Trials of dating, self-awareness, autism

I’ve been in a strange place lately. Despite intending to make my life more simple, I’ve ended up making it far more complicated. I’ve been dating someone and the first two dates seemed to go really well – he’s kind, caring, spiritually minded, accepting of my illness – but the third date fell rather flat. I no longer felt attracted to him. And it’s left me wondering whether it’s me and I’m incapable of investing in anyone on a consistent basis. I’ve had fairly few relationships in my life and the ones I have had lacked emotional connection due to my upbringing. I have spent years working on myself emotionally and spiritually and have also been on my own a long while. All this leads me to wonder whether I’m too introverted and self-aware to enjoy someone’s company for any length of time. That the problem isn’t the guy, or indeed any guy I’ve dated in the past, but with me.

I know the advice generally goes: be happy with/love yourself. And I get that, I truly do. I have lived alone for a very long time (17 years in fact, a long time for someone in my early 40’s) and my last relationship was 7 years ago. I still hold the notion that it’s possible to experience spiritual loneliness where you crave companionship whilst feeling happy with yourself. I suppose I just don’t know what I’m actually looking for because no one is going to want to talk spirituality 24/7 and I become bored with everyday conversation. And yet, how can I ever engage with someone if I don’t meet them where they are?

I actually wonder if I’m on the autism spectrum as well. This is a legit question because my son is severely autistic and my dad and uncle both exhibited traits. It would explain a lot; my social anxiety, my difficulties talking unless I really HAVE to or if it’s about something deep, my introversion, my high sensitivity and tendency towards over stimulation. None of those things alone would mean much, but together with my family history they point to a very real possibility of autism and it would explain why I feel such an outsider in more ways than one. But if that’s the case, how will I ever know what I truly want? Because I do get lonely sometimes. And I miss physical intimacy. Casual meet ups are not an option for me due to my illness and other factors. So I just don’t know what the answer is.

I’m probably going to meet up with the guy again because I don’t think three dates is enough to decide whether a relationship is right. But I’m mindful of hurting his feelings too. Other people seem to be clear what they know and feel and want. Despite my self-awareness, I don’t think I am. Maybe the world of relationships is just too alien to me.

Birthday blessings and realisations

Last Friday was my birthday which is a day that has historically been a source of sadness, longing and other painful emotions, as well as gratitude for the people who cared and wanted to spend some of the day with me. This year is the first where I have experienced no painful emotions at all, only happiness and gratitude for those many people who thought of me and made it special by sending cards, gifts or, in the case of one good friend, met up with me despite having no money! I am so grateful for them all.

I am also more aware than ever that that day merely marks the incarnation of me in this particular lifetime and I am so much more than that. It doesn’t mean diminishing the importance of my birthday to the part of me who needs it, but remembering it is only one facet of my existence. My soul exists beyond this lifetime: it is part of the Divine and thus has always existed and always will exist. This life, this personality, my experiences in this lifetime, are one colour in a spectrum of many. When I lose sight of this for too long and attach to my personal history as being the totality of who I am, I will suffer. When I embrace my history as part of my soul’s many journeys through many lifetimes, I am free.

This said, my birthday has enabled me to take stock of this lifetime and what wish to experience (within the bounds of what is possible). I’ve decided to join the dating scene again for the first time since before the pandemic and put myself out there, even though it terrifies me. I still fear rejection on an emotional level, despite all I know spiritually. This is because my inner child still longs to belong and be accepted, as much as I am working on accepting myself and belonging to my own sense of being. I have enough self awareness to give myself to a relationship without becoming enmeshed or wanting to back away. At least, that is the hope. I’m an HSP and empath, so relationships have historically been hard, leaving me needing to back away to get some space. Maybe I will find someone who functions on a similar wavelength so we understand each other. That is my birthday message to the Universe: I will experience a healthy, connected, loving relationship where we both understand the wholeness of love that is in our hearts and share it freely. So be it.

Falling ‘in love’

But what about the condensed and very intense experience of falling in love with another person? What does this mean in context with perfect universal love? As I’m experiencing something akin to this at the moment, I’ll share my thoughts with you.

Every so often, or several times over a lifetime if you’re lucky, you meet someone, regardless of label, who lights a spark in you. Hence the saying goes ‘sparks fly’ or ‘they have so much chemistry.’ There are many psychological processes that probably go into this, too many to mention here, but suffice to say, our relationships with primary caregivers, previous partners, buried emotions and personality traits influence who we are drawn to and find attractive. There might also be spiritual influences such as karma, past lives, soul mates and destiny. We can only guess.

For whatever reason, you meet someone and maybe instantly or maybe over many months or years, you find yourself falling deeply in love until pretty much all you can think about is that person. You love everything about them, even their flaws, even when you get frustrated or irritated sometimes. You share a connection that is so intensely powerful that it’s like a drug – you can’t get enough of it. In fact, science has proven that falling in love IS a drug; it has the same effect on the brain. You are bonded to that person, you miss them desperately when they are not there, you fear that something will happen to take them away from you.

Recently I wrote about love being the only answer, including when we’re struggling with aspects of ourselves and other people or situations that we truly cannot love or accept. Love is the key to being at peace with life and connecting with all of creation in all its glory and suffering. Darkness disappears when the light of love shines on it. Each of us are created from and embody this perfect love, even though we often feel and act in less than perfect ways. Part of being human is trusting the light is there even when all we see and feel is darkness.

Is there anything wrong with this? Of course not. And yet, like most human experiences, it has a flip side that we all know about: it can hurt like heck. It can turn us into wounded, jealous, possessive, desperate versions of ourselves. Unrequited love and loss in whatever forms are some of the most painful human experiences.

Despite following spiritual teachings for many years, I have had such an experience recently that reminded me that I’m certainly not immune to the process of falling in love and the wonderful agony it can bring. It had made me question whether falling in love is somehow ‘unspiritual’ because it focuses on one person rather than universal love for all. Now I know that it isn’t, it’s purely another experience, but with any experience on this plane, it helps to be mindful of what’s actually going on and seek to understand it. In my case, I’ve been looking at falling in love from a spiritual perspective.

 Then I found this quote:

‘Falling in love is actually a powerful experience of feeling the universe move through you. The other person has become a channel for you, a catalyst that triggers you to open up to the love, beauty and compassion within – Shakti Gawain

When we fall in love, at least to begin with, it’s all about the other person; what we see in them, often what we need from them (until we learn to feel whole: see my post on Wholeness), what we admire about them. We may place them on a pedestal and think they are God’s gift to us; which actually, they are, just not in the way we might think. Every relationship is a mirror which is showing us our very selves; our good qualities, our not so good qualities, our potential, our buried hurts, what we wish we could be. We may not be able to see those things in ourselves so we are deeply attracted to someone who possesses them or reminds us of the qualities in a loved parent or partner. We are existing in a state of love, of being ‘in’ love, since the process of falling in love can show what we carry inside ourselves, that which is revealed through our longing for connection and unity with another person. It can remind us that we have the capacity to connect to universal love within, our Divine spark which is currently activated through the other person.

A healthy adult relationship is born when two people grow together in love. The other person may still, if we’re lucky, light our fire, but they are aware of the love that exists within, their own spark of Divinity, and seek to share it with each other without trying to possess or turn into the other. They will still admire qualities in each other but without unknowingly projecting their own sense of unworthiness onto the other. Getting to this stage can take a great deal of inner work because a lot of people search for relationships to heal the emptiness in their souls, which is natural until we learn what is really going on.

In short, falling in love, and the bond that follows, is a powerful experience which is reminding us that love exists within us when we tap into it and remember who we are.