Love is actually crazy.
We search far and wide to find someone who gives us that special feeling, and when we find them at long last, we leap over hurdles and stumble on our own two feet to keep that feeling intact.
This is why relationships are so complicated. Our deepest longings and most heartfelt desires are being projected onto the other person, and when our partner inevitably fails to meet those unrealistic expectations, we take personal offense. We feel like they are consciously doing harm to the most intimate aspects of who we are.
Fact is, we are all deeply flawed. There are so many things we can perceive as wrong with us, no matter how self-righteous and noble we may feel, and those issues will invariably come to express themselves through an intimate relationship.
Intimacy reflects the best and the worst parts of ourselves, and it does this because relationships amplify the human experience. It is a kind of echo chamber of our deepest thoughts and feelings, because never is there a time when we are in a better position to be more honest with another human being.
This is at once profoundly beautiful, and at the same time can be incredibly painful. There is no better feeling than being completely honest with someone, and there is perhaps no worse feeling than having someone betray that trust.
Sex is symbolic of this, which is why it is so central to relationships. There is a kind of honesty in sexuality, because we reveal to another person what could be seen as revolting, and in that, we are spiritually cleansed. It’s a form of catharsis—one where we usually attach this earth-shattering feeling to the other person.
I had a conversation with a friend the other night who was going through a difficult breakup. One of the things I said to him was that it is a great privilege to be able to feel this way, and that we would always choose to endure the suffering that is involved in love rather than avoid it altogether. It is existentially powerful to feel this deeply about another person, and in turn feel this deeply about life in its totality.
I say—let’s feel everything, and not be turned away by the sharp sting of love. Life is a beautiful tragedy, so let’s embrace the whole mess of it.
To truly love someone is to appreciate their strengths and tolerate their weaknesses.
There is that romantic idea that we should enjoy the flaws and imperfections of our loved ones no matter what, and that it is somehow virtuous to do so. This is total bullsh*t. We don’t need to like what is unlikable about our partner. We don’t need to be in love with the things that are wrong with them. This notion is completely unrealistic to maintaining a healthy relationship.
The only thing we need to do is negotiate our problems with the problems of the other person. A relationship is a form of bargaining. “I’ll be honest and open with you, but you need to work on that little thing that you do that bothers me, and vice versa.” We need to work with each other, rather than expect the other to just inherently understand where we are coming from—loving us in spite of our blunders and missteps.
There can be no expectation in love. It is too dynamic and fluid to be constrained in this way. When we attempt to shackle and constrict our love in a way that tends to our most deeply-rooted insecurities, the result is always disastrous. We must do our best not to idealize our intimate relationships, and rather allow them to be what they need to be while remaining an active participant in the cultivation of this beautiful connection.
Ultimately, it all comes down to balance. We are balancing our needs with the needs of the other person, and this agreement comes to take on a life of its own as a relationship. A relationship is more than two separate people being associated with each other. It is a fusion. It is two distinct energy fields operating in accordance with each other to create an entirely new frequency. It becomes something entirely transcendent of the particular needs and wants of the individuals involved, and this transcendent force must be honored by the people involved in order to sustain it.
Here are three things that are necessary in order to live with love:
1. See our partner for who they are without idealizing them.
2. Accept the tragic side of love and be grateful that we ever had the incredible opportunity to feel something so deeply.
3. Recognize that a relationship is more than just two people interacting with each other and accept that we don’t have total control over the dynamics of the relationship.
The most effective life to be lived is the one where we can endure anything and still go on loving.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Brieuc Saffré/ Flickr
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Nicole Cameron