The Limitless Joy of Never Fully Knowing Your Significant Other


Here’s a way to experience unlimited joy, variety and spice in your relationship without “doing” anything…

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See the author’s TEDx Talk on Creating Extraordinary Intimacy in a Shut Down World

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Think about your most recent (or current) significant relationship. How long was it before you both could say that you really knew your mate inside and out? Chances are it didn’t take too long, a year, maybe two at most. Now consider the possibility that your extensive bundle of knowledge of and experience with this most important person in your life is only the tip of the iceberg. An iceberg whose other hidden 90% remains to be discovered as you go through life together. Fortunately, there is a simple way to keep each other in the thrill of delicious discovery whether you are together 5 months or 50 years. An ongoing adventure that makes it feel like you just met, every day of your lives…

The Surest Way to Kill the Thrill

Thanks to our survival instinct, we humans have a proclivity for labeling or putting into a box everything we encounter, including other people. The reason for this is fairly straightforward. It provides us with a perceived sense of certainty in a very uncertain (i.e. dangerous) world.

When your relationship slips into autopilot mode don’t be terribly surprised if it eventually crashes.

Consider when you meet someone for the first time. Chances are your label-making machine, otherwise known as your ego, goes into overdrive subconsciously naming and categorizing every aspect of that person. Their physical appearance, their personality, their habits, values and so on. And the more effort you put into getting to know that person, the more refined and nuanced these labels become. This process continues until at some point an internal switch flips signifying that you finally and sufficiently “know” this other being and no long need to be concerned about finding anything new about them. That is also the moment you have effectively cut yourself off from their unbounded nature and possibilities. And, the moment you and your partner are most at risk of spiraling into relationship-deadening routine.

“Knowing” other people this way is certainly convenient. Pretty much the same way as knowing your commute to work or knowing how to do a task you’ve mastered. It’s efficient, hardly takes any effort, frees you up for other things, and of course, it’s boring as hell. Another word for this is autopilot. When your relationship slips into autopilot mode don’t be terribly surprised if it eventually crashes.

The Key to Unlocking the Limitless in Each Other

This insight came to my partner and I quite by surprise. We’ve both been in previous relationships where every one of them eventually devolved into stultifying routine and lack of adventure. Now, we’ve been together for over three years. Plenty of time for things to become routine and “comfortable” in thinking we really know each other.

Ironically however, it seems nearly every day we are together we continue to discover new things about each other. And conversely, we find that our relationship provides a powerful space for each of us to continuously manifest and express aspects of ourselves that neither one of us even new existed.

Now, if any two people in a committed relationship can say they “know” each other it would be us –thanks to our unrelenting commitment for authenticity. Yet, almost without fail, during tender moments I look into her eyes and have this very strange (but wonderful) feeling that I barely know who this person is. Not in the sense that she is hiding things from me, but much more profoundly in that I’m only getting a glimpse of the infinitely vast expanse of who she really is. When it first started happening I found it frankly a bit unsettling. That’s probably because my ego really doesn’t like surprises, whether perceived to be good or bad. Interestingly, when I first mentioned this to her, she said she has the same experience about me.

So I started thinking about what’s going on here because it is unlike anything she or I have ever encountered before. Then it occurred to me that the key to this incredible (and continuing) phenomenon is the fact we are both extremely present for each other when together.

Many couples strive for familiarity because that provides a reassuring sense of perceived certainty.

Presence is the state of deep, still awareness that is free from labeling, judgement, expectations or needs. It is a place where a fundamental part of who we are (beyond the ego), the Observer, simply and dispassionately bears witness to the other. This creates a space for both of us to fully express who we really are, including aspects of ourselves that even we didn’t know were there. And it is within this space that the continued wondrous adventure we call our relationship unfolds in untold and unexpected ways.

Many couples strive for familiarity because that provides a reassuring sense of perceived certainty. As in: better the devil you know than the one you don’t. At first glance, inviting the uncertainty of new aspects of that most important person in your life can seem rather threatening. For example, what if something emerges in your mate that you don’t particularly like, or, indicating it is time to go your separate ways? That is always a possibility and that’s why it’s called an adventure. Anything else is just a guided tour. Just imagine for a moment how utterly freeing it is to fully embrace what unfolds rather than always being in fear of it. However, I personally deem any negative consequences as unlikely because that would only happen if I let my ego start labeling again.

A Context for a Lifetime of Adventure Together

If you consider for a moment that you are not your ego, that there is something infinitely greater and timeless that you each are, you will see the possibility of what is being shared here. This doesn’t mean it’s true, only that I, and others I’ve shared it with, have found it to be a profoundly empowering context in which to navigate the often challenging dynamics of an intimate relationship.

Accepting this possibility means you and your partner now have access to aspects of each other that are not even on your respective radars. Incredibly beautiful surprises that will continue to unfold, with the help of Presence, for the rest of the time you have together.