Highest Self Podcast 495: Why Love Is So Difficult – And How It Can Not Be with Rainier Wylde


Lately, I have found myself fascinated by the topic of love – the most basic yet complex human emotion. Even beyond emotions, it’s a vibration and a lens through which we see life. Love is my number one core value. And it is the thing we all want most in life.

This week on Highest Self Podcast I had the honor to sit down with fellow writer, teacher, poet, and coach, Rainier Wylde to explore what it means to be the true embodiment of love, how to give a receive it, and WHY it can also be the most difficult thing to find and keep.

We discuss the inevitable ending of every love story, polyamorous relationships, the philosophy and mystery of love, the natural death and rebirth cycles of life, and SO much more.

I hope this episode cracks your heart wide open like it did for me. Whether you are dating, married, divorced, widowed, or single – this episode is for you because love is a universal language that we all know and can benefit from understanding on it’s deepest level. Enjoy!

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Episode #495: Why Love Is So Difficult – And How It Can Not Be with Rainier Wylde
By Sahara Rose

[00:00] Sahara

It’s almost like we’ve gotten to this other extreme of like, any form of romance, or affection, or desiring to merge, is seen as co-dependent, and bad, and wrong.

[00:11] Rainier

Oh, I’m like you. And you know, I spent my 20s being a sad-eyed singer of songs for lovers. And I’ve got to be honest, that’s still where my heart is, I’m a romantic at heart. I do think that there is something that is a larger cultural motif, and one of those things is, that when all the talking points, that when it’s very difficult to talk to one another, that statistics or pragmatics become the law of the land.

And I think that we are so, it’s so difficult to actually communicate with each other because everything is a pressure cooker, yeah, there’s so much water under every communication that I think we kind of speak in pragmatics. Love has sort of devolved into a very transactional thing, I think it’s reduced love to kind of like a grocery store, market place mentality, it’s like “I’m craving some food, I might go down to the grocery store and get some soup”.

[01:04] Sahara

Right, swipe on an app.

[01:06] Rainier


[01:07] Sahara

Instead of, you know, writing someone a sonnet, they just send a fire emoji.


[01:21] Sahara

Hi, it’s Sahara Rose and welcome back to The Highest Self Podcast, a place where we discuss what makes you, your soul’s highest evolvement. 

[01:29] Sahara

I have been fascinated by love. Love is one of the most basic, yet complex, human emotions, and beyond an emotion, it really is a vibration, it’s a consciousness, it’s a lens of seen life. It is my number one core value and it is the thing that I think we all want most in life.

[01:51] Sahara

You know, we all want to live as the embodiment of love and we want that love reflected back to us from another person, but why is it the most difficult thing to find and keep? And, you know, it feels like this constant yearning, this constant grappling, and sometimes I question, maybe that’s just the way it’s meant to be designed.

[02:13] Sahara

So, in my own journey of navigating divorce, of heartbreak, and heart opening, and questioning my childhood, and my ancestry, and how it all played a role into this, and it’s also shown me the beauty, and the art, and the poetry that happens, because with every love story, it is an inevitable love ending. And when you can see them as two ends of the same spectrum of feeling, we get to feel, we get to be alive, we invite it all in.

[02:45] Sahara

So, I am excited for today’s Podcast guest because it is someone that I found in my own journey through Instagram, and his poetry, and his words really just spoke to me and we became Instagram friends and now he’s here on the Podcast.

[02:59] Sahara

So, Rainier really is a philosopher of love and I’m excited to have this conversation today. I have some of his words and quotes that have really resonated with me, but we’re going to remain open to the mystery of what love wants to speak with us here today.

[03:16] Sahara

So, let’s welcome Rainier, to The Highest Self Podcast. 


[03:20] Sahara


[03:20] Rainier

Thank you, I’m really happy to be here!

[03:22] Sahara

Yay! And the first question I would love to ask you is, what makes you your highest self?

[03:28] Rainier

What a great question! I think it’s a lot like love actually. Whenever I’m opening, whenever I’m expanding or deepening, widening. What did Rilke say? “I live my life in widening circles”. And I think whenever I sense that, whenever I step into that place – the opposite of that is when I’m closing, which is like fear, which is like erecting those walls of fear, that’s my least highest self, but I think that opening, that core value of love, that really is my highest sense, yeah.

[04:06] Sahara

Love is really why we’re here! And I love your reflections, I’ve written some of them down and I want to go through them.

So, you wrote, essentially, “Committing quickly in romance, is also having commitment issues. For some, it may be safer to jump into a relationship than to be in the slow, ambiguous process of growing slowly and getting to know someone deeply over time. And that creating fantasies, sharing extensive intimate details, constantly communicating, requiring relational labels very quickly is a symptom of insecurity”. And that really resonated with me because it took me back to my early 20s, when I was this person of like “Oh my god, we’re in love and it’s forever”, and that’s the way that we’re trained, the Disney movies, you know, and if it’s the one, you know instantly, and it just feels right. So, can you expand on this? Like, how can this actually be related to our insecurity and why is it more beneficial to allow this slow and ambiguous process to happen, even when, like, when our hearts want to merge?

[05:13] Rainier

Let’s not look at love for a moment, let’s just look at life. As a species, I think we’re really, really poor at sitting with ambiguity. We crave, especially in our modern age, certainty, we need it. And in part, that reflects the chaos of the world around us. The world is so incredibly chaotic. 

So, I think, as individuals, our need for certitude is so much higher, perhaps, than it’s ever been. We’re looking, I think, rather desperately, everywhere for something like certainty, and when we become unstable, or weak, or wobbly, suddenly, we begin to cling, we begin to reach out for anything, a rope, leading up from the pit, somehow, into love, right? A lot of us are love junkies, right? We want that next fix that will make us feel good, feel wonderful, so we keep reaching for it, we keep trying to have it. 

But here’s the problem. The first stages of love are so damn uncertain that the very thing we’re reaching for tends to make us feel even more weak and wobbly, and so, we’re really stuck in a dilemma there. 

So, I think a lot of us, myself included, it’s not relegated to my early 20s, I’d love to say that it was way back then, but man, I resemble this. And when I find that that lack of certainty, when I find that shakiness inside of me, the thing I want to do more that almost anything, is to solidify the connection, “Please, make this forever, make this real so that my ambiguity will end”, yeah.

