Excerpts from two cafe conversations on building a real relationship:
Q: I am wondering whether a relationship I am in is real, and whether we’re a match. Can you help me figure this out?
John: To simplify it, stay away from being sexually physical. It’s not for moral reasons; it’s for practical reasons, because as soon as you build a fire everything is about the fire. If you build a relationship without building a fire, it’s much more stark and very simple, but then what you’re in the relationship for is really clear.
Q: It’s difficult to stop once you’re in a relationship that’s already become sexual.
John: It won’t be difficult once you’re married; you’ll stop it easily. Familiarity easily ends it all, whereas when you’re in the newness, all you want is the fire.
Basically, don’t have sex until you’re married, and it’s not for old ideas or old reasons. It goes way deeper than that. It’s just very practical and it works, whereas the other doesn’t work. It isn’t that there’s something wrong with fire, it’s that the relationship is not ready for a fire.
Q: How do you know if you’re a match or not?
John: If you don’t know, then spend lots of time together without the fire. Then you’re basically developing a friendship until it becomes clear to you – really clear to both of you – that you would really marry. As soon as that’s clear, that’s where your relationship starts, whereas before that it’s a friendship.
Once the relationship starts, then continue to leave out the physical because the fire will just take over the whole relationship. It will burn high and then come down. Then, once you get married and familiarity sets in, the most difficult part is to have a fire at all. It’s a lot easier to do without the fire initially than later to try to build up a fire, where everything in your selves makes it difficult.
Building a relationship without the fire is what you need to be able to build a fire in a familiar relationship.
Q: What do you say about being physical in other ways, like hugging, holding hands or kissing?
John: If you hug, then you hug as friends and you know the difference. If you cross that line, then you’re starting a little fire and that fire will build quickly. If you introduce a fire to discover each other on a friendship level to see if there’s a worthy relationship or a worthy marriage, that will distract you.
Q: What is the difference between a friendship and a relationship? If I keep sexuality out of the relationship, what is the difference between that and friendship? Is it only the commitment?
John: The commitment, and an unending depth of dearness that you give into toward each other.
Q: I’m surprised how often I can fall down and out of the dearness.
John: Falling down doesn’t matter. What matters is the manner in which you get back up, and how quickly you get back up. How quickly do you open and soften? That’s what matters. See how practical where you’re coming from is on a self-level, because in a relationship it’s intensely practical. It’s what makes or breaks a relationship.
Have a deep friendship in discovering each other. Dig into each other. Find out how the other deals with pressure and with personal cost.
Q: What would be the reason for a marriage or a committed relationship?
John: That you would have deeper level reasons for getting married, not surface level reasons.
Q: How does this translate to the deeper levels? Is it to do with dearness?
John: Deeper level seeing. This isn’t something that’s common; it’s a most unusual way of relationship coming together, but it’s the kind that works. The easy way that relationships come together is the way they won’t work.
Q: In the past I’ve experienced that fire coming up when there’s been deep attraction, and I’ve also known relationships with less fire but a lot of dearness – more like a heart connection, and maybe sexually not so strong.
John: That’s better, and then take it one step further.
Q: What would that step be?
John: Deeper levels.
Q: And if I don’t see that deeper level connection maybe it’s not there?
John: If you don’t see it then you’re probably not moving in it, or the two of you are probably not moving in it. If you’re moving in it, you’ll see it.
Q: Can you see if I’m moving in it?
John: It doesn’t matter what I see; it matters what you see and she sees. Surface compatibility is not your ground.
Q: What do you mean by “surface compatibility”?
John: That you like each other and enjoy spending time together, lots of meaningful interactivity. That’s not your ground. Your ground has to be that you’re both coming from the same place regarding truth and depth – you’re both coming from the same place, moving in the same direction and that’s your life. It’s on that that you build your whole relationship.
Q: I can sense that in her. She has that aspect.
John: She has that aspect but that’s not her life. Everyone has that aspect.
Q: Sometimes it takes time to sink into it.
John: If it’s not solidly there, in a way that you can give it a really good shake and it’s just solid, I wouldn’t have that relationship. As soon as a friendship is coming together and that foundation gets shaken, for me that would end the possibility of a relationship right there. I wouldn’t live on any kind of hope, such as “oh, she’ll grow, she’ll develop, she’ll come around.” There, hope is a deceiver.
Q: I’m confused, because at the beginning there was a sense of huge potential.
John: Easily, and it doesn’t necessarily mean very much. Set up the circumstances just right, and you can find streams of being, movement of deeper levels, depth and heart in almost anyone. Apply a little bit of pressure and 90% of everyone falls off. Apply more pressure, and the percentage of those who are still there becomes less and less.
What I’m referring to is a bomb-proof relationship: how to start it, how to build it, how to keep it.
Q: Anything less than that you don’t recommend.
John: You would have a bomb-proof relationship, or you don’t need a relationship. Don’t start with something faulty and try to make it better, nor have hope that she’ll come around.
Most relationships are not real relationships, they’re contractual relationships: mutual exploitation with some heart and maybe some deeper levels mixed into it, but they go by the wayside as soon as there’s pressure.
In an average relationship, as soon as there’s pressure there’s a fight, whereas in a real relationship, as soon as there’s pressure the deep shows up because that’s where each goes. That’s where they’re drawing from.