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For at least half of my life I've had an extremely strong desire to be in a relationship/have a girlfriend and though I've tried, I've been unsuccessful and this has brought me tremendous suffering to the point where I almost committed suicide 2 years ago. I see couples in a similar age group as me every single day and this further increases my suffering. I first encountered Buddhism 2 years ago and through its teachings I've detached myself from the past and have removed my strong desire for material wealth and this indeed has removed a lot of suffering from my life, however, I just can't seem to let go of immense desire to have a girlfriend even after realizing that external circumstances never bring lasting happiness and fulfillment.

How can I let go of this destructive desire?

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What helped me tremendously distance myself is this: Contemplate the various advantages and disadvantages of having a girlfriend--particularly the one that you think you would get--not the dream-woman-that-you-have-to-be-on-a-certain-level-you-are-not-at-to-get.

For example, here is a personal list of benefits of celibacy:

  • Jing retention for transmutation into spiritual energy (chi, shen)
  • Time saved for spiritual and personal goals.
  • Money saved for spiritual and personal goals and fun.
  • Mental energy saved from all the headache and back and forth.
  • Social energy that can go into practical things like helping people or myself rather than feeding a woman's ego.
  • Less stress for managing a relationship... peace
  • Less stress about her cheating on me every day... peace

And disadvantages:

  • Lack of endorphins and excitement
  • Tactile loneliness
  • Social ignorance
  • Sexual ignorance
  • Intellectual ignorance about X

At this point you should have an overall idea if there is more advantage or disadvantage.

The last step is to FIND activities which address the disadvantages.

  • exercise
  • joining a sangha and doing social activities together
  • learning more more about female evolutionary psychology via videos/books (see Red Queen, Sperm Wars)
  • getting actual results of Buddha dharma

Lastly, I would say that it is best to pursue your path and not look for anything external because that external (i.e. girlfriend) when it comes to you "naturally" will be extremely well-matched for you (a great companion on your spiritual journey). Maybe it's because you started teaching or you were really successful and someone who values it took notice, etc.... let her find you.

Pursuing an un-ideal relationship would take you off the market and you might miss that girl of your dreams BECAUSE you were looking for her consciously and/or are with someone! Strange, isn't it? The best thing may be to be celibate until hotly pursued by someone well-matched. If it doesn't happen and you put all your 100% effort into the benefits list... then not much is lost! But had you done the opposite... you will regret the sexual life for maybe eons or however long you think until you are a human and above with Buddhadharma.

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A lot of people use Buddhism and spirituality in general as means to escape their suffering. They see the dharma as a panacea for their problems. While the Buddha is quite clear that his path is one leading towards the end of anguish and dissatisfaction, what a lot of people miss is that in order for us to arrive there, we are going to have to confront those issues that drove us to the Buddha-dharma in the first place.

Rather than running towards the dharma, it sounds an awful lot like you are trying to runaway from your obstacles. Diving headlong into your practice may provide you with some temporary relief, but when the samadhi ends and you come off your cushion, those issues will bounce back up like bamboo shaken free of snow. At some point, you are going to have to confront these issues. You are going to have to ask yourself a number of difficult questions about yourself, your relationship history, and even why you came to the dharma in a hope to resolve them. Meditation will help you see these obstacles from a different perspective, but they will remain your obstacles. And they are going to have to be confronted and addressed before your practice can evolve.

  • Thanks for your reply. How can I confront this issue in particular? – Hamza Khan Mar 8 '17 at 23:38
  • This issue is no different than any other. Sit, go into samadhi, then apply your concentrated mind to what comes up. I would strongly caution you against trying to "solve" a particular issue of your choosing, however. It's best to work with what arises on it's own rather than force an issue. Our obstacles are related to each other in very complicated ways. Some are deep, some superficial. Some are symptoms, others are causes. Figuring out which is which is the beauty and the challenge of practice. – user698 Mar 9 '17 at 13:36
  • I also think that you may want to rethink your approach to the dharma. Buddhism isn't a collection of solutions to various problems. That would be very intellectual and ultimately very ineffective. Changing the mind is temporary and superficial. You really need to be working with the heart. – user698 Mar 9 '17 at 13:41
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In a nutshell. Buddhism is not about removing desires. It's about recognising what is present in any given moment and then responding skillfully or in a wholesome way so as not to cause suffering. You are human, you have and will continue to have desires.

