Which is better, a long-term relationship or a lot of casual encounters?

Lama Ole’s answer:

There are a lot of different opinions here. For instance, the Danes say, “Why make one person unhappy if you can make many people happy instead?” That was a good option before AIDS appeared. As soon as that happened, the days of making love easily and happily belonged to the past. Since then it’s become riskier, and we should watch out and protect ourselves.

We should also take care not to break too many hearts. By that I mean that you should send clear signals straight away. If you only want a brief encounter, be honest and make this clear from the start to avoid burdening yourself with false promises or other unpleasant things. Love should create joy and not difficulties.

If we fall in love with someone who is in a relationship, what is the best way to handle it?

Lama Ole’s answer:

If the existing relationship is going well, if both partners enjoy each other’s company and are doing well, then I would certainly look for another lady or gentleman. Even if there are obvious signs that things aren’t working anymore, I would wait until the karmic connection between the partners has dissolved.

If two people come together too soon, while the former partner is completely unhappy about the separation, then the new couple is creating negative karma. One should wait for the relationship to fall apart by itself. And then, when it is over and the old partners are able to wish each other well, the new connection will be good too.

When we have a sudden feeling of attraction for someone, it is because we have a bond with the person who has crossed our path. And it is not possible to make any moral judgement about it. I would never judge this. Nevertheless, it is advisable not to follow this feeling immediately; it might be strong, but it also might pass by again quickly.

One reason to take your time when going into a new relationship is that both good actions and bad actions in the past can be the cause for people to come together. Within a short period of time, one can feel whether something positive or negative is approaching. In a situation where things become more and more difficult, that which ties you to the other person is something bad, and you still have the chance to move apart again. This is why you shouldn’t throw away what you already have too quickly, just to get into something you are not sure about. That’s my advice. Be a bit mindful—both good actions and bad actions have their glue and bind us together.

Sometimes a partnership might have simply become a bit boring. In that case, the relationship may actually be strengthened and revived again by having a new player join the game for a short while. That advice is important for laypeople. But keep in mind that the purpose is to preserve the relationship, in particular if there are children.

For yogis, something else is important. Here the point is to use one’s sexuality to create the maximum amount of joy—so as to develop as quickly as possible. For the yogis, it is crucial to get to know people to practice with, and to experience a great amount of space and bliss. And here, one isn’t necessarily limited to one person. One can let oneself be inspired by a few partners.

I once heard you say that when a woman has an affair, it is more alarming for a partnership than when a man does it. How exactly did you mean that?

Lama Ole’s answer:

I am always in close contact with people. They come to me and write letters asking me for advice. Hence, I can deduce certain patterns. They might not be valid for everybody, but I would say that they are valid in most cases.

Based on what I’ve seen and heard, I do think that for the woman, the mental level of a relationship is more important, whereas for the man it’s the physical relationship. As long as the man doesn’t build up a relationship of trust with another woman, women don’t feel too disturbed if their partner has fun somewhere else from time to time. On the other hand, a woman can have her five movie stars pinned up on the wall, and it doesn’t bother the man as long as dinner is cooked when he comes home. But he doesn’t want her to go to bed with other men. The physical level is more important for the man, while the mental level is more important for the woman.

Quite often, an affair has a different meaning for a man and for a woman—there is certainly a difference there. If a man has an affair, it might just be because he was in a good mood. A man goes out, has some fun, wakes up in another bed, checks whether she’s a blonde or a redhead, and then goes home and forgets about it. But if a woman does this, in most cases it’s because her relationship is somehow in bad shape. When a woman has an affair, it reveals more about the state of a relationship than when a man does it. That’s why there is the saying, “What Caesar does is not so important; look instead at what Caesar’s wife does to discover the true state of the nation.”

It is said that one should avoid causing sexual harm. However, if one doesn’t want to be monogamous, this happens rather quickly, doesn’t it?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Yes, that’s true. Sexuality also means suffering. It’s a very strong thing. Desire is the strongest of the emotions; it’s the cause for our human rebirth.

People take their emotions seriously. That’s why we should be careful and shouldn’t break hearts for no reason. Breaking hearts is not a good sport! At first, one might consider oneself someone special, above the drama of broken hearts. But then one day somebody comes along and breaks one’s own heart. It can happen that one partner in the relationship falls in love with somebody else. One should always try to handle it as responsibly as possible.