A couple of years ago I began to look at my love life, as a single man, through the lens of a single father. I don’t actually have any flesh and blood children on this earth, but as I’d been delving deeper into the work of reclaiming and healing the disowned, traumatized, vulnerable (and beautiful) parts of myself, it gradually became more and more clear that there was something, or someone, very sacred within me - my inner child - who I was taking along into each and every romantic interaction I explored. That vulnerable, pure and sacred child required my conscious attention, empathy, protection and mentorship in all the ways an external, flesh-and-blood child would, and learning to listen to and honour his wisdom has allowed me to receive a taste of the riches that a profound parent-child relationship can give birth to.
The visual that I like to use for this dynamic is that of a love triangle - any potential partner I invite into my life isn’t really just entering into relationship with Miles, the adult guy who sometimes forgets what his truth is and might be prone to throwing his needs under the bus under the influence of someone’s alluring body or mind - they are entering into a relationship with me and my inner child - an amazing, brilliant, sensitive, essential, core aspect of myself that deserves an extraordinary level of integrity, respect, love and support. This part of me is my vulnerability, my tenderness, my purity. Its needs are sacred, even if sometimes layers of wounding and suppression can make it an art to decipher them clearly.
Like a polyamorous relationship (and this is about as close to polyamory as I personally get, as I’ve written about previously), in this love triangle any new partner has to be discussed with my primary partner - the inner child - before we move forward. As my primary partner, he’s the one whose needs come before all else, whose tenderness and vulnerability are sacred voices I must bend my ear to and bow down before in reverence. Essentially, he has to give me the green light as I navigate my love life. As bad as this might sound to a partner, I’m sorry, but his needs come first. This might smack of self absorption, but anything less and I am walking down the path towards (inner) child neglect and abuse.
Of course by learning to honour this part of me, I learn to completely honour it in others.
Let me be clear: Like many of you reading these words, I have been guilty of (inner) child neglect and (inner) child abuse that went on unabated for decades. I simply did not protect, validate or honour the needs or tenderness of what amounts to my essnetial vulnerability and purity, and nowhere was this more extreme than on the stage of my love life.
There I seemingly purposefully steered into situations what were wildly dangerous for an innocent child - relationships that were emotionally unsafe, replaying the same terrors and traumas that caused a split between my conscious self and my inner child in the first place. This is an edge that cuts both ways though - as easy as it may be to betray my inner child in this area, it’s also one of the clearest and most direct settings in which to validate, support, and resurrect my connection with him.
the sacred love triangle in action
I’d been chatting with a woman I’d met through an online dating site for a day or so when I suggested we talk on the phone. My new love interest wasn't keen on this prospect, however, and responded by suggesting we skip that formality and meet in person. My adult self thought this was a pretty reasonable suggestion - after all we’d already established an enormous amount of common ground in our interaction thus far.
As I was about to respond agreeing to meeting in person, however, a sinking feeling in my chest stopped me in my tracks. A part of me was not pleased - a part who’d gone on dates previously that were negative experiences, a part that I had actually promised I would protect in the future by always talking to a potential date on the phone, ensuring they were completely safe for us to engage with in this way. Once I tuned in, I felt my inner child overflowing with anger and sadness - feeling a deep sense of betrayal as I’d promised something (to properly screen dates and filter out the duds) and was on the verge of proving myself to be full of shit. He had every right to feel exactly what he was feeling, and as I owned what was happening, I realized there was no way I was going to throw him under the bus here.
So, I wrote this woman back and explained exactly what was happening in me. I said that although meeting in person sounded great on one level, I’d had some negative past experiences and as a result had promised a very pure part of myself that I would talk to potential dates beforehand in the future, as a way of taking care of myself.
It felt uncomfortable sending this message - like I was taking up more space than I’d been accustomed to, like I might actually scare this person off with my needs. The opposite was true. In fact, the response I got was one of massive enthusiasm and excitement that I’d actually shared my process. It made both of us much more excited about meeting.
The more that I think about it, when I listen to and give my inner child a voice, he has a way of bringing up the exact things that spark more intimacy, magic and realness into connections. His voice is a vitalizing force.
Later, as I continued interacting with this new potential partner, I took a moment to step back and feel out if there was anything my inner child needed me to ask them. The only thing that came up was: Do you believe that all life is magic?
On one level this might seem like an arbitrary question, but to this part of me, it’s essential. Because he’s still connected to magic (or divinity, or the sanctity of life), being around someone who is closed off to this is actually very destructive. If someone doesn’t believe in beauty and love and sanctity, his very nature is being rejected.
So I asked the question. And again, in doing so, the interaction was massively elevated.
There are of course circumstances in which this kind of sharing is met with rejection or neutrality, though the more wisely we choose who we open up with, the less likely this is.
As I mentioned above, I have found repeatedly that consciously bringing this part of me into the right connections is more likely to function like a heavenly tonic - not just healing my inner landscape and habitual patterns in very significant ways, but creating a sense of trust, respect, and true connection with those I am around. And, perhaps ironically, it’s by holding the hand of, protecting, mentoring and giving a voice to this most tender, vulnerable and pure part of me that my strength in this world is able to authentically develop and evolve. After all, how powerful or confident can a person really be if they don’t know how to feel into, give a voice to, and take care of their core needs?
So please, in the name of (inner) chid welfare, the next time you’re thinking of opening to a new person - or reflecting on a connection you already have in your life - check in with the little girl or boy in you and see what it is they are feeling, what it is they might be needing to say, to see or to understand. Turning towards this is tantamount to opening the gateway to heaven that exists inside of you.