As we evolve as humans, so do our love relationships. At this point of our human history we can map out eight stages:
1. In the most fundamental form, love relationships are driven by basic survival instincts: food, shelter and sex. Our primary sexual selection process is still driven from this level and experienced when we drop any rational or moral consideration in order to become sexual with another human being.
2. At the next level, a deep sense of magical belonging to a partner emerges. This is often described in fairy tales, over-romanticized movies, romance novels, and books about soul-mates or twin-flames who we shared previous lives with. We experience this form of love when we sense that we can’t live without a specific person who makes us feel (psychologically) complete. Some therapists call this “mutually compatible pathologies”. This stage is not to be confused with the transpersonal stage of balancing and harmonizing feminine and masculine polarities with an uniquely compatible evolutionary co-creator.
3. Following this magical stage, we desire a partner who satisfies our ego by giving us all that we ever wanted and deserve right now; someone who selflessly satisfies all our needs and desires, while sacrificing his or her own. If he or she fails to do so, we demand to be loved, supported, accepted and respected, and are quick to punish our partner and end the relationship if we don’t get what we want.
4. As we evolve further, we realize that sexual, magical and romantic feelings do not equate love, but that “Real Love” is not a feeling but an action that is governed by mythic rules such as irrevocable commitment, humility, selflessness, sacrifice, devotion and “marriage until death do us apart”. Separating from a spouse is unacceptable and if we do so leads to immense personal guilt, punishment by society and condemnation by a higher authority/power.
5. In the next stage of love, we realize that exceptional couples support each other in realizing their highest potential for self-actualization, professional and personal success, freedom, sexual fulfillment, optimal emotional and physical health, wealth, and happiness. We don’t even consider a relationship if we don’t get 100% of what we desire in a mate (see for example Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough by Lori Gottlieb). If an existing partner can no longer support us in reaching our goals, and after some obligatory couples therapy, it is advised and legitimate to seek a new partner who has the necessary personal qualities and social resources to propel us higher and helps us to realize our highest dreams and aspirations.
6. Once we exhaust our potentials for worldly success and deriving happiness through a partner, the potential for non-localized “spiritual” or “unconditional love” emerges. We find an inner source of higher love that also flows out to all sentient beings. As Rumi wrote; “our task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within ourselves that we have built against it.” Many forms of love relationships emerge from this level, and we can love and be sexual with multiple people who love us and all others in return (with the performative contradiction that we ostracize people who we perceive as un-loving, namely people in stages 4, 5, and 7).
7. We escape the “everything goes” variations of love in the former stage when we integrate the healthy aspects and partial truths of all the previous forms of relationships, and transcend their limited views. This allows us to co-create a committed partnership in which we meet our own and the physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, social, psychological and spiritual needs of our partner by making an agreement to choose to love, and to heal, learn and grow together.
8. The latest emergence of love relationships is between couples who fully embody the previous “Integral” level and share an authentic evolutionary purpose. They are not only committed to supporting each other’s ongoing deeper psychological healing and higher spiritual/evolutionary realization, but are also uniquely poised to serve the evolution of humanity into an ever more peaceful and sustainable future as a couples with equal rights and responsibilities. These couples provide the greatest good for the largest number of people through their authentic evolutionary purpose by advancing into novelty together.
Couples who are at different stages of their evolution/development or are pathologically attached to limited vies of earlier stages or have not fully included (transcend and include) the healthy aspects or basic capacities (rungs) of each earlier stage will experience dissonance in their relationship. In some cases, transformational Integral coaching or Integral therapy can provide a solution, in other cases, ending the relationship with love and compassion serves both partners best.
See Integral Relationships: A Manual for Men (and curious women) under “Ladder Climber View” on page 126 and “To be or not to be” on page 160 for more.
If you are (or become) single, you can find an Integral partner at www.integralsingles.com.