Relationship Advice from Sri Sri
Chapter 2 Making Relationships Work

If you know how to row a boat, you can row any boat. But if you don’t know how to row, changing boats isn’t going to help. Similarly, changing a relationship does not necessarily solve the issue. Sooner or later, you will be in the same situation in any other relationship, because in all relationships, what is most important is your understanding of your own emotions, your own mind, your own ability to be stable, and your own ability to see things from a broader perspective. And for this, wisdom is important, because it is wisdom that gives you strength, stability and a broader perspective in life.

Most of the time, we look elsewhere for a perfect relationship; very few look within themselves, at the place from where they relate. To have a perfect relationship, you first need to see how you related with yourself. You need to look inside. It’s your limited awareness of yourself and the limited experience of love that encapsulates you in a tiny compartment where you start suffocating in relationships.

Love is not an emotion or an act; you are made up of a substance called love. Love is not saying, "Oh, I can't live without you". That is not love. Love is what you are! The more you understand this, and the more you get centered in yourself, the more your life will be filled with love.

How to Relate Wisely in Relationships

#1 Let Go of Control

Many have a problem of letting go of control. This results in anxiety and restlessness, and it sours relationships.

Wake up and see, are you really in control? What are you in control of? Perhaps a tiny part of your waking state! Isn’t that so?

  • You are not in control when you are sleeping or dreaming.
  • You are not in control of thoughts and emotions coming to you. You may choose to express them or not, but they come to you without your prior permission!
  • You realize that most of the functions of your body are not in your control, and the same for your life and the whole universe.

Similarly, do you think you are in control of all the events in your life or in the world? That is a joke! When you look at things from this angle you need not be afraid of losing control, because you have none! Whether you realize it or not, when you let go of your sense of control, that is when you truly relax. Your identification of being somebody does not let you relax totally, and it keeps your domain limited.

#2 Have a Sense of Reverence

Whatever you revere becomes bigger than you. When you have reverence in your relationships, then your own consciousness expands. Then even small things appear to be significant and big. Every little creature appears to be dignified. It is the reverence in every relationship that saves the relationship.

Often you do not have reverence for that which you own, and losing that reverence happens unconsciously. Reverence in ownership frees you from greed, jealousy and lust. Cultivate the skill of having reverence every moment in your life.

#3 Annihilate Conflict

When you are in a harmonious environment, your mind picks up any excuse to be in conflict. Often small things are enough to create a big turmoil. Have you noticed this?

When your survival is at stake, you don't complain that nobody loves you. But when you are safe and secure, you start demanding attention. Many people create conflict in order to get attention. So ask yourself this question: Do you seek harmony in every situation, or do you seek to widen the differences and prove your righteousness?

#4 Have Common Goals

When two lines move parallel with each other, they can go on together forever. But when the two lines are focused on each other, then they cross and go away from each other. The same is true with relationships. When both partners have a common goal in life, that makes their relationship last longer and brings more harmony. But when they are focused on each other, then they pick on each other; they love and hate, and all the fights happen.

If you can accept all the fights, all the misunderstandings, all the differences, all the diversities and move on, then you grow together.

#5 Know That You Have More Love Than You Deserve

You should always feel that you are not worthy of the love that you receive. Think that the love you receive is much more than what you deserve. If you come from this space of humility, then you will behave with magnanimity and dignity in all your dealings. You won’t chew on the past, you will live in the present moment, you will honor the other’s opinions, you will understand the other’s predicaments; that magnanimity will come from within.

If you keep this in mind, that I don’t deserve this love, you will not demand love. And when you don’t demand love in your life, it keeps on increasing.


#1 Relationships and Freedom

Q: Why do relationships take away our freedom?

If there is wisdom in relationships, it does not take away freedom. If there is no wisdom, then there is no freedom. It is not the relationship that gives or takes away your freedom, it is lack of wisdom.

Q. How do I satisfy my loved ones that are very demanding? I feel like I have no freedom.

Sometimes, it is okay to be little insensitive. When the demands are not justified or not logical, you do not have to feel obliged by those demands, but you don't have to get upset either.
Suppose you are not a doctor and someone is demanding, "Give me medicine"; will you get upset? No! You will just smile and say, "Well, I am sorry, I am not a doctor, I can't treat you". Now if they get upset then it is not your problem!

Find inner strength. Once you find your inner strength, nobody can take away your peace. And when you are centered, you are able to manage any situation, however complex however demanding.

Q: Gurudev, why are we losing our freedom and lightness as soon as a relationship goes deeper?