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    Thanks for the reply. In what way would you recommend me to respond skillfully or in a wholesome way to this particular desire? – Hamza Khan Mar 8 '17 at 23:40
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    Hi Hamza, sorry for late reply. Notice the way your mind reacts. You want to cling to the pleasant and push away the unpleasant. but we cannot cling to things because nothing lasts. The more we cling the more we suffer. The more we try to rid ourselves of something that is present the more we suffer. You have a very natural human desire to be close to another person, to connect and share a bond. It is hard wired. If at this moment in your life you do not want a relationship then don't try to get rid of the feelings but instead just notice when they are there and accept them with compassion. – Arturia Apr 2 '17 at 20:44
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Hope i will be able to help....or hopefully someone else can chip in to be able to unlock the tied knot in your heart....but hope you don't get devastated whatever it is.

First...as a buddhist....you should be able to accept the theory everything happened for a reason. Causes and effects.

Couple or people get together according to their own karma link. As of now....your partner may have not arrived. Maybe they will come a later stage....and perhap this is a blessing in disguise for you.

If you can minimise your desire for wealth( or did you just give up because it is not practical?, note that these are two different things)...you should be able to minimise your desire for a partner using the same method. Unless your way of minimising the desired is wrong but perceived that you had done it successfully...then you need to revisit the method again...

Chanting and meditation is the only way to help you end all suffering.

First.. Chanting with great mindfulness allow your mind to be focus, pure and thus able to radiate loving kindness(good wishes) to all beings. This will bring more affinity with others. Perhap in your past lives you had been a monk or priest with no desired for love...thus it does not create a karma link with the opposite sex. There are more other reasons....but dwelling into that won't help...so lets move on below...

Meditation train your brain to be less disturbed when you encounter all undesired situation(such as your case )....many says it don't works and it only works during that half to one hr of practise..and once you are off meditation and confronted with situation...it is still easy to get frustrated.......so my question is? How often do you meditate? How long do you meditate ea time? Since when you start meditate? If you only started few years back and meditated 10 -15 mins every day or sometime skipped...then how do you attain peace easily? So how much is enough? I won't and will not answer this question. Why? Cos everyone are borne with different stage of mindfulness(ability to focus ) during their birth and thus everyone progress will be different....even buddha in his last birth takes years to meditate, and go thru all the suffering before total wisdom arised and able to share his discourse. So you sure you have practise correctly and successfully.

Note that desired come from inner heart and only self help will help with good advise from anyone ( your affinity).

Regards.

  1. When the ear hear noise, thought arises and thus is good /bad feeling. So how? Stop the noise at the ear.(acknowledge sound, sound, sound...)
  2. When the eye see form, thought arises and thus is good/bad feeling. Stop the sighting at the eye.(acknowledge seeing, seeing, seeing...).
  3. When the nose smell thing....etc etc
  4. When the tongue taste thing....etc etc...
  5. When the body feel thing ....etc etc.... When it is too late and the sensation get into the heart (mind )...acknowledge whatever the feeling, sensation is...and let it go....it will take many practises before it become a habit and thus easy to end unnecessarily suffering arised.
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Try satipattana sutta (meditation) and apply it to yourself and others.

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Maybe it's good to have friends and to be a friend.

Some forms of Buddhism put more emphasis than others, on the benefits and virtues of companionship. The Dalai Lama for example says things like:

From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.

The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes.

I recommend you read that whole article.

I'm sorry if this only makes you more unhappy (about not "having someone to love"); I post it in case your "destructive desire" is mis-placed. Perhaps it could be a wholesome desire.


Also, you're presumably right that "external circumstances never bring lasting happiness".

Even so, perhaps there are Buddhist recommendations about how to look for a marriage partner: see for example here.

I say that because if you will continue to desire a girlfriend, it might help you to know what qualities to look for.

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