The problem is, we turn a person, this other person, who we’re now in love with, we turn them into an object, an object to satiate our need for certitude, so they cease being a real person, yeah.

[07:12] Sahara

I’m laughing because in my own, now, single journey, it’s like being awake within a dream. I’ve done all this healing work and all this awareness, so, like, I notice the patterns and then I’m, like, psychoanalyzing myself in the patterns and it’s exactly that, of like, you know, for me, being single for the first time since I was 24 years old, so it’s like this desire to, like, find someone else and be in partnership and to get out of this ambiguity of not knowing. But then I see my friends in relationships and then there’s the ambiguity of “Are we girlfriend and boyfriend?”, and the ambiguity of “Is he proposing?”, and then “When is the wedding?”, and then “When are we having kids?”. If we stay in that state of consciousness, there’s always going to be this insecurity that we’re anxious about and we’re always yearning for something else outside of us to take us out of this void that is life.

[08:00] Rainier

Yeah. There is nothing that takes away the risk of being alive. And I think that part of learning how to be good at relating, is learning how to sit with your own uncertainty, learning how to sit with that ambiguity that we’re talking about.

I think of, I’m now married a second time, for 12 years almost, and I think of this person who I’ve woken up next to for some thousand days, you know, I don’t know the math on this, but I think of how many days we’ve woken up next to one another, and I’ve looked over and I’ve smelled her smelly breath, and she’s smelled mine, and we’ve memorized each other, we know each other like the back of our own hands, and then something truly surprising happens. This happened to me about a year ago, I looked over and she was reading a book, she was buried, engrossed in it and I thought “Huh, well, she must think that’s really interesting” and a little bit later that day, she was carrying around a different book and she was walking through the halls holding a book and I said “Well, that’s funny, she’s going to trip and fall”, and then later that day I see her walking around with a different book and I think to myself “Who is this reader? I’ve never seen this woman before, she doesn’t read, who is this stranger?” 

And so, suddenly, now, I’m having to deal with the uncertainty of not knowing who I’m in relationship with. And I think that’s hilarious because I think that’s where a lot of relationships end. I look over to the person and say “I don’t know you anymore”, but that’s the exciting thing too. So, again, how we sit with uncertainty is what defines our ability to be good at relating itself.

[09:40] Sahara

And to not wait for that person, that label, anything outside of us, to give us certainty. And you touched upon something else that you had a quote around, which is the projections that we have around people. 

So, you said “Most of our relationships are just stories about our relationships”. So, how are we, often, just assigning people a character, in our play of life vs. actually getting to know who that person is?

[10:09] Rainier

I think we do that rather constantly. I don’t, so much, think we have stories as much as, I think, stories have us. I think that stories, myths, are kind of in the ether. They’re like these rain clouds outside your window here. I think that we step out into them and we get wet, we think we’re very unique, but really, it’s raining on all of us. And we make exchanges in these stories, we, kind of, say “Oh, okay, I’ll play that part, that sounds pretty good”, and so we sign up for them.

And I think, in my own life, how I signed up for a few story lines. I signed up for rogue prints, my father was a king and I become the prince who turns his back on the black sheep. Well, now that I’m that particular role, I’m need a counterpart, I need someone who will play opposite me. It’s kind of like if I get cast in a movie as Bruce Wayne, Batman, suddenly, now, I have to recruit for Alfred the butler. 

We get so good at the roles we assign ourselves, that we now have to recruit others to play opposite of us. And here’s the thing, it doesn’t mean that we find people who are that, we’ll draft someone for fit and train them how to be that part on the moment right there, right? On the job training happens all the time in relationship, we reinforce or punish people to behave in certain ways. 

I think that there comes a moment when you start to realize you’ve been replaying the same stories over and over and over, and it becomes profoundly disinteresting.

What’s disinteresting isn’t the person you’re playing across from, it’s disinteresting the role you’ve become and you start to say “Ahh, I’ve been playing the same part over and over”.

[12:02] Sahara

It’s fascinating! You know, I wonder, sometimes, if we’re choosing these people to play out these roles or if we’re just playing them out and the person just has to become the counterpart as a result?

[12:13] Rainier

We cast them, literally. And I think, not so much in terms of like a script or a casting call, I think in terms of like a broken arm that gets casted and then it reforms, it becomes a new shape.

And I think we kind of create these external feedback loops with the people we’re in relationship with so they know not to do this or they get praised for saying that. And pretty soon they learn, they learn how to behave in relationship to us. So, you know, I think the question how often are we in relationship with us, I think it’s the majority of our relationships.

[12:48] Sahara

When do you think, in a relationship, we drop the stories and roles and actually get to know each other?

[12:54] Rainier

Usually, at the point when most people call it quits. 

[12:56] Sahara


[12:58] Rainier

I tend to find that when the fantasy fades, is when real love is possible. It’s also when most people hang up the towel. I know I certainly have, in a lot of relationships. And I think that what it has taught me, inevitably, is that we’re so addicted to our masks, I mean, we fall in love with each other’s masks and we collude. In fact, I would say that so much of our relationships are simply collusion projects where we both kind of agree that “I’ll pretend and you’ll pretend and I’ll pretend that you’re not pretending and if you get out of line a little, I’m going to punish you, and if I get out of line, I want you to remind me who I really am, which is the mask that I’ve shown you”, you know, we get very interesting like that. 

And I think when it all comes crashing down, we suddenly have a choice. So, collusion becomes disillusionment. And maybe that’s like we’re fed up they don’t do the dishes, you know, it’s like “God, they’re a horrible roommate, can you believe this pig?”, or whatever.

For me it was the case of infidelity. I think that there was a moment in my life when the character I had been, suddenly was revealed, right. We go through life and we have these flip sides, light and shadows, right? And as the high as the skyscraper of our ego is, the light side of us, the basement goes equally low into the ground, the shadows.

