Originally posted March 15, 2015
“I believe in karma,” he said, his dark eyes resting on my pained face. “Because I had to go through you to find her.”
Nodding my head, I calmly replied, “I believe in karma too. Because I had to go through you to find me.”
I didn’t know it then, at the end of my first marriage, but with that statement, I had laid the foundation for what would come to be known as “evolutionary love.”
My life didn’t look very “evolved” at that moment. I was homeless with all my possessions stored in the basement of a Brooklyn church. I was in my seventh year in my battle with anorexia, which reflected my own starving eroticism. And I could barely get through teaching an hour of yoga without bursting into a river of never-ending tears.
I didn’t have language for it at the time, but as I sat in my room for hours begging God (or Spirit or nature or just my own damned will) to help me survive the shame, I knew something profoundly wise and beautiful was rising from the ashes of my agony—an agony that felt like death.
Because it was death. As frightening as it may sound, death is at the heart of evolutionary love because that’s what it means to evolve. We must muster the willingness to brave the fire of constant change so that new life can emerge.
In this sense, every relationship is an evolutionary one because it catapults us forward to the next leg of our soul’s journey. But when we begin to consciously work with this evolutionary dynamic, relationship becomes a sandbox for play and wonder, rather than something to which we unconsciously grasp out of fear of facing our inevitable aloneness.
So how does evolutionary love show up practically in our daily lives? If you asked that question of a thousand couples or multiples, you’d get 2,000+ different answers. However, in my exploration of love, partnerships and relating, as well as my personal experience with two marriages, I have stumbled upon some universal guidelines that may serve you on your path to evolutionary love.
1: It starts with YOU
Ask yourself the question, “Who am I?” Go deeper and ask, "What do I want?” Inquire even further and ask, “What values are important to me?” The more you get to know yourself, the better equipped you will be when it comes to evolutionary love. Far too often we throw ourselves at the first cute, semi-clean person that comes across our path, donning various masks in order to shape ourselves into the person we think our lovers want us to be. Or we cling to people, attempting to fill the void of our perceived unlovability. When we lose our personal center, we are incapable of showing up as our raw, beautiful selves in the relationship. But when you have done the work to know who you are and what you stand for, you are more likely to attract others who support your dreams, nurture your growth and honor the evolutionary power of love.
2: Throw away the script
We’ve all seen the movies and read the magazine headlines that reinforce the heteronormative, nuclear family: Boy meets girl, boy marries girl by age 25, girl pops out two kids by age 30, boy and girl and kids live in a suburban house for 20 years, boy (and sometimes girl) retires and lives off pension until boy and girl die. The end. But evolutionary love is not linear and certainly isn’t beholden to any predetermined script. Evolutionary love demands that we continue to explore our personal edges in service to growth, not only for ourselves, but also for our community. We may fall in love with someone whose gender identity or expression contradicts what society deems as “acceptable.” We may fall in love with multiple people. We may choose to live in a community home with many constellations of people. We may choose to live in separate houses or even separate cities from our partners. We may decide that marriage, partnership and/or having kids is not in alignment with our personal desires. Evolutionary love requires courage and may seem subversive to many. But when we honor our soul’s true path, we are creating a world where multiple expressions of love can grow, flourish and find acceptance. Thus, we inspire others to step out of the shadows of their own fear and claim the love that is their birthright.
