Romance, Compatibility & Love

Steve McQueen at Esalen.

Steve McQueen at Esalen.

I've spent a lot of time pondering the ingredients that make up a healthy partnership. These are three areas that get muddy and confused--and why shouldn't they? Relationships are messy. I thought I'd take some time to tease apart what I believe the differences are between romance, compatibility, and love.



What are the first things that come to mind when you hear the word "romance"? Flowers, chocolate, hot sex, making each other breakfast in the morning; romantic comedy stuff. Once the new relationship high wears off, it might look a little different: taking out the trash without being asked, pulling the dead possum out from underneath the house when it starts to smell (true story), or maybe picking up pizza when you're too lazy to cook. I think of romance as acts of appreciation and devotion that serve and nurture your relationship. In a sense, romance is one of the ways we communicate love. Romance is demonstrative. When you perform a romantic gesture, you're probably saying something like, 'hey! i love you and i recognize your presence as a gift in my life! thank you for being here'. In this sense, romance is form of intimacy. When your partner truly understands you, a romantic gesture doesn't just feel good, it feels like you are being recognized as who you are. It's important to understand yourself first and what romance means to you before expecting someone else to do it. 


I really like this one and I think it's often overshadowed by L O V E . Compatibility is more black and white, in my opinion. It's the way the puzzle pieces of your being fit with another being. Do you love a minimalist zen aesthetic and your partner is a hoarder? Do you both want or not want children? Are you politically/morally/financially/spiritually aligned? Are you okay with being in an open relationship or not? Are you sexually compatible (important!)? These are big questions to ask, and it's necessary to know where you stand first before starting a conversation with your partner. In a lot of cases, these are the "deal breakers". Those things that we can't or don't want to see through the veil of oxytocin in those first six months, only to be hit over the head when we start to get real. Compatibility matters in a long-term relationships. It's like building the foundation of your house. It creates communication and boundaries, which create trust and safety. In my experience, there is less compromise when it comes to compatibility, especially as you get older. Not that you want to be the same person at all! In fact tension here can create a symbiotic polarity, which is important for maintaining magnetism in your relationship (more on that later). The idea is that you are compatible within your differences. There should be space for both people to grow, thrive, and support each other's unique interests and selves.


How to even start talking about love? We all have a connection to Love--it is our nature, it's why we're here. Love is so much deeper and diverse than I could ever describe in a short blog post (see Rumi, Lalla, or Kabir for that). Romantic love, as I know it, is a gateway. At it's best, it opens us up to understanding Universal Love. If we stop at romantic love, which is relative, we get caught in the pain of attachment, suffering, ego disappointment. We feel like we never have enough and start mutually cannibalizing each other for more. We get caught in feeding the part of us that is impermanent, rather than understanding the divine endlessness of the soul. When we can use romantic love and a doorway, we start to develop ourselves in the direction of "Love with a capital L". We begin to meet each other as souls. We start to see the holiness in every being as a manifestation of this love. For me, romantic love is a spiritual practice. Hopefully, through loving another person, we begin to understand love between all souls.

By bringing awareness to these three aspects--romance, compatibility, and love--we start to understand what ratio of these is most valuable to us in relationships. We deepen our intimacy with ourselves and others by understanding our tendencies, non-negotiable needs, and values.



Falling in love you remain a child; rising in love you mature. By and by love becomes not a relationship, it becomes a state of your being. Not that you are in love - now you are love.  | Osho



I'm mostly speaking to monogamous long-term relationships, but totally in support of all kinds of connections!  If you would like to refine your relationships, romantic or otherwise, please connect with me over a private session!