And I think that, for me, that other side was right there, it was largely in the form of acting out with other people. I had not been faithful to a single partner I had had since I was, I think, 16 years old. Later I would realize that I didn’t know how to keep agreements, I didn’t know how to keep agreements with myself, I didn’t know how to keep agreements with others. And what I didn’t know was that I was doing an immense amount of damage. So, I would run damage control thinking that if they didn’t know, it didn’t affect them. Of course, this isn’t true, all the feelings are in the field, they know. And one day, the illusions came crushing down, circumstances congealed in such a way where I suddenly had a choice to make. Either I was going to tell my partner that I had been unfaithful or I was going to keep lying, that’s always a great option. I think most of us are like “Ah, minimize the damage, fantastic”. In that moment, I recognized that my choice was to become a real self, I was so tired of being pretend, a half-life, and I knew that if there was a chance, if there was a chance to do as what Maslow calls actualizing, to become actual, not just a possibility, not just a potential, but to become actual, it would be through authenticity, it would be through honesty. And so, I ended up telling my partner that I had been unfaithful. 

The fallout of that was tremendous, but it also was a tremendous gift. I think, today, we would say to both of us, we had both been pretending. And so, what happened in the aftermath isn’t a guarantee for anybody, obviously. Her decisions that she made within that were her decisions based upon her own criteria, but we decided to look at one another as the real selves that we were. And in those moments, it gave us the gift of truly being in connection with a real person.

[16:28] Sahara

And it’s often when the relationship ends and there’s nothing left to lose that you’re finally honest, because you’re not trying to uphold this fantasy or even relationship, it’s like, there’s just nothing at stake so let me just be real. 

And I’ve noticed that even in my own, you know, after the divorce, or even just after deciding that we’re going to have a divorce, that it was – we were the most honest we’ve ever been, taking walks, just really speaking our hearts to each other, we were just like “Wow, imagine if we had started the relationship like this, you know?” 

And for us it was just, we weren’t on the same page anymore, but it’s like, I think the reason why we don’t start relationships like that is because we’re so afraid of losing the other, that if I let it all hang out, will you still choose me? So instead, let me try to be the version of me that I think you are starting to fall in love with and keep that going. But it always comes crashing down at the end.

[17:24] Rainier

Yeah. You know, it’s like, I get invited to a party on Friday night, I put on my mask, you get invited to the same party, you put on your mask. Two masks meet, right? And what we’re profoundly committed to is to make sure the other person doesn’t see under the mask. 

And so, you know, it’s like, we meet each other in our sleep, we get married in our sleep, then one day we wake up and we go “Who the hell is this?”, right? And that’s the opportunity, and it is a gift.

I think that for so many of us, the consequences of those moments, the fallout, the damage, is so intense and so deeply traumatic that it’s almost unimaginable to go on with that. We also have a lot of ego involved.

I used to be a real estate agent and I was a really miserable real estate agent, I was not very good at selling houses, as it turns out. But I remember this one moment where I told the potential seller how much her house was worth, let’s just say I told her it was worth $300k and she was offended, she said “No, absolutely not! My house is worth, we’ll say $400k”, and I say “Well, let’s try it. Let’s try it your way”, and she says “Great, thank you. Finally, I’ll hire you”. So, we market it at $400k, guess what, no calls, no bids, no offers, so I say to her “Hey, why don’t we market down a little bit?”, she says “Oh, I don’t like that idea at all”, and she throws a tantrum and eventually agrees to lower it $20k. Well, this goes back and forth, and she’s way overpriced. Finally, we get to $350k and she says “No more, no more”, and we’ve argued back and forth, and finally we get to $350k and she says “You’re to blame, you’re a bad realtor, I’m cutting it, goodbye!”, and that’s great. A couple months later, I see her house has sold, you know what it sold for? $300k! Somebody else came in after me and did the thing I’d been talking about the whole time. Why? What prevented her from going with that idea? She had ego involved, she had to protect being right, yeah. And I think that’s how it works. We get so determined to be right, to hold our position, that this other person, who has hurt us or has done something we don’t approve of, or whatever those things are, we can’t imagine going down that road with them, we’ll do it with someone else, yeah, but not them.

[19:49] Sahara

Yeah. And also, I think, some lessons you have to learn them through another person. It’s like, you planted the seed of that lesson, of, the house is $300k, or someone might plant the seed of relationships are built on honest communication or whatever the thing is, and it’s like, they didn’t get to play that out in that relationship, bbut now it’s like, I’m sure – I’m curious, for you, from your first to second marriage, what were the lessons that you learned going into it and how did it shape you?

[20:17] Rainier

Yeah. You know, it’s so interesting, I think after that first marriage, I was 19 years old when I got married and I think I was on a head-long dash to become an adult, to be responsible and respectable, to earn my father’s approval, my mother’s approval.

It’s so funny, I look back, I think my mother said to me, the night before my wedding, she said “And if you choose, at the altar, to walk away, I will support you”, and I think back that maybe she was giving me a signal there, but I wouldn’t have listened anyway. 

I think that one of the lessons, one of the great lessons I learned was that love is actually not unconditional, that relationships, in fact, require relating. If you’re an adult and you’re in relationship, that person you’re in relationship to is not mommy or daddy, and they’re not the sky father or mother, they are a human who has needs and boundaries of self. So, I think you can’t behave like a character in someone’s back novel and expect that someone else is going to show up for you in an indefinite amount of time. And that was a powerful and disheartening lesson for me. And it would probably take years before that crescendoed into my life.


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[24:57] Sahara

“Relationships take relating”, let’s talk about that. I think, often, we think if we find the right relationship, it will all just work, the problem is, I just haven’t found the one, it must just not be this one. And I see this, like, balance that’s needed between freedom and relating, you know.

And I think a lot of our generation, people today, we desire a lot of freedom, right? We want to be able to travel, we want to be able to work, and then, also, with social media, we’re seeing all these different people in these different realities and these different things so most of us are like “I don’t want to be like my parents who are just living in the same house for years, same job, same routine, same person”, so we want freedom, But then, we might go so much towards the freedom that there’s not enough relating and building and that glue that really keeps the relationship going. So, how do we find the balance between that?

[25:57] Rainier

That’s a great question and I think you’re really describing the paradox of love, how to be a self in relationship to another. The heart of that is, I think, a working definition of love. Now, I say a working definition, because if I’m a philosopher of love, one thing is, we’re family committed not to do what so many other great philosophers have done before me, which is to put constructs to it.

Love is, I think, the most profound of all emotions and emotional processe, and it defies definition. As soon as you try to nail it to the wall, it weasels out of your grip. What I would say is that, somehow or another, love is the willful expansion of oneself, or redefinition of oneself in the light of another.

