All modern fairytales end the same way: the beautiful princess gets to marry the rich and handsome knight in shiny armor who came to her rescue on his brilliantly sparkling white horse. Then they live happily ever after. Or at least this is what they want to make us believe in both Disney movies and romantic comedies alike. But is it true? Have you ever wondered why these happy love stories always end with the struggling lovers reuniting, but never portrait the remaining years of their relationship life together?
Well, maybe that is because we would find out that this prince is not making the princess happy anymore once the first couple of months of their romantic infatuation have passed. Yet, we all believe this romantic fairytale to some extend, and millions of women worldwide are waiting day after day for their knight in shiny armor to come and rescue them from their aloneness: “If only Mr. Right came along, my whole life would be so much better.” Or “Once I get married, all my problems will be solved.” You may laugh at this, but the truth is that consciously or unconsciously, many women (and men!) out there are secretly hoping for a partner or intimate relationship to somehow save them.
It is just how we are wired. You could also call it conditioning. Young girls are being spoon-fed with this fairytale from their mothers and mass media daily. Young men are told to be that handsome hero who will save that girl and always make her happy. It puts the pressure on, doesn’t it? And it is all the more devastating once we experience reality and see that what we have been taught to believe is a lie. Why? Because there is no one else out there that can make us happy for the rest of our lives. Believing this means not being prepared to realize that we are capable adults who are 100% responsible for their happiness. It means that we still cling on to the idea of a mommy or daddy who takes care of us and then we project that fantasy on our intimate partners.
I have been lost in this trap for many years. I too have been raised by a family who conditioned me to believe that I would have to find a good man who would take care of me and who could make me happy. It was not until many years later, when I met the deep and wise tantra teacher Alex Vartman, that I realized I was doing romantic dreaming and that there is another way. I am very grateful to him and his constant efforts of shattering people’s romantic dreams. Why? Because it prevents us from really seeing the other person for who they are and going deep with them in a conscious relationship.
As soon as we believe that another person can give us something that we do not have already, we disempower ourselves by putting them on a pedestal. We project an unrealistic image unto them that is very hard to live up to and give them shit for not matching that image with their real-life personalities. On top of that, we lose ourselves in them, meaning that we leave our center and heart-core, thereby losing contact with our true selves. How can we even meet another person, when there is no one “at home” inside?
Alex Vartman explains that “the romantic dream is generally quite destructive and it is the feminine equivalent to pornography. They are both superficial uses of potential loving sexual energy wasted in tissue over a porn movie or sitting there reading romance novels, watching Disney movies or dreaming about someone that you cannot have instead of dealing with your current reality.” This current reality could be anything from staying in a boring, unfulfilling or even destructive relationship or feeling frustrated and alone, projecting your longing for love and intimacy on a fantasy image of a man you know you cannot have.
Many people fantasize already on a first date about romantic trips to the Caribbean with that new person, or, what many women are out after-marriage and kids. “Could this handsome stranger be the perfect father for my children?” Trust me, ladies, men can feel this and as soon as you send out that kind of vibe, they will want nothing more but run and hide as fast as they can. You are diminishing your chances of ever seeing the guy again, not least getting to know him for who he is. That would be a shame, wouldn’t it?
Once we can let go of that irrational idea that anyone outside of ourselves can always make us happy or can fulfill us, we become free to start living. We let go of fear, pressure, and tension and we allow ourselves to become whole. From that place of inner wholeness, we can manifest a relationship that lets us grow together, as independent, happy human beings. The enlightened master Byron Katie says: “When I let go of the thought that someone special has to fulfill me, I become free. Then, everyone fulfills me.” Once we see through the conditioning, we can break it. We reclaim our power and personal freedom by detaching from the romantic dream and making space for a conscious relationship that can serve our mutual growth where we don’t wait for someone to fulfill us, but rather try to serve each other into deeper love and greater openness, using the relationship to bring out the best in ourselves and the other.
Now, what can you do once you find yourself doing romantic dreaming on somebody? Whether you are in an existing relationship or single, romantic dreams on other people can always occur. They have to do with attraction, projection and unmet longings. Here are a few useful tips to help you pop out of the romantic dream. Applying them will not only make you a free, more independent being, it will also help you to live a more fulfilled, happy and harmonious life.
1.) Be confessed. If you have a partner, and you are doing a romantic dream on another man or woman, idealizing them by thinking that they are somehow better than your current partner, you need to be honest about it. Nobody likes living with someone who is not that present with them. Your partner will feel it and it will just create sadness and separation. Instead, try to go vulnerable and confess to your beloved what is going on. This way, you will deepen the intimacy between each other and build trust. Let your partner listen empathically, without judging you. Stay open to each other, and the romantic dream will not be able to survive in the light of the day.
2.) Question it. Alone or with your partner, you can then inquire into the situation. A great question that Alex always brings up is “Do you think that the other person can serve you more than your current partner can?” This brings about a reality check. Usually, we couldn’t imagine living with that other person daily, and we become reminded of all the goodness that we share in our current intimacy.
3.) Unfulfilled longings. Ask yourself which needs or longings are met in you from daydreaming about this person. What would it give you to be with them? Often we project unmet childhood needs onto others. Owning our longings can be so empowering. We reclaim our independence once we realize that what we are longing for is already present inside of ourselves. By allowing ourselves to stay with the longing, it will eventually be filled up from the inside, effortlessly and easily. This requires commitment though. Commitment to our process, and our wholeness. Staying with an empty feeling or just being with the deep longing for love and connection can be very painful. Once we can allow it to be there, containing it within our hearts rather than indulging in addictions such as shopping or chocolate to fill the hole, we become the phoenix rising from the ashes. We become what we are most longing for.
4.) Let it go and be here now. This sounds like an obvious thing to do, but it turns out it is quite hard to put into practice. As human nature prescribes it, we want what feels good. If someone makes us feel good, we tend to cling on to them. They become addictive to our brains. This is how the mind works. The trick is to understand that it is not them that make us feel good. What we enjoy is the feelings they bring up inside of us. Enjoy these feelings as long as they last, but try not to cling on to them. Allow them to pass through you, arising and fading away. Don’t build a story around it in your mind. Stay present and open to whatever new experience life wants to give to you in each new moment.
5.) Be devoted. You might wonder, what does devotion and spirit have to do with romantic dreaming? A lot, as I have learned from my own experience through the years. My partner and I are living in an open/dynamic relationship, which at times allows for intimate meetings with others. Not because out of ego-gratification, but because we believe that this can serve our mutual growth and benefit other beings as well as the depth of our relationship itself. I have noticed that the more I pray to serve others, the more interesting people I meet. Often, these meetings are extremely deep and heart-opening. Then, it can be easy for me to go into romantic dreaming with that person, and sometimes I fall into that trap for a couple of days. I then believe it was them that created the deep experience, and I can put the person on a pedestal, starting to fantasize about them, which is very typical behavior with the romantic dream. Then I need to remind myself that it was the level of trust, openness, and surrender in the room that came from devotion which created those deep and heartfelt meetings. The next time I meet that man he might not be as great at all, and there is no energy between us. Instead of getting disappointed, we can then begin to see the variable. It is not about them, it is spirit or God that created this beautiful experience. Instead of clinging on to the man or the experience, it is wise to thank the universe for these blessings, and then let it go, praying to be used as an instrument again. Understanding this variable is vital because when you do, you know that you can channel that same level of love, openness, and connection into your intimate relationship. With these factors made conscious, meetings with others can serve the primary relationship and don’t have to take away from it by misleading one partner into a romantic dream that takes him or her away from the beloved.