Nope. I was the one who ended intimate relationships.
I see now I was also the one who never fully showed up for those relationships.
But I only finally realized this after a woman I deeply loved broke up with me.
Ironically, only 2 weeks before she ended things, I wrote this on Facebook:
“Sometimes the best a woman can do for a man is leave him.
Too many men will only wake up by experiencing the total unraveling of everything they hold dear (even if they won’t admit to holding anything dear).
If you make it easy for a man to love small, he’ll never learn to love any bigger.
It took strong women to pretty much make life hell for me to even begin rousing me from my own masculine slumber.
You might ask, especially if you’re a man … ‘Wake up to what?’
Wake up to what it really means to show up in Love.”
The weeks that followed our breakup were devastating.
When she left me, I was already a renowned relationship coach and blogger.
I had just launched my “Love, Sex, Relationship Magic” online course to teach the world how to make magic in love. I absolutely believed I had the knowledge and commitment to make beautiful lifelong partnership happen with this woman. I knew it wouldn’t always be easy, and that we were going through a rough patch. Still, I was certain we would be fine.
Yet to my utter surprise, she ended it and my world came undone.
Suddenly, I couldn’t sleep even 4 hours a night.
I was overwhelmed daily by gut-wrenching pangs of despair and sadness. So much of what I previously thought was so important – work success, my creative voice, various personal freedoms – became entirely meaningless. All the worldly problems I was always trying to figure out and solve simply ceased to matter.
What did magically crystalize in my consciousness during this excruciating cleansing was clarity into the deepest yearning I’ve ever known:
I realized I wanted more than anything to learn how to truly, fully love this woman.
Just three weeks after she left, we had a serendipitous opportunity to interact.
She experience me cracked wide open.
I was so melted into my heart by the realization that nothing else truly mattered – not my success, not even my life – except learning how to love this woman in ways she would actually know she was loved.
She also experienced my complete surrender to what was happening; I was willing to let her go if that was still her choice.
Within a few days, we were back together and getting on with creating an entirely new relationship.
As a result of those three excruciating weeks apart, I learned perhaps the most profound lesson of my life:
No amount of knowledge or insight will ever be more valuable in a relationship than simply learning how to stay in my heart.
When we were apart, I ached for her like a man aches for an amputated arm – I had phantom-girlfriend syndrome. I soon realized that my longing for “her” was actually a projection of my profound desire to BE the massive love living inside my own authentic heart.
As an intellectual man trained by culture to emotionally disconnect, I have long struggled to connect with the massive love that insides my own heart. Naturally, it followed that I also struggled to sustain connection with my intimate partners, too.
My head only always got in the way of love. I always wanted to be right – or at least understand why I wasn’t.
When I couldn’t intellectually understand my partner’s pain, I would shut down, convinced it was something in her thinking that was at fault. With my mind already closed to love, my heart could only follow, and soon I would close to the idea of the relationship altogether. I created many a mess this way.
I see now that the true gift of intimate relationship reveals itself only when I’m willing to let everything else be less important than learning how to show up in love – including intellectual understanding and being right.
For a smart man who knows lots of stuff and has had all kinds of material success – yet who has long felt something massive was missing in his life – learning how to consistently show up connected to heart, in relationship with my woman, is proving to be the most exquisite adventure of them all!
Indeed, I see now that as I learn how to fully love all of my woman, I learn how to live more consistently connected to my own authentic heart.
Previously published on bryanreeves.com
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