Think about it, we refine the boundaries of self when we meet the other, we don’t ever stay so much a solitary self, actually, that’s one of the beautiful reasons why we wear masks in the first place or why we have these heady, delightful ecstatic encounters, we have to, otherwise we’d sit on the couch at home, we’d sit in our, relatively comfortable isolation. We have to be motivated to get out of the bed and walk across the island and see someone. We’re so motivated when we have to be. And in that expansion, we do lose something. We do lose our solitariness, we lose a bit of that freedom, but if we lose too much, then we abandon self altogether. 

And so, love requires a self to expand and one to expand too, it’s a sender and receiver, it’s a breath in and breath out, it really has to have both. Without a defined self, you won’t actually have a love, you require a beloved and a lover, yeah.

[27:55] Sahara

“You require a beloved and a lover”.

[27:58] Rainier

Yeah. You can’t lose yourself in connection, but that is, of course, everything that love wants us to do. 

And so, I think so much of the ebb and flow of love is losing oneself and finding oneself over, and over, and over. Losing the other and finding them over, and over. And maybe that is the mystery and the gift of long-term partnerships, perhaps, that they do give us the ability to take a long arch.

[28:28] Sahara

But do you think, maybe, just the way love is designed is, you are just supposed to just lose yourself into that, at least at the beginning until the natural separation starts? It’s almost like an infant who just is one with their mother and then starts to walk and want to do its own thing.

I find that in relationship, that happens, it’s like, the beginning, when you’re really falling for someone so you just want to merge.

[28:51] Rainier


[28:52] Sahara

But then, after, you know, a few years, then, you, kind of, separate and sometimes it’s even hard to keep that merging feeling, is that by design? It feels counter-intuitive when all parts of you want to merge to be like “No, remain separate, set boundaries, only see them once a week, don’t respond to their texts”, like, that feels so counter-intuitive, like, I don’t know, is that the healthy way of long-term, sustainable love?

[29:14] Rainier

Well, probably a lot like you. I have spent most of my life trying to merge with the soul across the table from me, at times with beautiful, and at times with disastrous results.

I guess, one of the moments I’m thinking of is, I’m a 6-year-old boy and I’m standing on the playground with Lisa, oh god, Lisa, she was…

[29:38] Sahara

Good old Lisa.

[29:39] Rainier

In a rainbow, puffy vest in the 80s, it was so delightful, I can still remember that vest. And I loved her and her bowl haircut and her blond hair. And she looked at me and said “I really like your marbles”, and she actually met my marbles, my steelies, my cat’s eyes, my marbles, and I said “Oh, you like them, do you?”, and she said “I do”, and I said “Would you like one?” So, I gave her one and she was very happy about this, and I was so happy that Lisa was happy. The next day, I brought my bag of marbles and Lisa said “Did you bring your marbles again?”, I said “I did, would you like one?” Now, this went on for about two weeks, before I reached for that bag and I didn’t have any marbles left, Lisa had all of them. And I think that that is such a beautiful picture of how we give ourselves away. Really, and I think of a 6-year-old boy doing that, yeah. And so much of our life, certainly mine, has been spent over and over giving my treasures away, in the hopes that they’ll love me.

I think there’s a difference between that natural inclination to merge and that abandonment of self, there is a separation. But I like what you’re saying and I think what it hints at is a life cycle to love, that love is actually an organic thing. It’s born, it goes through angry adolescence, it grows up, it matures, it takes work and effort into the reality principle, it gets old, it grows sick and it even dies. The life cycle of love includes death, just like life. The only thing that love doesn’t include is the lack of love. Love will include endings, but not…

[31:34] Sahara

It can include strong feelings of hate too.

[31:37] Rainier

Absolutely! Yeah! And I think we probably need to normalize hard conversations and difficult, unwanted emotions, yeah, we tend to bow out when those come up.

[31:49] Sahara

I’m such a romantic person, I’m like, I live my life in a state of romance and I’m like “Why is our society not valuing romance anymore?” 

But I wonder if we have become so hurt from love that it’s almost like “Why put in the effort and get my heart broken?”, that we’ve abandoned ourselves from even this – I notice this generation doesn’t even want love, you know. It’s like these friends with benefits, situationships, all of these ways to have physical intimacy without any heart or emotional connection because that’s too scary. And, I mean, you could look at that perspective of, there’s a lot of individuation in that, that people don’t want to abandon themselves. I think they probably had earlier in life and they just don’t want to go there, but it’s almost like we’ve gone to this other extreme of like, any form of romance, or affection, or desiring to merge is seen as, like, co-dependent and bad and wrong. 

So, yeah, I’m curious, your perspective on that and romance in this 21st century digital age?

[32:53] Rainier

Oh, I’m like you. And, you know, I spent my 20s being a sad-eyed singer of songs for lovers, and I’ve got to be honest, that’s still where my heart is, I’m a romantic at heart.

I do think that there is something that is a larger cultural motif. And one of those things is, that when all the talking points, when it’s very difficult to talk to one another, that statistics or pragmatics become the law of the land. And I think that it’s so difficult to actually communicate with each other because everything is a pressure cooker, yeah, there’s so much water under every communication, that I think that we kind of speak in pragmatics. Love has, sort of, devolved into a very transactional thing. I think it’s reduced love to, kind of, like a grocery store, market place mentality, you know, it’s like “I’m craving some food, I’m going to go down to the grocery store and get some soup”.

[33:45] Sahara

Right, swipe on an app.

[33:47] Rainier


[33:47] Sahara

Instead of, you know, writing someone a sonnet, they just send a fire emoji.

[33:51] Rainier

Oh my gosh! I don’t even know what those emojis mean, I struggle sometimes.

[33:56] Sahara

Fire is the ‘it’s going down’. 

[33:59] Rainier

Well, I think that with all of these things, the thing to remember is, it is a balance. We did go through this explosion of, I think, mystical love, just heart on sleeve love. And I think the counter-balance of that is pragmatism. 

I like to think that everything works in cycles and will come around again. And part of my deep hope as we grow closer and closer together, as a species, which is happening, because the global village is getting tighter knit as more and more of us exist. I think that one of the things we’re going to have to do is get real serious about talking.