3: Be committed to the RELATIONSHIP
In the story of partnership, 1+1 does not equal 2. It equals 3, with the potential for infinity. What that means is, in the case of one couple, there are 3 key players: partner #1, partner #2 and the relationship between the two. Add multiple partners to the mix and the web of relating could conceivably go on indefinitely, though most people have a practicality threshold keeping that number relatively low. In the case of evolutionary love, all partners must be committed to the relationship that wants to be created. This act of humility, surrender and responsibility sets the stage for a level of relating that goes beyond blame and creates space for all desires to arise and be seen. Yes, of course we must acknowledge individual personalities; however we must also recognize that neither person alone can create the epic magic that comes when one’s power alchemizes with his/her partner’s. As a personal example, I was recently angry with my husband—so much so that I had to leave the house and cry myself empty for two hours. At the end of feeling all that hurt, I asked myself the question, “Does the relationship last another day?” The answer was simply “Yes.” With my trust firmly rooted in the container of the relationship, coupled with the knowledge that my husband upheld the same value of commitment, I faced him with the truth of my feelings, sharing them in a way that contributed to the growth of our partnership.
4: Let go when the time comes
This guideline hearkens back to the previous statement that death is at the heart of evolutionary love. As difficult as that may be to integrate, think of all the relationships that ended poorly or were filled with constant strife and unnecessary drama. Much of the time, the problem was that the relationship did not evolve with the partners. Because we’ve been taught that a “successful” relationship is one where the partners stay together until one of them dies, people are slowly withering away in homeostatic relating, rather than braving the winds of change. Change doesn’t necessarily mean divorce or break-ups, but it does mean cultivating the willingness to consistently review our ever-evolving needs, desires and circumstances and dropping what is no longer serving the relationship. That may seem scary or difficult, like we are traveling without a map, but it’s also an exciting adventure and creates a relationship where every touch, kiss and caress is fresh and alive. In a recent article, Will Smith recently spoke about the multiple “deaths” of his marriage and the creative ways he and his wife evolved the relationship.
5: Champion the highest vision for your partner(s) and for your community
Being a champion for your partner(s) seems like a no-brainer in any relationship. Of course you want your partner to succeed in his or her dreams. But we often don’t act that way. Unspoken jealousies, fears and resentments creep into the relationship and we end up tearing down ourselves or our partners. This is where “starting with you” is crucial, because if you are sabotaging yourself, you often have the self-awareness to catch it and if someone is sabotaging you, you don’t stand for that crap. In all relating, your partner(s) act as a mirror, reflecting both the light and the shadow within. Evolutionary love recognizes this dynamic and consciously uses it for deep growth and transformation. Our relationships become spiritual paths, with our partners as our wisest teachers. Those practicing this model of relating often recognize that they don’t live in an isolated bubble, but are part of a vast network of people. They understand that through their love, they have the opportunity to inspire and uplift all within the community.
+1: Nurture your sex
I don’t call this +1 because it’s optional. I call it +1 because it is KEY to cultivating an evolutionary relationship. Most people say that the first thing to go in a long-term relationship is sex. It’s not because it isn’t important. It’s because it’s VERY important. We avoid sex because it’s one of the most highly-charged places in a relationship. Everything comes to the surface in our sexual lives, so when the resentments start to build, it’s easy to simply fall into the comfort of avoidance rather than to sit in the fire of transformation. DO NOT DO THIS. Keep coming back to sex. Keep learning from the orgasm that arises between you two (or three or more). Allow yourself to acknowledge all the places where you have been hiding and lying to your partner. And clear it. This keeps the wheels of the relationship greased and running smoothly, for if we can learn to communicate with clarity and compassion in sex, we can most likely do it anywhere.
The list above is by no means complete, definitive or even “right.” As I said earlier, evolutionary love has an infinite number of expressions. Ultimately, it’s what you make of it. Your desire is your guide and your imagination is the map.
I’ve had the great honor of witnessing several members of my community as they practice evolutionary love and teach us through their experience. My dear friend, Julia Maryanska, is currently raising funds for her film, Union: A Documentary About the Art of Love. The film follows 6 of these couples as they share their struggles, triumphs and unconventional wisdom on the path to evolutionary love. Interwoven within the stories are expressions of the couples’ love as told by the music of electronic artist, Nimitae, and the visionary art of Android Jones.
Click here to learn more and support this fantastic project---> https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/union-a-documentary-about-the-art-of-love