Are you — all of you — really present with your partner(s), or is your ego getting in the way?
I have what I believe is the most successful and fulfilling relationship to date, and I can’t take any credit for it.
Self-deprecating? Nope. My mention of ‘I’ is actually in reference to the ego; the ‘I’ that will never be ‘we.’ The ‘I’ that cannot celebrate ‘our.’
What is the ego?
According to Sigmund Freud’s model of the mind, the ego makes up one of three structures in our personalities: the id, the ego, and the superego. While the term ego has different meanings, I am using it here to mean a false sense of self.
As human beings, we are so attached to our egos that we genuinely believe that we are as we believe we are. While this is not inherently wrong and certainly not unique, heavy attachment to a constructed sense of self leaves little room for a true presence of being.
I believe that you cannot create a true sexual/physical and spiritual bond with your partner(s) without being fully present. However, what does that actually mean and why is it important in your relationship?
What does it mean to be fully present?
My exploration into presence — as it relates to relationships — began with reading The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle. This book is described as ‘a guide to spiritual enlightenment’ and boy, is it mind- (and ego!) blowing. While this is totally my jam, I understand that not everyone gets off on spiritual discussions so I will spare you the gratuitous teachings. However, there are a couple of key points that I feel can be useful to anyone in a relationship, regardless of where you are in your spiritual journey.
The first is to understand that when you are caught up in your own thoughts, you are not actually present. Thoughts can take the shape of worries, obsessions, compulsions, anxiety and even positive things like ambitions and goals. This narrative is created and perpetuated by your ego; it keeps you ‘stuck’ in thought patterns as a means to keep itself alive. Eckhart Tolle describes this as ‘identification of the mind.’
Wild, huh? The problem is that this fills you with so much ‘mental noise’ that you can sometimes fail to acknowledge anything else around you, like your partner’s needs, dreams, and desires. It also robs you of gratitude and the ability to be in the present moment. Tolle states, “To the ego, the present moment hardly exists. It is always concerned with keeping the past alive. … It constantly projects itself into the future to (seek) fulfillment there.”
Have you ever been on a date with your lover(s) surrounded by a beautiful environment, and all you can concentrate on is your bad day at work? Or pending deadlines? Or a far-off concern that hasn’t even happened yet? Your physical body might be right in front of your partner, but your spirit is far away. The most challenging but most important step is first to recognize that ‘you are not your mind.’
The second key point is to try and view relationships as a communion of being; a ‘oneness’ between yourself and your partner. Instead of considering your time together as two separate ‘I’s, imagine a combined wholeness that your respective energies create. In order to (try and) achieve this, one needs to recognize that the superpowers of the superego can sometimes act as a third wheel. Ditch that sucker from time to time.
How can you detach from your ego?
There are exercises that can help you to disengage from your ego, such as breathing, meditation, and body scanning. This will bring you into the present moment — the only moment we actually have — called ‘The Now.’
Many of these exercises can be shared between a couple and any other relationship configuration. When you and your partner disengage simultaneously from your egos, it creates this sweet spot better known as when time stands still. There are many instances where I can recall being ‘lost in the moment’ with my partner, and all of them involved a higher state of consciousness.
There are some fun ways to achieve this type of presence, whether as part of a ‘date night’ or everyday chilling out:
- Create a no-phone zone. This could be limited to a particular day of the week (mine is Saturday) or to a room in your space or between certain hours of the day, etc. The point is to remove distractions and engage sans technology.
- Do a guided meditation together.
- Go to an amusement park; thrills keep our minds in the moment, and adrenaline causes feelings of physical and sexual arousal.
- Try a brand new activity that neither of you has done, possibly outside of a familiar area. Often, this is what we do on vacation, but simpler and less expensive versions can still achieve the same effect.
For example, my love and I had never visited a float spa and decided to travel to the other end of the city to try it out.
That experience a) got us out of our familiar neighborhood and b) provided us with a glorious hour of tranquility. Not every new encounter needs to check off multiple boxes, but thinking outside of the box can create a beautiful bond that gets us out of ourselves and connects us with the ‘we.’
The most precious relationship moments are the ones we sometimes take for granted; those are what create ‘our’ time. When I make peace with myself and my mind, ‘we’ become stronger, more connected, and whole.