You know, Henry Miller, who is an author, he said something really interesting that’s, kind of, inspired my imagination lately, he said “What if one hour a week, everyone stopped what they were doing, everyone stopped working, stopped playing and looked at one another, really looked at one another and said ‘What’s going on in your life?” And of course, Mary Oliver says “Tell me of your despair, I’ll tell you of mine”, that right there is the basis of all romantic love, listening to one another. And I think in the noise of this world, we don’t have time to listen, we’re so busy talking. And so, I think it’s hard to be lovers if we’re not listeners, you know.

[35:20] Sahara

And we think that that lover wants us to be perfect, us to be this, us to be that. So, I notice people are spending the time just talking about themselves when really everyone just wants to be met.

[35:32] Rainier

That’s right. Well, and part of my tribe is responsible for this problem. I think therapeuticism, as an industrial complex, is a bit of a blight on the world, and part because I think that it demands a certain kind of naval gazing, right, “Me, mine, what’s going on with me, what’s going on with my inner child?” I think, far more important than talking about our inner children is how our inner children grow up and become willing and participatory adults in life. 

I think that a lot of us spend one plus hour a week sitting in chairs, in a room, where we can be petulant children, when we really need to be thinking “How can I take responsibility in life for my decisions?”, that would be a far better, I think, end. 

[36:18] Sahara

Yeah, and they say there’s these, I don’t know, how many questions that you could ask someone that makes you fall in love. Have you heard of this? 

[36:24] Rainier


[36:25] Sahara

It’s like a certain number of questions, I’m not sure, maybe 80 or so questions, specific ones, and they’ve, like, scientifically proven that any two people, if they answer these questions and listen to each other, will fall in love.

[36:38] Rainier

I want to say bust it out, but I don’t want to run the risk.

[36:42] Sahara

I don’t want to ruin your marriage now! But it’s true that we really could fall in love with each other because there’s that same beauty, that same hope, like. And I’ve noticed with myself, with my heart open, of like, I just love everyone in this way that before, it was like, maybe they had to play a role in my life or is this a friend, is this that, and when you just open yourself to love, it’s like, the cashier that, even, you just notice things about your friends and you’re not as guarded anymore.

And I think, often, what happens in relationship is, we actually get guarded from love because we’re so afraid of, like, what could that mean. You know, I knew for myself, when I was in relationship, I had no guy friends at all because it wasn’t worth it to me to potentially make him jealous, it was just like “I don’t need guy friends, I’m good with my girls”, and now I’m like, there’s just a whole other wealth of information and contemplation that comes from just having guy friends. But I think a lot of us are afraid of “I don’t know, I just don’t want to cross the line”, so then we close ourselves off.

[37:49] Rainier

That’s right, yeah. And again, I think you’re pointing to that. If love is opening, then the opposite of it, closing, is really fear. Fear and love are on these opposite polar spectrums and the moment we step into those places of fear, we close ourselves off to love. And so, I think that the mechanism for love is always opening. And I think whenever you open, the most surprising things happen, love can occur in the least of expected places. 

I’m thinking of a person who wrote to me a couple years back and she said “Can I tell you a story?”, and she told me this beautiful story of her working in a jewelry shop, in a large, kind of, box store, and she would sell jewelry every day. And sometimes there would be a theft and she’d have to call loss prevention. And there was a voice on the other end of that line and the voice would answer, and there was something so reassuring about the way he would ask the questions that eventually she’d invent reasons. Now, she was married at the time, a marriage that was by any accounts loveless, and she found herself discovering, in spite of herself, that she was falling in love with a voice. They never talked about anything, they never went beneath the surface, until one day, when he simply risked a question.

[39:25] Sahara

I guess he was feeling it too.

[39:27] Rainier

I think so, loss prevention. He interrupted the moment and said “Are you happy?”, she said it cut her like a knife and she knew not that she had fallen in love with this man, but she knew she had to end her marriage. I think that one of the gifts of listening is loving, god, and then creating a safe environment where those radical truths can simply become self-evident. 

In my own life, I’m thinking about sitting across from the woman who would become my wife, and we were just friends, and she sat across from me and she began to ask about my childhood. She had the advantage, she was a therapist at the time and I was only a student struggling to figure out how to be a therapist, so she knew what she was doing, she was creating an exceptional moment for me. And she would say “Oh, wow, that must’ve been really hard for you”, she gave all those really great reflective validations, and I noticed something, as she asked more and more and more about childhood, growing up. I looked across the table, a dimly lit room, and I saw tears streaming down her face, and I wasn’t so concerned about what I was sharing, I wasn’t so sad about the details of the life that I was providing her, but in this mirrored moment, she sat there crying. And I looked over at her, this beautiful woman with a beaming face, but now is covered in a mask of sadness, and I said “What’s wrong?”, and she said “Well, it’s just really sad”, and I think it hit me, for the first moment, that what I was describing was actually sad. I’d become so used to my own life.

So, the gift of love is that it mirrors back to us those things that we’ve kept hidden from ourselves, yeah.

[41:18] Sahara

And then it makes it feel so much more real.

[41:21] Rainier

Yeah. And then we get the opportunity to make changes, right? Because we see those things. Before, we could ignore them, before, we could hide from them, but now, oh my god, now, yeah.

[41:34] Sahara

Do you think that we are, in some sort of subconscious way, choosing the person to play out our unhealed childhood wounds with? Or do you think they’re just going to play out regardless of who’s in front of us?

[41:47] Rainier

So, I like to think of myself as a pragmatist. Even my definition of love involves a subtle, not of the hat, towards will and…

[41:58] Sahara

What is your definition of love?

[41:59] Rainier

That willful expansion of oneself in the light of another. It really does boil down to a choice, it’s a choosing that happens. Now, love is an emotion, is a complex emotion, is convergence of feeling, sensation, physiological sensation, thought, fantasies, imagination and also a choice of what to do with it all. But there’s openness. 

Now, your question, say that question again.

[42:25] Sahara

Are we choosing the people, subconsciously, to play out our unhealed childhood traumas or are they just going to be played out regardless of who’s in front of us?