You don’t need to. A relationship should come from a space of contributing, not demanding, then it will be nurturing. In every relationship, if we think, “What can I take from this person, or get from this person” then it’s going to be very disturbing. But when you come from the attitude that, “I am going to be a part of this person, give whatever I can, and contribute whatever I can, to this person’s life”, then it lasts longer.

Q: How to be in a relationship without depending on the other, and without feeling possessive?

Know that love is your nature and relax. By your very nature you are loving. Give the person whom you love their freedom, their space. When you love somebody, you almost want to suffocate them. You want to police them from morning till night. It may sound very difficult to not do this, but that is the wisest thing to do. Don’t police the person you love a lot.

#2 Doubts and Challenges

Q: How do I know if a relationship is good for me or not? Is he just pushing my buttons and I need to learn from this, or is he just not good for me?

Before you judge someone else, first see how you relate to them. How big a heart you have, how much you can accommodate a person, and how much you can influence someone to change. This is what you need to look into.

Sometimes when you get a doubt, the doubt is always about something that is positive. Have you noticed that? We doubt the honesty of a person but we never doubt the dishonesty of a person.
If someone asks you, "Are you happy?" We doubt, we say, "Well, I am not sure", but we never doubt our depression, isn’t it so? Our doubt is always about something that is positive. So, consider the relationship from this angle also.

Q: I am not sure if I am with the right partner. I am getting bored in the relationship. What do I do?

See, if your relationship is based on personal need, it may not last long. Once the need is fulfilled, on a physical level or on an emotional level, the mind will look for something else and go somewhere else. If your relationship is from the level of sharing, then it can last longer.

When you are looking for security, love and comfort from your partner, you become weak. All the negative emotions come up and you become demanding, and demand destroys love. If we just know this one thing, we could save our love from getting rotten.

Q: Is there true love in this world? Most of the times love seems to be conditional, or out of convenience.

Do you love others unconditionally? Ask yourself this! Do not judge other people’s love for you. Suppose you find that someone’s love for you is conditional, don’t ask them, “Do you really love me? How much do you love me? Will you continue to love me all your life?”
Don’t ask these silly questions. Take it for granted that the other person loves you. If you find that their love is a little less, ask them, “Why do you love me so much?” instead of saying "You don’t love me".

Demand destroys love, so you should not demand love. Whether it is father-son, mother-daughter, husband-wife, wherever the demand comes, love starts reducing. So from your side, you be unconditional to your partner or your parents and say, “I am here for you. What is it that you want, I am here”.

Q: I am in love with a girl who wants me to prove my love to her by asking for expensive gifts. You had said that love is absolutely free, but this one turned out to be extremely expensive!

Maybe she is testing you to see how much you can sacrifice. Love does demand sacrifice. So maybe she wants to see how miserly or generous you are. But that does not imply that you squander all you have. A true lover can never be greedy. A lover is joyful, peaceful, and generous. Use your discrimination.

#3 Overcoming Conflicts

Q: How do you bring peace to a relationship with a lot of conflict and arguments?

There are two ways to handle it:

Move away from that place at that time - because when everybody is angry and things are heating up, everyone goes deaf. Angry people do not listen to anyone. The best thing is move away a little bit and wait for things to cool down.

Be there, with patience - First agree with the person, say, "Yes, I agree with you".
Suppose your partner is arguing with you, don’t say, "No, you are wrong". Instead say, "Yes, you are right, I agree with you". The moment you agree, the temperature comes down. As the temperature comes down, say, "But…". This is the secret. Sometimes people come to me with big ideas. I tell them, "Your idea is brilliant, very good, but it is impractical". Use your skill to calm the situation, and then get across what you want to the other person.

Q: How do we deal with the anger I have towards my spouse, especially when we both are at completely different frequencies?

First realize you are magnanimous. If you believe in your magnanimity and your inner beauty, it will become easier for you to handle all such situations. When you don’t look within, when you are simply focusing on the behavior of others, it will definitely rattle your mind. Then you try to correct the other person and you will be unsuccessful.

People who irritate you, in some way or the other can bring about the best in you. They can bring out the talents and skills in you. See, when everyone around you is wonderful you don’t need any skill to handle a situation. It will only happen when there are people whom you think are unreasonable. So take it as an exercise as much as possible. I know it is not an easy job, but at least you save your mind.

Q: Should we protect our relationships at the cost of our self-respect?

