Contrary to the popular notion that “love conquers all,” spiritual teacher Teal Swan cautions hopeless romantics that “love is not enough” to create harmonious relationships:
When people ask whether “love” is enough to make relationships work, they don’t mean “love” in the big sense of the word, Swan says. They mean the feeling of being “in love” – romantic love.
Love – from a higher perspective – is a state of oneness, Swan says. It “has no need to attach to someone to form a singular relationship, because it does not recognize a separation. When a separation is recognized what we get is this thing we call falling in love” – or a state of intense attraction to someone.
Swan says each of us has a unique subconscious definition of love formed by our childhood associations with the word. If that definition included disappointment, betrayal and loneliness, we will attract someone who makes us feel that way again.
To be attracted to someone like a magnet, there must be polarity, Swan says. If polarity exists, it means an individual is not in a state of wholeness – an aspect of him or herself must be rejected, suppressed, denied or disowned.
The parts of ourselves we reject, suppress, deny or disown are those that our families and caregivers disapproved of when we were children. We do everything we can to exaggerate the aspects that were approved of, while dissociating from what wasn’t approved of – our first act of self-rejection, and the birth of attraction, Swan says.
“In order to become whole, we must reunite with the missing parts of ourselves” – our shadow selves. “So we fall in love with someone who represents the parts we’ve lost,” she says.
When we see positive attributes in other people that were denied in ourselves, it causes us to fall in love, but it also causes pain, because it’s a reminder of what we don’t have.
“We want more of it. We become addicted to it,” Swan says. And this causes us to enter relationships out of a place of need rather than desire.
“Need is that starved feeling of desperately having to have something born from a place of lack,” she says. “True desire does not come from a place of lack, so it doesn’t cause the kind of pain that need does.”
Simply put, desire is something we want. Need is something we think we’re going to die without.
Conscious compatibility vs. subconscious attraction
To add another level of complexity, our subconscious selves have different needs in a relationship than our conscious selves. It is typically our subconscious needs – manifesting themselves through intense attraction – that determine whom we end up with.
When we have a high degree of subconscious attraction and very little conscious attraction, it’s a recipe for perpetual conflict. This is because intense attraction has far more to do with our wounds than it does with love.
“We are like a starving person compelled by an inner void,” Swan says.
By following that attraction, we may be taking a step in the direction of expansion, but we are also taking a step in the direction of pain.
This is not to say you should fear the feeling of intense attraction, Swan says. It’s to say whenever you feel it, be aware that your subconscious mind is at work trying to get its needs met.
“When we say things like ‘it just feels right or ‘we have great chemistry,’ it means we are polarized” and are facing our shadows, Swan says.
It is possible to have both conscious and subconscious attraction to a person, as long as we remain aware.
If we choose our partners based on our conscious needs, we are making a lifestyle choice, rather than being guided by internal compulsion. “It may sound less romantic, but anyone who’s experienced the peaceful embrace of this kind of love will tell you how amazing it really is,” Swan says.
It’s not wrong to jump head over heals into a relationship based solely on attraction. “Nothing will mirror your unconscious to you larger, and thus cause you to become more conscious faster. But great expansion involves great contrast.”
“When we are swept up in the intensity and chemistry of that powerful attraction, we have the tendency to ignore red flags … Once the attraction fades, we are floored,” Swan says.
To determine whether you could be compatible with someone long-term, ask yourself what would be left between the two of you if there were no sexual attraction, she adds. “People don’t break up or divorce because they don’t love each other. They break up because they either aren’t consciously compatible or aren’t consciously committed.”
In conclusion, Swan says, if you want rapid expansion, to become self-actualized as fast as you can, jump on those feelings of attraction without thinking twice. If you want a relationship that is a harmonious, tranquil place of peaceful union, don’t act on those feelings of intense attraction without first involving your rational mind. Enduring love requires conscious compatibility and commitment.
So the answer to the question “is love enough” is yes and no, depending on what you’re looking for 😉