[42:34] Rainier

Again, I’ve always thought of myself as very pragmatic here. But I have to admit something, I have to admit that my wife and I have the exact birthdays of my grandparents, that she has my grandfather’s birthday and I have my grandmother’s. And there’s an oddity to that story. Not only that, but she grew up in a home, in an environment, that is the perfect opposite mirror of my own, that all of the emotions that I carry, she seems to hold their opposite, she’s the lock to my key, or vice versa. The more we talk about it, and sometimes we’ll talk about it, and we’ll go “This is creepy, this is strange, how this plays out”, her ancestors were a mere two hours from mine, we’re talking five generations back in the old country. How is this possible? Is this possible that, generationally, over time, we sought each other out, oh, we get very mystical, oh, we get very interesting about that. But I think that what you asked is at the heart of it, that we felt something, undeniable, our nervous systems felt something. And I think what they felt was the opportunity to heal, not only our wounds, but the wounds of many of those who had gone before us. And that is actually the reason we chose to stay. We looked at one another in the face of this disillusionment and we said “What if love can be a hospital in this moment, where we heal our wounds? Can we be that for each other?”, and I think that was the gift we decided we can give each other in that way.

So, I do think it’s unconscious, it’s an unconscious attempt to perhaps retraumatize each other and then heal each other, but I think it can become unconscious and that’s when it becomes powerful.

[44:20] Sahara

Do you think, then, because it comes from trauma bonding, right? So, do you think then, when we become unconscious and aware of our triggers, then we no longer are attracted to the person, to relive these traumas, or do you think that’s actually what relationships are fore? They’re for healing, and it’s not to have an easy relationship with no turbulence, it’s to continue to meet these unmet parts of ourselves that can only come out through love?

[44:47] Rainier

Yeah. Well, hopefully there’s a balance. I’ve met some people who have that storyline of “We were here to heal each other”, early on in their relationship. And my god, their relationship is so explosive and turbulent. I always say…

[44:59] Sahara

Do they call each other twin flames?

[45:01] Rainier

Exactly, and I’m like “Get out not! Get out now!” 

[45:05] Sahara

We fight all the time, it’s because we’re twin flames, it’s just so karmic.

[45:09] Rainier

We belong together.

[45:10] Sahara


[45:11] Rainier

Yeah. And I’m always like, if it’s bad not, it’s going to be hell in 10 years. So, I think that there has to be a balance. You know, as much as love is a hospital, I think it should be a home too. I do think that love should be easy for all of the turbulence that my partner and I have been through, I think that, one of the other things about it is, we’ve been the center of the eye of the storm and there really has been this ease to it, which, I think is unnatural, perhaps. But I think that that points to it, that love is a hospital, but I think it’s a home, love should be easy, I think, to some extent, also.

[45:45] Sahara

Yeah, I think it’s that balance of love should allow you to have more energy to be yourself, to live your dharma, your soul’s purpose, to share your gifts with the world, because, you know, some relationships I see, it’s like their full-time job is the relationship and they’re constantly processing, and healing, and this, and that. Maybe some people, that’s their love path, is to just be learning all life experiences through relationships. I see this a lot in the polyamorous community, you know. And then, for some people, it’s like “No, I want my love to be my, like, easy, stable, rock, foundation that I don’t need to really worry about, so I can focus on my work, focus on my kids, or something else”. 

But what I found is, in my own relationship, it was actually very easy, but it was because we weren’t getting to the depths of where we could have gone, that it was, like, easier to just keep it easy and keep flowing, and we actually really never fought. And now I’m like “Oh, I actually want to get to those deeper triggers and those deeper layers because then there’s deeper love that comes with that vulnerability while, at the same time, not making a muffle time job. I’ve still got to keep this Podcast going! 

[46:51] Rainier


[46:52] Sahara


[46:52] Rainier

Well, I think that this comes close to talking about my dominant analogy for relationships. I used to define relationships as a bit like, either a fortress, or some relationships like a prison, you know, just depending on which side of the walls you’re on. 

I think, from a fortress standpoint, is like trying to keep all the invaders out, trying to keep warm at night, trying to make it through life and this is the person I’m going to hold their hand through the turbulence. Or, you know, when so and so came along that I would, quickly, we would throw spears at them if they… Love is like a fortress for many of us, to keep us safe, safe, safe, safe. Or, it’s like a prison, keep me in, you know, don’t let him go out, don’t let her have friends with others.

I think that, predominantly, culturally, we define love in one of those two, kind of, ways, and they’re usually overlapping – fortress and prison. But I wonder if love is more like a trampoline.

My kids have the gargantuan trampoline outside, and I’ve got to be honest, every time they run towards that, I get a little nervous because one thing about trampolines, they’re not safe. I don’t care if you have the netting up, and you know, it’s in ground…

[48:09] Sahara

They’ll find little holes and get their leg in there, yeah.

[48:11] Rainier

The string will break, you know, all those things. And it’s like, I swear, every time my 10-year-old runs out and does those triple flips, I’m thinking “Oh my god, don’t break an arm”. The other thing about that trampoline is, it brings hours of delight, it takes him higher, it takes him further, and I think relationships should exist to do that for us, that they should bring delight, that they actually should bring joy and take us higher and further, and they should be the place where see deeper and greater insights, they should be the place where – you know, he has friends up the street and he invites them to come down and hang out, I think our relationship should be the place where we interact with the world. I also think that agreements in a trampoline are kind of like those springs. 

Now, in the fortress or prison model, agreements are like a brick, like, we build our relationships out of these giant concrete bricks, and if you pull one agreement out, the whole thing crumbles, right? Like, the agreement to have everything reciprocal, or the agreement “You can’t have this if I don’t have that”, or fidelity is a huge one for a lot of people, you pull that out, the whole cookie crumbles, makes sense. But on a trampoline, there are these springs, and when one gets rusty or breaks, you replace it, and you’ve got a lot of other ones that help hold that in line. And I think that that’s how relationships should be, they should be expansive, and expandable, and flexible, flexible forms and gentle boundaries that’s how I want my relationship to be, at least. 

[49:51] Sahara

And I think that’s where I see relationships heading in general because this construct of marriage is obviously not serving most people and most of us have not, we didn’t even choose – you know, you write your vows but it actually is not actual vows, it’s like “I promise to love you through good times and bad. Remember that day at the frat party when we fell in love”, and it’s like, that’s really, there’s no actual, like, situations or anything in there. So, I think to actually have agreements, and also, know that it’s not until death do us part, it’s until this doesn’t work for either one of us.

[50:27] Rainier

That’s right. 

