Anyone can have sex. Don't you want to make make an honest, deep, lasting connection with someone?
Love. Sex. Boys. Girls. The same problems and frustrations again and again. We've been there countless times, wondering when we'll find that ONE, that perfect person we want to stay with forever and ever.
Even in a relationship, we reach a point where the person we're with doesn't feel as special as he or she used to. Maybe we start picking at flaws or noticing other people, wondering if we'd be happier with them. And once again, the relationship begins its slow decline.
What if you could guarantee a spark that lasted—no matter who you were with—and a happier life to go along with it?
The ancient teachings of Buddhism suggest that we can do just that if we transform our relationships into spiritual partnerships. If we use our relationships to make us wiser, kinder and more compassionate, we can actually change how they function. We can have the relationships and lives we've always dreamed of.
So what exactly is a spiritual partner? He or she is an ally for personal growth. You both decide that you want to work together to become your best selves as quickly as possible. You commit to helping and loving each other—and, here's the key—everyone around you.
Because, it is only when you are living love and kindness that your relationship will truly flourish. Try it and see. When put into practice, you can make all your dreams come true.
How do you do it? Whether you're in a relationship or seeking a new one, here are 10 methods for building a spiritual partnership.
1. Commit to something higher.
The element that elevates a spiritual partnership beyond an ordinary relationship is the revolutionary idea that your role is to support each other on your path to reach ultimate evolution, to become your best self.
Get clear that what you are looking for is not just physical security or emotional support but spiritual evolution. This means you are supporting each other in your mutual quest to become a more "enlightened" being.
Whatever goals you set for your relationship will dictate how it functions day to day. If your goal is company, or financial security, don't expect long-term satisfaction. If your goal is radical evolution of your body, mind and spirit, expect fulfillment beyond your dreams.
2. Be what you want your partner to be.
Make a list of the qualities you most want in a partner. Instead of looking for amazing features in someone else, develop them in yourself. For example: If you want a partner with financial stability, get stable yourself! You want someone fun? BE fun!
The beauty of perception is that you will see all your own qualities, both good and bad, reflected back to you in your partner. Be complete in yourself, and you will see completion in your partner.
3. Cleanse past relationships. Think of your exes. What comes to mind? If it's anything other than love, you have some work to do. The images and feelings that arise in your memory color how you experience your current relationships.
Learn to forgive. No matter how bad your past relationship was, it taught you exactly what you needed to learn.
4. Recognize change and use it to grow.
Part of healing past relationships is embracing change. In Buddhist philosophy, this understanding is the foundation of wisdom. There's no start without a finish, no beginning without an end, no life without death.
Your relationship will transform as you each evolve. As spiritual partners, your job is to love and support each other through this process. Use change for growth—don't fight it.
5. Cultivate a daily meditation practice.
If you want to see a wise, loving, spiritual partner, you must be that yourself. Create a daily practice that includes meditation, prayer or deep contemplation.
There are a multitude of studies that prove the mental and physical health benefits of meditation. Learning to get still and meditate well is just like anything else: it takes training. Find and practice a method that speaks to you and connects you to something higher.
The time and attention you give your meditation practice determines the results you will get. And don't let it scare you—you can start with just a few minutes a day. For guidance, check out dhamma.org.
6. Get physical, every day.
Touch, intimacy and connection are essential ingredients of spiritual partnerships. A satisfying intimate relationship starts with having a body that you feel good in.
Yogic teachings explore the subtle energetic connections we have with each other. In order to access these deeper dimensions, your physical form must be healthy.
Commit to a healthy diet that works with your needs. Commit to an exercise regimen that enlivens you. Do something fun! Turn yourself on, and watch what happens in your intimate partnership…
7. Face your demons.
We all have baggage, right? We all have shadows that we don't want to see. Being in a spiritual partnership requires that we grow up into the person we were meant to be.
An essential step is bringing what we most deny in ourselves into the open. Partnerships are challenging. Your relationship is going to bring all your darkness to the surface. This is usually when the relationship ends, or when the "blame game" starts.
Resolve instead to help each other work through the psychological issues that arise. And don't think they won't arise! Find a good coach or therapist, as necessary. Do this work and watch your hearts flower and your minds expand. Otherwise your own shadows will inevitably undo your relationship.
8. Plan a date with an angel, twice a month (at least!).
How you treat your relationship will create the results you experience. Is this the most special person on the planet to you? If so, how should you treat them? If you relate to them as a sacred being, they will be. If you treat them as ordinary, they will be.
Make a commitment that you will have a "date with an angel" twice a month. Remember the blissful feelings when you first met and re-create those times.
Dress up, go out to the best restaurant, or make his/her favorite meal at home. Take time to make everything special. Think about what they would like: flowers, gifts, the works!
9. Align your visions.
A spiritual partnership is all about supporting each other's deepest desires. In order to stay together, your two visions must align. Ask each other: What do you most wish for? What is calling you? Explore these questions with courage and honesty.
Your visions don't need to agree, but they need to align. Find the common aspects of both of your visions for the future. Maybe one of you wants to live abroad, while the other wants to live near family.
Instead of getting caught in dualism, look for "third ways." We can move mom with us! Or live each place six months a year.
10. Go for your dreams.
We are all meant to be the heroes of our own lives. No one can do it for you, even your spiritual partner. The best thing you can do for your relationship is to become the being you dream of, the being you were born to be.
Kimberley Theresa is an expert in Buddhism, yoga, mysticism and psychology. She is the co-Founder and Executive Director of the Yoga Studies Institute (YSI), a global not-for-profit organization that trains yoga teachers on the inner and outer methods of yoga.
