November 28, 2019

Real Love isn’t Easy. True Love takes Work.

I’m not convinced that real love is easy.

Those who say it is—I wonder exactly what they are doing?

Maybe myself, my clients, and everyone I actually know in relationships are wrong; but speaking with them tells me true love seems to be a bit of work.

Why do we spread all kinds of utopian ideas about the one thing that most of us are trying at? I guess because it’s something we crave. We make up great stories about the perfection of it and how much easier life will be when we have it. We pretend to each other that good relationships are easy.

However, love is complex, because we are complex. It’s not black and white, nor does it have a roadmap.

True love is a gauntlet of wading through our projections and trying to understand what’s really beneath them. It’s often learning how to be more kind to one another and how to allow our partners to do life at their own speed, instead of at ours. It’s figuring out how to get two (or more) people to be together for longer time than they might naturally choose…right?

I find it interesting that those who often say to others, “If you have to work that hard, they’re probably not the one,” are single.

Now. Single is awesome. I’m just noting that those who are in a long-term relationship usually have a different take: commitment to another and to working through our humanness together takes a sort of grit, a determination.

Love is beautiful. It’s intimate and revealing in its vulnerability. Love shows us new sides of ourselves and of life. It fulfills our animal need for a pack and our individual need for connection. However, it’s not meant to be perfect, and if we are looking for that in each relationship we enter, we will shortly exit.

There’s harm in creating stories about things. We have done this so much with love. Even family love and friendship love we often have an unrealistic idea about. We have created fables that love will meet our every need. But it is not meant to. We are meant to learn how to be there for our own selves, even when we are “in love.”

Of course, if something is abusive or definitely unaligned with our life choices, or doesn’t feel right anymore deep in our soul, we do need to make a different choice. We do deserve to have our basic relationship needs met. But, we also need to communicate them so they can be.

Often, because we were spoon-fed the fairy tale kind of love, we think our loves should be able to provide exactly what we desire without us having to ask for it.

Sorry. Nope. That won’t work in true love. Deep love asks questions of us. It says to us, “I call BS.” It says, “That’s your stuff not mine.” It challenges us to do our own work.

True love is something profound. It’s beyond our triggers and our unmet inner child wounds. We think our partners should be perfect, although life we know is not. Our relationship is a microcosm of life.

Love is meant to challenge us, to soften us, and to open us so that we will grow.

Even though in contemporary thinking we are told to avoid what is hard, sometimes the hard things are worth it. True love might be.

When we shy away from challenge, from having to learn new ways to collaborate, communicate, and cohabitate, we push away intimacy that might have been had. That’s okay to choose. Just understand, love is not a goddess sitting at your feet offering you a foot massage daily, nor is it a warrior who is always ready to be compassionate and kind.

Most things are disposable these days, and so too has love become. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with that. But perhaps it’s good to know: it’s not true love if it’s not work. Period.

Relationships with others are just like our own evolution; they flow, they get sticky, they are wonderful, and sometimes they suck. It’s our job to decide if they are worth the work to keep them going. Just remember, we can take responsibility if something doesn’t feel good anymore. Is there a way to keep love fresh and exciting?

I like the Buddhist take on this, that love is something that awakens us. That it is about maitri, developing a deeper kindness for one another. In doing so, we take an interest to understand others on a deeper level. True love is this completely.

Can we appreciate the courage it takes in each other to try love?

Sometimes it is the right choice to leave (especially if our partner isn’t committed to the challenge), and other times we are running away from true love because we are scared of the work, or of what it will show us about ourselves.

Perhaps though we could see the work as a joy, as a blessing that we get to reap the rewards of. If we choose to be in a “true love” relationship, there are a few questions we can use to support the work: How can we help to make it better? How can we understand this person more? How can we own our experience while asking clearly for what we need?

Now that’s humble, that’s kindness.

Now that’s true love.

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