So, what is love? This is an age-old question that few people stop long enough to look at.
We get a lot of messages from fairy tales, the media and our culture as to what love “should” look like, but do we ever really pause long enough to define love for ourselves? For me, love is freedom, meaning—I set you free and we are free to express ourselves with each other.
I think we can all agree that love is not limitation, servitude and control. Not only are these states suffocating—it kills the very thing that we are trying to cultivate together. This is what I call a slow creeping poison for relationships—it is a build-up of unsaid expectations that are just waiting to explode.
While fairy tales and magazines are destructive to a woman’s psyche and body image…they are also oppressive to men. There seems to be a growing trend that makes it cool to blame men.
Fairy tales have been destructive to women and men and the patriarchy has failed us all.
We are having to learn new ways to be with each other. Our emotions can come in waves—they are like the wind, sometimes the intensity of them is active and sometimes it is not. We can not always be responsible for the triggers and emotional experiences of our lovers and partners.
We can’t expect each other to:
1) Love the other person the way they want to be loved—all of the time
2) Read their minds
3) Never care one way or the other if they mistreat us
4) Always brighten their day when they are sad
It is just not humanely possible to do that and remain healthy.
I can do some of those things a portion of the time but we can’t expect each other to do them all of the time. Expectation kills our motivation to act. It distracts us from our work and purpose. We do not live to serve each other.
That is not the agreement that we made when we fell in love.
I don’t think anyone in their heart really wants that, anyway—I think it is just some kind of twisted social construct that we have adopted. Just as I am trying to work on myself and my life, I want my partner to also do the same. This means not vomiting our insecurities onto each other. I know we all have insecurities but I would not be with you if I did not love you.
Have you ever had the experience where you are both out and all of a sudden something bothers you and you start freaking out on the person you are with?
They don’t know what is going on in your head, in fact they thought that you were having a great time. That’s just not right. There’s no universe where it is okay to start freaking out on a person for something that happened yesterday, last week, or a month ago. It’s not right to put our emotional explosion on to another person and expect that they will remedy it, solve it, or medicate it—it’s just not their job.
Emotional manipulation through guilt, entitlement, or fear is not an effective strategy for giving or receiving love. No human being will love us when we demand it from them. It is bound to build resentment and poison our relationships over time.
When there is the poison of control and emotional volatility coursing through a relationship it ruins the romance, and the love disappears.
When love disappears we try harder and harder and harder and harder to get it back. We control, resent, guilt and feel more entitlement for all of the things we are not getting from the other which pushes the other person further and further and further away.
The way to kill love is to demand it, to use guilt, to use entitlement, to use fear, and to make someone else responsible for our feelings and emotions.
That’s the way to make someone defensive, resentful and not want to help us. So, why do it? It doesn’t make any sense at all whatsoever. If we want to receive love, there must be a giving, a sweetness, a harmony, and a cultivation that inspires more love.
I have talked about all of the ways we can push love away. So, let’s change gears and look at the positive. This is what attracts love:
Space—I want space and I want to give space to my lover. I want us to both have autonomy so that when we come together we both have something to offer each other. I want the freedom to go out and do my thing. When we meet again I want to feel your excitement about life and the radiance of your heart.
Acceptance—No one likes to always be the villain. If you think that about me, then why are you with me? I want to be accepted for who I am. I want to accept you for who you are, however, that doesn’t mean I want to have to always accept you flipping out on me. I want us to respect each other enough to not let it get to that point. I want us to be able to walk away if we need some space and then return with more to offer.
Encouragement—Everyone likes to know that they are appreciated. I see your strengths and beauty. I like to acknowledge them. I would also like to be acknowledged for what I do. It is rough out there in the world. I want to be able to come home to you, and while I don’t need it all of the time, why don’t we encourage each other to keep going?
Support—I want to develop a mutual support system together. I want us to feel like we have each other’s back and that we are not going to turn against one another if the other fails to live up to our expectations.
Intimacy with oneself—I know myself and you know yourself, that is why we are together. Sometimes we can share this intimacy and at other times we need aloneness and perhaps experiences outside of our relationship to bring us deeper into our understanding of our self. I want us to both do that with the feeling of freedom. This to me builds a lasting love and makes me adore you even more.
A relationship is a mirror that helps us share and grow together. The mirror serves us as long as there is love in the relationship.
We can all be insensitive and estrange ourselves from the very thing that we truly desire. How about we focus less on what we can get from another and more on what brings communion and true partnership?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Cat Beekmans