"From my mom and dad, because they're happily married for a long time: Just listen. Listen to him. I'm so independent and driven and stubborn. Just let him talk. It's about not being so stubborn and having to win every argument. My parents set a great example. They love each other and take care of each other so much."
"It's kind of cheesy, but my mama, who you all have seen on the show, says to cook for your man. She's Southern, so when he comes home, be pullin' a pie out of the oven. That's always been her advice, and you know what? It works. Your man wants to see you in the kitchen, puttin' some love into some food; it works for Eric, that's for sure."
"The best advice I've ever been given is being handed a Bible. That's the blueprint for marriage that we go by, and that's what our marriage is grounded in. We also have other married couples who are examples in our lives. My parents have been married over 40 years, and both sets of grandparents for over 65 years. When you see couples in long-term relationships and you see them go through good times and bad times, you realize it's about being committed enough and loving your partner enough to hang in there regardless."
"My mom told me, "It shouldn't be that difficult." My parents had their moments for sure, but the majority of their relationship has been really great. It shouldn't be that much work to make love work."
"You've got to be good to each other … it really comes back to respect. I was raised in a very Catholic, Italian family and it was all about respect. Don't talk badly about [your partner] the second they walk out the door; really preserve your relationship and be good to each other. Treat it like gold."
"Don't lie to your partner. Ultimately the expression on your face gives you away, and they feel betrayed by the lie. If this is the person you're going to be with—forever and ever, for better or worse—they will love you for all of your good and all of your bad. They'll love you for you. So open communication is key. I have no secrets and no skeletons in my closet with my husband, and I love that. I feel comfortable and at ease with myself when I'm around him. I love the woman that I've become with him."
"I think the best love advice I've ever received is really about understanding that communication is key, of course, but also that there's not one perfect person for you. You kind of have to accept what are the things that are negotiable for you and what are not."
"My mom always told me, "Whatever happens, will happen" or 'Whatever is supposed to happen, will happen." I've learned you'll know when you find the right person. When I found the right person, I knew it immediately."
18. The Five Love Languages Author Dr. Gary Chapman
"Before I discovered the concept of the 5 love languages, a bit of advice I was given was to become a student of my wife and to take time to learn what makes her feel loved. I soon learned that what makes her feel loved may not always be the thing I want to do because it may not come natural to me. But learning to love her in the way that makes her feel loved is a greater demonstration of my love for her, because I've chosen to do it with a goal of pleasing her."
"Pay attention to the girl, instead of myself. A bunch of people [told me that]. It's terrible. I'm very into myself, so people are always like, "Pay attention to the other person. Don't ever separate yourself." It's a good lesson. I'm learning. I'm doing good."
"Don't get divorced after your first argument! I have a lot of friends that have one fight and that's it, they get divorced. I go, 'Wait a minute! Oh my gosh, you guys! Calm down! You'll forget in three days what you were fighting about. I promise. So just let it marinate a little bit—that's my best love advice."
21. The Real Housewives of Miami's Adriana de Moura
"When I was about 15, [my grandmother] said something I will always remember: 'Love comes before money.' I will never let anything like greed come between us when it comes to love. She was married to my grandfather for 70 years. It's very hard to have a long-term relationship and if you're not sure, it's not going to last. Make sure that you truly love."
"If you're looking for love, focus on something you love to do and work hard. Love will find you. Basically, love yourself before you love anyone else. A lot of girls have such insecurities nowadays that you have to be comfortable with who you are before you can really have a good relationship with someone else."
"Love advice is like life advice, so there are so many elements of that. I think humor, patience, admiration are really important love elements. Love and respect. You have to respect the person that you're going to love, and you have to be confident in yourself and love yourself."
'Think about how much you'd miss that if he were gone tomorrow.' This is my senior producer's advice in my ear during our news show if I'm grumbling about my hubby, whether about his habit of leaving dirty clothes around, or the way he goes into la la land while I'm talking with him, or that he wakes me up being loud overnight. How true! Heaven forbid, but if something ever happens to our loved ones, oh how we'd long for them to be back, and their little aggravating habits would be something cherished.
"On the other hand the best love advice I've ever given is: Gals, don't marry someone for their looks. Sooner or later we all age and start to droop. Don't marry someone for their position and don't marry someone for money. Money comes and goes, and since when is that love? Marry someone because they make you laugh. Humor is always sexy. Besides, it's awfully hard to get mad at someone while they're making you laugh."
30. The Real Housewives of New York's Heather Thomson
"Well, it's one of the oldest. It really is paradoxical, but it's true: You just can't go to bed mad. You have to make up, because there's only one alternative, and that alternative is not being together. So, my husband and I always decide we might as well make up, whether we agree to disagree or not. We understand we are individuals and that together we're unbelievably powerful and that we have a family that is the most important thing, and that I wouldn't trade him for the world. So, love is about give and take, and love is about understanding that you're individuals and together as a couple, you're the strongest there ever is ifyou're in the right couple."
"I was going to say, 'It's work, relationships take work,' but that makes it sound like relationships are hard, that they're work. Rebecca and I have always gotten along really well. We've always had a really strong connection. I'm the last guy that should be giving people advice on love, that's for sure. But I have a great marriage. I just got lucky, I guess."
"I lost my dad back in the fall, and my dad said something to me a long time ago. He said, 'Are you happy with who you are now?' because we just had a real serious talk. And I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Then you can't regret what got you to where you are. So whatever you do and whatever mistakes you make, learn from them and grow. And just always treat people with kindness,' which I've tried to do."
"My mom always used to say, "You can't say I love you before you can say I." And I think that sort of makes sense."