[50:28] Sahara

That can feel very unromantic for people. Like, that’s like the part of the romance that as society, we’ve really held onto of like “It is forever, no matter what”. And it’s, like, to me, it’s more romantic to be like “Let’s continue to treat each other for however long it feels good”, because you never know how life will flow.

[50:45] Rainier

That is just so true. And one of the unfortunate elements here is, usually one of the persons figures it out first. It’s rare that people go Dutch onto the endings of relationships, someone’s usually ponying up faster than the other. And I think that’s when the fall-out starts, you know, when so and so learned. And then we do these weird things, we do these weird reverse mating rituals where we try to extract ourselves, so, I start to act cold towards you so that somehow it will make it easier to end things, or I have an affair to crowbar me out of this, or whatever the thing is. Like, we should probably call it as we know it, and usually we’re too scared, we lack the courage, we lack the ability to make a decision based on our instinct, we need these reasonable reasons like “Well, it was awful”, and so we make it awful to justify the ending we know we needed. 

What would happen if we just started every relationship with the statement “This ends. This is going to end, and what was important was that I saw you”, you know. And I think that that, to quote Mary Oliver again, “What was important was that we saw them, as through the veil, joyfully, secretly, clearly”, and I would add “Delightedly”.

[52:01] Sahara

I think about the difference of how we approach friendship and relationship, and, like, how bizarre dating actually is, like, when you think about it, of like “Here I am, with this total stranger, I have these expectations in my head of what this means for me and what I’m looking for, you have a totally different set. You know, for me, I might be looking for my future husband, you might be looking for a one-night stand. We don’t know because we’re not honest with each other, we’re both asking each other questions, trying to read between the lines of like “Who are your friends, and where do you work, and what do you do on the weekends, and all of these things. And I’m casting the role for “Do I want to spend the rest of my life with you, and I literally just met you”. Whereas, imagine if I met a friend, and like, the first time we hung out, I’m like “I don’t know, we don’t like the same movies, I don’t think this friendship’s going to work out”, like, you know, “This weird thing about how you walk is kind of bothering me”, it’s like, I would never…”, or like “If this friendship isn’t forever, I’m out, I’m a high-value friend, okay”, you know. It’s so bizarre, like, that would actually scare me away, if someone approached a friend like that, so, it’s like, why do we do that with relationship?

And I’ve been really sitting with that and I’m like, I think the thing that separated friendship from relationship is sex.

[53:15] Rainier

I was just about to say that. 

[53:18] Sahara

I’m like, it just keeps coming back to that, that I’m like, with a friend, I don’t really care if they have other friends, I expect them to have other friends, and they’re going to have different flavor friends and different textures, just like I do. I, kind of, have 20 best friends, I’m very polyamorous in the friendship space because every friend brings out a different part of me. So, you could say that every lover would bring out a different part of you, but it’s like, I think I’m more monogamous, biologically, if there is a biological indicator of it, that I’m like “Well, I wouldn’t want 20 lovers, I wouldn’t want my lover to have 20 lovers”, and it’s like why? And it’s, like, I think it’s something about the energetic cord that’s created through sex that, like, something shifts, and I do believe it’s more for the woman than the man, but I’m curious your take on it, just based on, like, science saying that women create oxytocin when they’re having sex with someone, whereas for a man, it takes 3 months of knowing men to have the oxytocin released. So, like, I’m wondering if that’s a part of it.

So, I’m just in a space of like, let me throw away everything I’ve ever learned from love and, like, just see what is, so, I’m curious what your happenings have been around this?

[54:24] Rainier

I’ve got to say, I want to go back to your radical proposition of looking at a friend and saying “Hey, if this isn’t going to last forever, I’m out!”

[54:32] Sahara

I’m out! I am worthy, okay!

[54:35] Rainier

Right! I mean, can you imagine if somebody sat there and said it to us, we would totally…

[54:41] Sahara

Here’s my check-list, you don’t meet this part, you’re not tall enough to be my friend.

[54:45] Rainier

Well, you know, of course, we do, like, have criteria for friendship, I hope. But, my god, we…

[54:52] Sahara

But we don’t make a check-list around it and tell all our friends.

[54:54] Rainier

Vision boards.

[54:56] Sahara


[54:56] Rainier

I know. But I think that, you know, it’s a lot like ice-cream, to me, and this is the thing I’ve been playing with. I remember my father taking me to ice-cream – you know, it’s funny how our first memories work – it’s probably like I had had ice-cream a lot of times before, but boy I remember! Four years old, standing in line and a Baskin Robbins with my dad, he gets cherries jubilee and I get bubblegum, blue, with all those bubbles in it, we stand there and my ice-cream is melting, melting, and he shows me how to make sure he doesn’t melt quite so fast and how I can care for it and do the uptake for it. But can you imagine if I rejected the ice-cream on the proposition that it wasn’t going to last forever? Like, can you imagine if I said “No, no, no, this ends, and so it’s not worthy. I only eat things that never end, there’s an endless…”, but the delight of the ice-cream is it’s ending, that I’m racing with time, I’m lavishing my attention upon it, I’m focusing on it, in this mad dash to gobble it all up, right?

Now, I think it is a great analogy because we could simply avoid the whole thing by devouring it in one bite, but we choose not to, we choose, instead, to work at the pace of time in the melting, we go along with the, kind of, flow there. I wish we approached love in the same way. I wish that love was a lot more like ice-cream to us, in which we acknowledge its inevitability and we delight ourselves in the presence, in the being present to it, the participation with it, in all of its colors, including its melting. 

As far as polyamory and monogamy go, these are really big and important words and they’re beyond my pay grade. I think, I don’t know if the heart recognized those boundaries. I’ve got to be honest, I’ve had some great moments in coffee shops, where I’ve fallen in love and it’s lasted for all of 23 seconds, and my heart can include those moments. I would say that what the heart can’t include so often, has to do with time and schedule, time and energy, all of my attending to things, that is much more difficult because I have a limited ability to focus on things. My heart may be able included, but my schedule might now. I think that’s probably the struggle for anyone who exists in that, kind of, polyamorous situation, is how to simply create time for everyone.

