Looking back, I can clearly see that the previous relationships that I experienced reflected my own internal frame of reference – the dominant ideas, wishes and emotions in my mind. As I’ve learned… projection makes perception.

“Men always let women down, relationships don’t work out, the woman has to do everything… etc… etc…” The age-old story of my parents being played out again and again in my mind; reinforced throughout the relationships I had.

I would ask myself, “But I did everything in my power to avoid being like them, what happened?”

I finally figured out that my reference points for relationships were based on a perceived broken relationship. Subconsciously I was living my life, making true what I had seen growing up. It was a self fulfilling prophecy.

We look inside first, decide the kind of world we want to see, and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it. We make it true by our own interpretations of what it is. We are great at justifying our own mistakes and looking to the other, as to why they are wrong, what they could change, or in some cases choosing to take the blame. All our internal projections are based on our anger, lack of love, lack of self worth or lack of self respect.

I remember that I wanted to be loved, yet I was unwilling to let love in. I wanted to be shown respect, yet I was in a relationship where I was not respecting myself. I wanted to be revered as a worthy partner, yet my self-esteem questioned, why did this person want to be with me? We both were mirrors for one another, unable to see that we were looking for things in each other that we were lacking within ourselves. 

The concept of mirror in relationships is one of the greatest insights that has changed my life.

Of all relationships, intimate relationships have the power to be our greatest mirror. It is the mirror in which we see ourselves, in which we discover ourselves.

A partner provides us the opportunity to look deep within. The reflection can be clear or distorted, it’s like looking at your reflection in a lake.

This mirror becomes a very precious teacher for us to discover who we really are, and where we are on the path of our authentic self.

Understand that our mirror is the greatest teacher we have access to in life.

I stopped looking outside myself to see what was not working or not right with others around me; I started looking inside myself.

What this means is that others are simply reflecting parts of your own consciousness back to you, giving you an opportunity to really see yourself and ultimately to grow.

And this growth happens only when you understand what it truly means to see yourself reflected back at you, that there is no room for blame, there is no room for judgment and there is no room to feel like a victim of another person’s actions or words. There is only room for real love based on understanding and gratitude. Your relationship with your partner enables you to take the closest, most accurate look at who you are.

“If you bring forth that which is within you, Then that which is within you Will be your salvation. If you do not bring forth that which is within you, Then that which is within you Will destroy you.” —The Gnostic Gospels

A mirror is very neutral—it just reflects. It doesn’t take any sides. Here is an exercise to try when someone elicits a negative feeling or annoys you…

Try to quieten your thoughts, opinions and judgments about what you are seeing.

Ask yourself this question: What part of myself is being reflected back at me that I am denying about myself?

When we are able to accept all parts of ourselves, it has the potential of dissolving. It dissolves because as you are integrating it as part of who you are instead of denying it. When we keep denying these parts of ourselves, it will keep coming up in different situations, with different people, different relationships… to get real is to understand where you house this reflection.

Still with me?

When only the face seems to change: It is not a random coincidence, all our intimate relationships tend to be similar.

The pattern seems to remain the same while only the face changes.

The repetition of the same problems, the same feelings and the same insecurities often leave you despondent and even reluctant to try again.

You surrender yourself to the belief that relationships are difficult and require much compromise.

You can’t help but notice how what starts off with such hope often ends with no hope.

There is one common denominator: What perhaps you haven’t noticed is that in all these repetitive relationships there has always only been one common denominator – YOU.

Whoever the person is that you have next to you, no matter how many times you change him or her, the fundamentals of your relationship will remain unchanged because they are simply mirroring you. It can be no other way.

This realization may frustrate you at first and you may even reject the truth that everyone is your mirror. Thus, the only person you need to influence is yourself. Being conscious in a relationship is being conscious of yourself being reflected back in another.

couple on a beach

To internalize this truth, that your relationship is your closest mirror, you must first understand it. It is a perfect mirror of your inner relationship with yourself and the beliefs you have acquired about life and love.

Everything you admire in another person belongs to you and the same goes for all that which you dislike. In order for you to recognize a certain quality in another, then it must be part of your consciousness. You would not be able to see it otherwise.

A relationship is an opportunity to experience the fullness of you, evolve, and grow. The relationship is threefold: love for the self, love for your partner and ultimately, a relationship with love itself.

Written by Tina.

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  • Perry L

    Man, you guys like getting deep with this don’t you? You start out with the Freudian angle and end with a trifecta of what you should own up to. I agree though, whatever you do in life starts and ends with you. I used to be that guy who tried to pawn his issues off on other external forces, but as we mature, we start to know better.

  • Perry L

    Be true to yourself so you can be true to others. That makes sense to me. Life is too short to be living a lie and love is too deep to stay on that surface. Great stuff here, I’m glad I found you.

  • Mistiq11

    I love the advice about being the type of person we want our mate to be. This is so true because we don’t see the world as it is but as we are, so in order to find someone with the qualities that we want, we have to bring forth those same qualities in ourselves first. Thanks for a great post.

    • Starr

      I totally agree with you. The article has it spot on when it says that we should find out what it is about our partner we don’t like, because that is a quality that is within us, that’s why it’s being mirrored to us when we look at our partner.

  • RMills

    It seems like such a simple thing. I want X out of my relationship, so I’m going to actually be X to my partner. And yet something so simple is so hard to do. The bottom line is that I set the tone for my relationship every single day by the way I treat my wife and by the way I feel about myself as a man and as a husband. She is following my lead and I am only reaping what I’ve sewn. If I want to change the tone of our marriage, I need to change myself first. It gives me a lot to think about.

    • that is a gorgeous response! so much self awareness and self responsiblity in your message in order to create the relationship and marriage you want!

  • yes, yes, yes! so true of relationships and life!