SooYiMongSeng wrote: How has buddhism affected your own personal view of romantic relationships?
Here is how:
The way one approaches romantic relationships changes with time. So, what a person needs out of a relationship is different when they are 20 years old from when they are 50, and their needs and expectations are going to be a little different. It's not that the love people want is different, but the way
people love each other, the expectations, the ways love manifests itself are going to change a little, and so this will affect where "attachment" is greater or lesser. If you are younger, you rely a lot more on that "crush" feeling, being madly in love and so forth. When you are older, having done that already (a lot if you are a hopeless romantic) this intense longing is not so much of a requirement. What you need and feel perhaps more subtle.
Huseng said: "If you're really detached, you won't have relationships."
The fact is, we are already in relationships with everybody on the planet, even with people we don't know. That's basic interconnectedness. This is the foundation from which the intense, romantic relationships are extracted. It's like a funnel-filter. Out of the billions of people in the world, we relate to very few, and out of those very few we may or may not find a person who might be one's "life partner" or whatever. But even then, even if you find somebody and get married for example, you are still, ultimately "alone". You are always going to be just yourself and nobody else, even when you are alone with that person. So the dynamics of the relationship reflect that fact about you as well as about your partner.
There are actually six people involved in a romantic relationship:
1. the person you think
2. the person the other person thinks
3. the person the other person thinks
4. the person you think
the other person is
5. the person you really
6. the person the other person really
And most of the time, it is the first four who get into relationships and whose relationships fall apart because of misunderstandings. These four imagine themselves as sort of a permanent-identity of this or that, with a lot of attachment to the self. Lots of projections of mind. But everything is always changing. People continually change and grow. When this happens, these first four just don't survive.
Less often do we find the last two in a relationship. If two individuals are really in tune with who they really are inside, and are honest with themselves, there is not so much need for attachment. You don't have the Frankenstein effect, where two people who feel somehow "not complete unless there is someone else in my life" latch on to each other, like sewing together the halves of two different people, trying to make one whole person. You see that a lot. It doesn't work!!!
Sometimes the other four have to get out of the way, and this might take a lot of work, but it is the last two who are the ones who know if they are are compatible or not. Ultimately, it is the last two who have a lasting and loving (and healthy) relationship, because all the bullsh** is finally out of the way.
Finally, I think that for a buddhist, one's partner can also be one's greatest teacher (even if they are unaware of that). You have to constantly put aside your own needs (some of them, temporarily) for the other person. You have to practice generosity, patience, wisdom, and effort, all the time knowing that the whole thing is temporary anyway, until "at death you do part". I joke with my teacher (lama) about the towers that Milarepa was ordered to build, by his teacher Marpa. This is a story from the Kagyu (Tibetan) Lineage. Marpa was a great teacher and he had a student, Milarepa, who was very wild. Marpa told him to build a stone tower, sort of an observation tower. When it was done, Marpa told him it wasn't right, knock it down and build it again. Move it a few feet to the right or whatever. He did this over and over again, it took years, and it was (part of) how Milarepa became enlightened. So, I joke with my teacher that Milarepa should have just gotten married, which is much harder, much more work and much more frustrating than building a series of stone towers, and he would have gotten enlightened a lot sooner!
If you are a monk or a yogi or something, then Huseng's comments are correct. But for people who want to be in relationships, this can also be a path. The degree to which one is attached to another person is really only a reflection of how much one is attached to one's "self"
. If you are in a romantic relationship, the more you cling to yourself, the more you cling to another person. It may not seem this way. On the surface, many people in relationships seem to ignore each other. So, this seems like the opposite of things, but really, I think this is the case. The more you can let go of clinging to "me", the more you and the other person can actually interact as healthy individuals. So, Buddhist practice of letting go of "me" is really beneficial to relationships.