There is a price to pay in every relationship. First there’s the price of admission and ultimately there is the exit price. To be in relationship you have to be willing to show up and be fully known. Anything short of that guarantees a problematic excursion. And the being “fully known” must be artfully explored – like a dance. In the early stages, however, you must set boundaries, discuss yourself and demonstrate a willingness to listen to the other. Holding back information may be strategic to keep you in the relationship but in the long run it just won’t work.  Everything is revealed in relationship – aspects of self, needing to be addressed will inevitably arise. For true growth can only occur in relationships. We do not grow in isolation and mental activity.


Life lived fully is not for the weak at heart. Make no mistake; relationships are a crucible for growth. They will rock the very root of our soul. And if you want to keep the status quo and live in your comfort zones, stay away from relationships. They carry with them their own life and sustaining energy. Life lived in comfort requires little or no soul work, but it also provides minimal satisfaction. Oh, there are the moments of coolness, surfing the highest wave in Maui, winning a triathlon, scoring highest on the MCAT, but those ultimately leave us empty and void. And shy of a relationship, life’s victories have a hallow feeling.


The best relationships are where two individuals are able to stand independently, as a pillar, side by side. They are strong in their own sense of self and do not need the other to define them. The best candidates for love are those able to state who they are, what they need and how they wish to live their lives. To me, the best definition of love is the willingness to work on my issues and myself so that I may be fully present to another. Short of being fully present, my partner would only get half of me. The gift I give in relationship is all of me. So when I look in my partner’s eyes, I am not thinking of the business deal tomorrow, the words spoken by others yesterday or society’s frame of reference, shaped by years of public opinion. I am looking at my partner as an integrated and whole person – fully present to the moment.


What it costs to have intimacy is the willingness to leave your comfort zone, pick yourself up and go forward. I have met potential partners, time and again, who want to stay comfortable while being in relation. They try and predetermine what the relationship should or should not be. I contend that relationships have their own life force, and require time to flourish and evolve. Trying to make it something the relationship wasn’t designed to be will negate that opportunity.  I have decided, of late, to stop trying to play God and figure the ending out before the beginning has started. It’s not easy, based on my wiring. I don’t want to be hurt (who does?) or abandoned and so I used to be the guy who wanted to know the end of the story. It almost sounded like, “I know you’re going to do something that will hurt me, and so tell me now so I can get it out of the way.” That’s obviously not healthy. We all carry baggage of self into new relationships. Are we willing to suffer the loss of that baggage is the critical question. That baggage feels incredibly comfortable, though amazingly cumbersome.


Love can hurt because anytime I navigate uncharted terrain; I must leave my patterns behind in order to spread my wings. Leaving those patterns behind means living in Neverland – that wilderness of the unknown, where self-reliance is critical and all-important. That is a remarkably uncomfortable place to experience. I see no other option, for to live fully; I must be willing to take that journey. My other choice is a life lived half-baked. In that world I would pass, as Kahlil Gibran says, “Into that season less life, where I may laugh but not all of my laughter and cry, but not all of my tears.” I’ll take the bite of love and keep moving forward. I don’t like the other option.