[57:31] Sahara

Yeah, I think it’s so tough, this battle between heart and mind, because I do believe there’s just this natural going back to that feeling of merging, that inclination of, like, when you find someone it’s like “Well, I’m whole and you’re whole, so why are you still looking for more people?”, and that’s been my question of – I’m open to learning all about my question about polyamory spaces like, yeah, why does that person not feel like enough? But they would say “It’s not that that person doesn’t not feel like enough, it’s just that there are other flavors of ice-cream”. But to me, when I find my favorite flavor of ice-cream, I don’t go back to the ice-cream store and try every other flavor, I’m like, I’m going to get the Oreo, chocolate chip, cookie dough, that’s my flavor”, until, maybe one day, I decide I’m allergic and I no longer want to have it.

So, it’s interesting because there is something so natural about you find that person and you want to do life with them, you want to do everything with them, and like, this hurt of like “Oh, but you don’t feel that way towards me”. And I do think the mind can work through it, of like “Okay, well, these are our agreements and then, you know, I’m going to see other lovers”, and for some people, it actually stimulates the relationship, you know. For some people, whether it’s literally having other relationships or having just openness in the relationship, brings them closer together, but for some people it’s just heartbreaking. And I think, yeah, you only know through being in it, and I think our generation is in this questioning space, but I find a lot of people convince themselves that they are okay with it, when they’re actually not. 

[59:02] Rainier

That’s certainly true.

[59:03] Sahara


[59:04] Rainier

I have four kids, and what I will say is, that it never occurred to me that I will diminish my love for one, two or three, if I added two, three or four. I know that’s a crude example, but I do think that’s true, to some extent.

I think that polyamory, while it’s used in the dating scenes, seems to be abominable excuse for avoidant strategies, emotionally. But what I would say, is that the definition of the word may loves, I think is best understood with many kinds of love. You said that with your friends, you’ve got, like, 20 different kinds of friends, so, maybe there’s a relationship where it’s like “That’s my soul person. This is the person, like, this is my home”. But maybe you have another relationship where they would never be described as your home, but they would certainly be described as someone who you enjoy spending time with, who is a deep love, with or without sex. I think that, probably at its root, that’s the offering of polyamory, that is says “Well, we make up our agreements as we go, we understand ourselves based upon what our needs are in the moment”.

The best definitions of polyamory I’ve always come across, are ongoing conversations where the agreements don’t get put in concrete. And that gets back to your statement, often times, those kind of relationships are rather obsessed with relationship itself, they’re under constant redefinition, and that can be exhausting for a lot of people who just want to kick off their shoes and sit back.

[1:00:43] Sahara

Yeah. What I would definitely give the polyamorous community, as well as the kink community, is, they really value communication and they make everything really clear and defined, and they’re just so good at saying what is in a way that just, like, the norm of relationships aren’t. And I think there’s no true polyamorous, or any other relationships, that are the same, and it is a constant changing. And I think, ultimately, it’s, yeah, how much time and energy do you want to devote to this thing and how do you want it to make you feel, and do you want to use this as your growth journey or do you want to use it more as, just that easy home frequency and you’re going to get the growth journey somewhere else. 

[1:01:24] Rainier

Well, I think that what you just described right there, you have to make it work for you. And I think when we out people in these rigid categories and we say “This is what I want, this is what I’m willing…this is it, absolutely, the vision board”, whatever those things are, I do think we limit ourselves. I think it’s much more interesting to say “What is the need of the moment? What is this person in front of me and how do I connect to them? And do I want to adjust myself to incorporate the good will of another here?”

[1:01:58] Sahara

Yeah. Yeah, and I think the adjusting piece is also really big in relationship. And kind of circling back to where we started, in every relationship there’s going to be an adjustment and there needs to be because you’re not going to be the same person. And I think that, sometimes we’re like “Well, this is who I am and I’m fixed in this, and you’ve got to accept me just like this”, and it’s like, once you enter into relationship, a whole new version of you is birthed, and that means old versions of you are going to die too. And it doesn’t mean that the relationship is taking away from you, but it means it’s actually helping you become this next iteration that, only through love, you could become.

[1:02:36] Rainier

And I think that, right there, also contains – people always ask “So, you’re saying love ends?”. You know, recently, my father passed away and I had a dream of him a couple of nights ago and I couldn’t see his face, it was like he was half there. And I think that probably describes, what is actually, probably, spiritually, occurring, he’s still half there, so to speak. But I think of the ways he’s lived on, he lives on, now, in how I interact with the world, he lives, now, in this conversation, he lives on, now, in his grandchildren, and so many others who he’s impacted. I don’t know if love dies, not at least how we think of it. I think even when love ends, in the form it ends, I think it continues in deep ways, pushing us, pulling us, probing us. And I think that that is the mystery of love.

[1:03:38] Sahara

It just continues to transmute. And I think you can have deeper levels of appreciation when there’s a little bit more space as well. 

[1:03:47] Rainier

Yeah. Which is why, at least for me, part of my personal work, is just looking back at every lover as they were on the day that I fell in love with them. And that’s how I know that I’ve healed in relationship to a relationship, when I can look back and see them as I did when I fell in love with them. That’s such a beautiful place. Then, every lover is a teacher, you know.

[1:04:11] Sahara

Such a beautiful practice. Well, thank you so much for sharing your words and your wisdom and your art, I feel like I could talk to you for hours and just be in this love space. So, how can listeners connect with you and read your work?

[1:04:25] Rainier

You can get my book “As You Are” off of Amazon, or go to rainerwylde.com, or on Instagram, where I hang out and hold court. 

[1:04:33] Sahara

Yay, well, we will have those links in the show notes! Thank you so much for being here today!

[1:04:37] Rainier

Thank you so much.

[1:04:39] End of Interview


[1:04:39] Sahara

I hope you loved this conversation and you’re feeling the love bubble that I feel right now. 

[1:04:45] Sahara

So, if you love this Episode, please share it on your social media, tag us, we need more love in the world.

[1:04:0] Sahara

And if you loved it, please leave a review for it on the Apple Store and I will send you a free Womb Meditation to connect to your womb’s wisdom. So, simply leave a review, take a screenshot of it and email it over to me at [email protected] you can find that email in the show notes. 

[1:05:10] Sahara

Hope you loved today’s Episode, and I’ll see you in the next one. Namaste!

Episode #495: Why Love Is So Difficult – And How It Can Not Be with Rainier Wylde
By Sahara Rose

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