At one of our favorite restaurants, I witnessed what felt like the freshest, purest embodiment of the innocence of new love.
A pretty, femme punkish chick with her dainty, daisy-like qualities and tattoos indicating that the daisy had felt some rain in her day leaned forward for her cute, well-fitting boyfriend to fix the flower in her hair.
Then, they took a selfie.
I was in awe.
Their love at the breakfast table filled me more than any diner food ever could.
I looked up at my partner and said, “Remember that?”
He looked at them, smiling. “Remember what?”
“The beginning, when we captured every moment with a selfie. The freshness of uncertainty but ultimate faith. You know, that…just look”
“Yeah. I remember that. But, honestly, I like us better now.”
I returned to their connection, and honed in on seeing us, through my partner’s perspective, by watching them.
He likes the certainty. Not the potential certainty of choosing and being chosen by the other, but the secure, all-knowing, and reciprocated certainty.
He likes trusting that our jointly-built security will have many epic moments to follow, so we don’t have to capture them all with a selfie to remember something good.
He likes the clarity of perspective that only two people who’ve been through real life together can attest to. He likes being in it together and always finding our way back to love—which isn’t always f*cking easy.
Relationships are like diamonds in the rough, and he likes to focus on the shine when we’re being bludgeoned at our edges. At least we’re feeling the same way, together.
He likes that we’ve been through our selfie era, our different nicknames over the years eras, our savage fighting era, and now, we’re in a new kind of era, which most people would sum up as “adulting,” with kids—but pure, innocent, and loving, just the same.
To him, this is the funnest one yet. The depths of his integrity leave him with no doubt: our eras will sift through themselves, but our willingness to stay conscious about what’s real for us will allow us to keep getting better and better, the more future we create together.
Even our fighting era felt fresh, because it was new within the context of us. And, when it passed, we got to add another “we’ve been through this” era to our history and say we stayed in it, together.
If you love truly, it’s always fresh.
It’s when we stop seeing the freshness in the person we love—that, at once, made us feel fresh within ourselves—that we lose sight of the love hidden under the layers of our own unresolved and unmet needs—that we believed this person was the perfect piece of the puzzle to fill.
I think the key to the kind of relationship that’s always fresh, and always residing within true, unconditional love, is that both parties make themselves responsible for meeting their own needs. I’m not talking financial or material needs. I’m talking about the needs we hide within us—the ones we never even let ourselves believe are “needs” because we don’t want to need them.
We may feel guilty or selfish for having needs which other people may consider “wants.” I’m talking about the need to be seen, heard, understood, to belong, to be loved. Basic soul needs that, when unmet, may not kill us, but may just shrivel us up like a flower in a drought.
To be seen means stepping out of choosing invisibility. We find ourselves “too much” and we shame ourselves for requiring attention. This makes zero sense, and I’ll tell you why.
We’ve never met one need in our entire lives—not one—without first giving our attention to that need.
When my partner can’t see me some days because he’s too distracted, I go for a walk and smile at the people I walk by. I see them in a such a way that they can’t avoid seeing me back. Itch scratched. Problem not dumped on him.
His thing is to be heard. He’s got a serious need for it. When I’m not up for listening to political rants, he goes online and says the sh*t I don’t wanna hear to people who actually want to hear it!
When we feel misunderstood by each other, we don’t phone a friend for some allied understanding. We humble ourselves to the perspective of the other, thus reconnecting with our own experience of being seen or understood.
Knots get untangled and we’re both seen and understood moments after our surrender. That only works when both of us are willing to humble ourselves to the other’s perspective. Understanding usually happens in conflict when we stop trying to be understood and face the direction of understanding. That’s what we do.
When we feel isolated, we hang out with our individual friends.
We don’t make each other responsible for filling our voids. That’s not to say we don’t fill each other’s voidsand meet each other’s needs. It just means we aren’t responsible when we can’t. When our cup runneth over, we do—and when we can’t, we don’t judge the other person for being a sh*tty partner when we could just as easily face the outside world and get our needs met in a different way.
First and most importantly, we honor the needs themselves. We don’t hide them and pretend they aren’t there because we all know what stifling a need feels like. Maybe you can feel it now. You’re already probably doing it.
It feels like total sh*t, helpless, and phony.
Self-love has to be our first love in relationships.
It means that every single day, we begin again. And every single day, we’re gifted opportunities to experience ourselves in a way we never have before, open doors we didn’t know existed within us, and create ourselves anew.
Our relationships are a extension of self-love as a verb. Our dynamics are symbolic of the beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world, which sucks if they aren’t always healthy beliefs.
If we look to our partner and only our partner to meet our needs, they will always fail, epically. Read that again.
If we’re doing this then our truth is we’re not in touch with what our needs actually are. If we were, we would find a way to meet them.
When we blame our partner for not meeting the needs we don’t even fully understand, we cast a veil of blame onto them that, day after day, year after year, just turns darker and darker. Until, one day, we can’t see them through it anymore.
That’s the beginning of the end of the freshness we swore we’d do anything to keep.
I’ll say the most important part once more: if you truly love, starting with yourself, it’s always fresh. All of it.
Author: Stacy Hoch
Image: Martin Garrido/Flickr
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Copy Editor: Travis May