marriage was mostly
peaceful, not always joyful. We
did argue, but never name called or
fought physically. I loved him,
and because of my own insecurites,
it took awhile to believe that he
loved me.

He was very supportive of anything
I wanted to do, and I owe a lot to
him for who I am today.

As time went on, I was going through changes from being a
conservative person to a liberal
one. He wasn't interested in making a shift of values.

That was the beginning of the end
of my marriage. Values are the
glue that binds. His insecurities
drew him to the material world of
accummulating to prove himself.

I was not called to that life. I
knew I wanted something more, and
felt that I had a contribution to
make. I didn't think that being
a wife and mother was all I could do.

I've never experienced a better
relationship than the one I had with him. As I look back, maybe
since we were young friends, and
got married before we had too much
baggage and expectations, it
sustained us for quite awhile.

We have two wonderful sons, and
memories of joyful times as a family.

As we get older, I think it becomes more difficult to develop our ideal
intimate relationship. Our wounds
get in the way, and unless both people have evolved prior to coming together, and are committed to
the work involved in sustaining
a desired intimacy, it wont last
very long.

Some can do it, but most cannot.
The longing is there, but it's just
not enough.

We must love ourselves as we would
have another love us. Until our
relationship with ourselves is
joyful, how can it be with another?

Despina Gurlides said...

Thank you, Shandi, for your comments. I really appreciate them. How can I have a joyful relationship with another, if I don't have one with myself? Good question. More and more, I am having a joyful relationship with myself. I'll keep working on that :-)

POPI said...


Shandi said everything very eloquently and all of it makes sense.

Me, answer to your question. NO. It does not exist on a permanent basis. Here and there, may be. No explanation, it is, what it is. Grab what you can. Do not bring ANY expectations in any relationship. Let it unfold and soon you will know, whether you want to be in it, thorns and all, or stay away from it all together.

Shandi said...

I've been reading Russ Volckmann's
interview with Barbara Marx Hubbard,
and would like to share something from it.

"Everyone who's evolving in consciousness, and who isn't in dire straits of hunger or war begins to have an impulse to create - to express their own selves - not
simply in a mystical way, but in a
way of self expression, life purpose, greater meaning than a
meaningless job or relationship.

Maslow discovered that every
"joyful" person had one thing in
common...chosen work that they found intrinsically self rewarding.

I know how this feels. I had a
business in Hawaii, and looked
forward to every day.

I was asked this question by an advisor from SBA: "Why do you get
up in the morning?" My answer
"To create"!

He said "oh, your answer should be,
"To make money"

I felt successful, not by the amount of money I produced, but by
the "joy" I experienced most of the time in my work.

The best part of this story is that
I resisted going into business for
myself because of beliefs I had.

An (angel) man who didn't even know
me that well, gently prodded me into it, and gave me some fundamental support (not money) to
take the leap.

He moved from the island before he
ever knew the positive impact he'd
had on my life. I can't remember his name, but I do know that he
was GREEK.

I think if you have joy in your
chosen work or service, you'll
attract other joyful beings.

I agree with Popi's last response.
This is a gift of wisdom that she's
sharing. Take it to heart.

Despina Gurlides said...

Frankly, I find these answers around relationship depressing.I get that you're not suppose to bring any expectations to a relationship. Good luck! I also get that doing work that you enjoy will make you joyful. I'm not there yet. So the question is, are there relationships where the thorns don't make it impossible to enjoy the rose?

Shandi said...

We all have some basic expectations of a relationship, but many have
unrealistic expectations. That gets us into trouble.

The needier we are of another, the
less we will get.

Consider you are looking or open to
having a relationship, and you meet
yourself. What do think? Are you
attracted? What is it about you
that is so appealing? Apart from
the physical beauty.

After a few dates, what is it that
makes you want to spend more time
with you? What are those qualities
that you cherish? What are the
values you stand for? What are you
willing to take a stand for?

How important is it for you to
find your purpose...your joy?

What do you bring to the table of
relationship? What are your hopes,
your dreams, desires?

What is it about intimate relationship that you believe?
Has this been your experience, or
is it still a fantasy?

Can you honestly look at your
expectations? What would you want
your partner to expect of you?

Thinking that relationship will
bring you joy that you haven't
been able to create yourself, is
pretty unrealistic.

Having a relationship with another
is by nature "higher maintainance"
than having one with yourself.

Being seen by another in intimacy
can bring up all kinds of stuff
that is easily avoided when alone.

Fear of abandonment may create a
situation where we get out before
it happens, or we imagine it's
happening, or it is actually

As you've said before, we all have
patterns that need to be looked at.
Some may be so imbedded that we're
unable to release them.

That's depressing....

Shandi said...

Enjoy the rose while you can, and
remember to watch the thorns.

We are all roses.

poohbear said...

It is really so simple, people..... just treat your love one the way you wish they treat you, what ever that is.

stupid simple... throw all the self help books out.

poohbear said...

people it is really simple just treat your loved one the way you wish to be treated.... stupid simple.

throw your self help books out.

Shandi said...