Self-respect is one thing and egoism is another. Self-respect is something that nobody can snatch from you. If you have self-respect then you will keep smiling even if a million people verbally abuse you. Accept criticism! It is the other person’s choice to say what they want to say.

Somebody once told me something, and I told them that they have all the right to project their ignorance. Why should we spoil our mind over another's ignorance? Save it at any cost.

Q: I hate lies, but also do not like bitter truths. Please give us a middle path.

Even if the lie does not feel good, if it is in your interest, accept it. And it is not necessary that all truths are bitter. Present it in a pleasant manner. The power is in the words you choose, and in the tone of voice. The same bitter truth can become sweet.

#4 Dealing with Hurt and Bitterness

Q: How to keep on loving without expecting. How is it possible? In love expectations arise, and if not fulfilled, it hurts.

Yes, you will have to go through these gymnastics. If you have wisdom, you don’t have to go through the pain to learn. When there is lack of wisdom, you go through pain, but you will come out of it in sometime, don’t worry.

This is why it is important for one to have a larger context to life. When you have a larger context, all these trivial things don’t really bother you. They are all like waves on the surface of the ocean, they rise and fall. So, have a bigger context to life; that is the knowledge of the self.

When you go deeper into the self, you realize that nothing can shake you because you are much bigger than your emotions, your situations and the people around you. Their praise and their blame don’t matter because you are much bigger than all this!

Self knowledge uplifts you. With self knowledge you do not drown in the ocean of emotions and hurt.


Q: My partner speaks foul words when he gets angry and he gets angry easily at small things. Later on he forgets what he said and I keep on crying. Please suggest what to do in this situation?

See, he says all the nasty things and forgets about it, so you also listen and forget. When he gets angry, instead of telling him, "Don’t say it, don’t say it", and holding on to it in your heart, keep ear plugs with you and put them on immediately. Maybe you can keep ear plugs in your earrings, and the moment he says something, put them on and smile. Or you can slowly slip away from there. When he starts getting angry, tell him you have to urgently go to the bathroom and go and lock yourself in there for half an hour or so. Or go for a walk. You need to find some tricks.

Once you know a person has this sort of a nature, no point in sitting and crying and making yourself miserable. That is how they are made, that is from their upbringing.

Q: When love turns into bitterness, what to do?

Just wait, don’t react, the bitterness will turn back into love again. You often see that the people for whom you have done so much turn bitter, and you cannot handle it. This is because you expect everyone to be in an enlightened state, and that is not possible. Everyone is not just going to be as accepting as you are, or be in an unconditionally giving and loving space. That is not possible. You will have to face reactions, and you should face it, that is all.

Q: I can forgive, but I cannot forget the hurt my partner has caused me. What to do?

It's very difficult, isn't it! When you are in love with somebody, pain happens. They are not responsible for your pain, you simply feel pain. Just look at them, what can they do? They cannot behave in a different way.. But your expectations are more, so naturally, all this pain comes. And because pain is not likable to anybody, you start hating the person.

If you are wise, you will see that they are just an instrument, that's all. You have to walk your path. Before you met them, you had a life. And afterwards also you will have a life. It is only the divine who will be with you forever.

#5 Jealousy and Possessiveness

Q: I feel jealous when I see my girlfriend interacting with someone else. I love her but these feeling of mine are bringing a distance between us. How do I handle this?

I think this is very common. People feel this way even after getting married. 

If a new person comes to your house, will you welcome them and talk to them? Yes, you would. Now someone looking at you will think you look very happy. Suppose you are welcoming someone and talking to them happily and your girlfriend sees you and feels jealous about it, how would you feel? 
Put yourself in her shoes. Many times it could be your own imagination; the way your own mind functions because of possessiveness. When you are possessive then the whole chain of negative thoughts starts coming. So when you love somebody, just take it for granted that they are yours.

Quotes on Entering Relationships

"Why don't you look inside? You cannot correct the other person but you can definitely correct yourself.” SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR
"You should make this promise today that whether it be your friends, relatives, parents, spouse or siblings, whosoever comes to you will leave with more peace and joy. You will not give them a chance to complain and you will make their life happier.” SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR
"Love gets destroyed when we start demanding for it. This is what usually happens in relationships. We fall in love and we fall out of love very soon, because we started demanding.” SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR
"We need to embrace everyone with love. When love can melt even the hardest stone, can it not transform a human being?" SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR
"There is nothing that love cannot transform. Accommodate people and see, they will be transformed.” SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR
"When you understand a person beyond his words that is when a real relationship builds up.” SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR
Well Done. You made it through chapter two!