In my experience, intimate relationship functions as a crucible where our past can become metabolized, where our core vulnerabilities will be sure to come on display in the most vibrant (and often excruciating) ways and, if it is what we really want, provides a vehicle for the most radical sort of transformation and healing. The reality, at least for me, is that the transformative process is not safe, waking up is not safe, and ultimately love itself is not safe; for it provides no solidity, no ground, and no support for egoic process. This is not to say that the experience of a safety is not part of what relationship offers; it often does. But if we choose intimacy as a path of awakening, then we must be willing to meet everything that is unresolved within us.
Sure, when we’re alone, it’s not so difficult to set things up to simulate a certain type of control, over our external world and even over our inner world if we become adept at certain spiritual practices. If something disturbing arises, or something which does not confirm our personal sense of identity, when alone, we can dissolve it back into the Absolute, back into God, back into space, give it all to the guru. We’ve gotten pretty good at that. You can hear intimacy chuckling. We come to see that the intimate life is not one that is all that concerned with our strategies of insulating ourselves from life, with the frenetic drive to be in some constructed “high” state of consciousness over some other “lower” one, with our desire to transcend everything that arises that we deem unspiritual or “lower,” and with our habitual movement toward ground and surety. We see that we don’t really get a life without disturbance if we want to wake up, and there’s nothing like intimacy to bring this realization home. When we allow the “other” into our world, we will never be the same.