I agree with poohbear, as a way to live, in general, and especially with an intimate partner.

Although it seems "simple", if we get triggered by unresolved patterns, we "re-act" from fear (usually)or insecurity.

If we're in "reaction", we're not in tune with our kinder, wiser selves.
We've all been there, and later on when the emotion of the moment has passed, we wish we could have been
more loving.

In order to get beyond our reactions, sometimes it's helpful
to have guidance from someone who
can mirror our behavior, or read
"self-help" books.

Growing up in a dysfunctional family, I didn't see people treating others with kindness, but
something inside told me this created conflict and pain.

Hearing the "Golden Rule" made sense to me. But I know that I
was guided by my reading self help
books, as a way of becoming more
aware of my reactive patterns.

A question...what could be some of
the reasons that most people don't
live as Poohbear suggests?

Would Poohbear share some of her relationship(s)experience? Her age
group? Present relationship?
How long?

Recently this blog has become a
way to share more of the self, and
can benefit all of us.

Deb said...

With different choices, couldn’t the story of Adam and Eve have a Disney outcome? Let’s suppose Adam is the perfect man. He can laugh at himself and carry on a converse over dinner without all those boring details about work. He has a wallet and isn’t shy about taking it out. He is actually good at something, besides Fantasy Football. And he knows if he wants Eve to be his kitten, he has to make her purr. As I say, perfect. Meanwhile, Eve kills herself at the gym so she can still get into the right tight pants and pull on her confidence one leg at a time. Although she does have to hear it from Adam to believe it. Everything is perfect in the Garden Apartment.

Until one day, their happiness is tested by choice and desire.

Adam, sitting silently on the couch, appears to be contentedly reading the latest book on intimacy and fulfillment, when he puts down that copy of Eat, Sleep, Come unread to go test drive the new Fiat? Grinding the gears looking for reverse he starts asking himself: Why should we give up what feels good.

Eve meanwhile has yet another sports injury from her last session on the Elliptical and makes an appointment with that handsome orthopedist as soon as she gets home. Her heart flutters at the sound of his Tiger-receptionist who gives her the appointment for next Wednesday. As she clicks off her cell, the question comes to mind: Why should we give up what feels good.

But the real test doesn’t present itself until they find themselves at couple’s therapy.

How does the story end? In fact, this is where the real story starts.

After all, giving in to temptation never did bring expulsion from the garden. The end of paradise was written when Adam blames beauty and beauty blames the beast.

Shandi said...

I don't believe in perfection. Never met anyone who was perfect, although from outward appearances it may seem so.

But I do believe that the "blame"
game can ruin many potentially
loving relationships.

Blame is rampant in our society, and manifests in outrageous lawsuits where it's obvious "user error".

Personal responsibility isn't
nearly as attractive as "blame".

James said...

Hi Despina,

I don't know if you remember me, I'm Alexandra's boyfriend.

She sent this blog to me as she thought it would interest me, and it does.

I enjoyed reading everyone's comments, and I thought I would add my own since I am at this point in my relationship with Alexandra.

The short answer to your question is; yes. As Shandi wrote, many couples have spent decades in a loving and nurturing relationship. The question is how do you find the right person with whom to build such a relationship. I agree that the better emotional state and sense of self love that you have, the better your odds are, but it's important to remember that an intimate relationship may open wounds that you didn't know that you had, and may be different with each person.

Alexandra and I will celebrate our one year anniversary together next month. This year had exposed wounds for both of us, and on a couple of occasions put a strain on the relationship.

That said, we started this relationship committed to openness and honesty. We both believe in communication, and that support of the relationship has to be a major priority for both of us. That by no means makes the relationship easier, at least not in the beginning, but I think the relationship is easier now because of it, and without that, a relationship can split at the first sign of difficulty.

I think for those reasons our love for each other has grown deeper over the year. Those wounds are still there in us, but commitment to the relationship and communication has at least given us some tools for recognizing them, and dealing with them honestly and compassionately.

As an example, we both know that there will come a time when one of us will flood to some extent emotionally, so we had the discussion this last weekend about creating an agreement on dealing with these times. I can't tell you how well it will work yet, but I imagine it will be better than just winging it.

I guess my point is that my relationship with Alexandra is a mutually loving and supportive partnership, but it didn't just happen. The opportunities to walk away were there, but we chose instead to walk a path of love and understanding. While we can't make our wounds just disappear, we can lower their impact by being committed to each others healing.

Despina Gurlides said...

Dear James,
A male perspective! Thank you so much for your comment. I am so happy for you and Alexandra, that you have such a conscious relationship. Got any friends?

Shandi said...

It's great to hear from a man who
considers the importance of having a plan to deal with upsets in the
relationship, and who communicates
so well.

Alexandra is an evolved woman, with
experience at long term relationships,, and it seems she's attracted a man who may be closer to her level than others in the past.

And see how quickly Despina can go
from feeling depressed, to feeling

That's a better place to attract

Keep us in the loop if you do have
a "friend" that you can introduce
to Despina.

James said...

Thanks for the kind words and I will keep a lookout for any appropriate friends. ;-)