24 Jul The Courage To Commit
Love is an action not a feeling.
What is romantic love? Infatuation? Passion? Chemistry?
A meeting of the heart, mind and soul. A combination of all those elements that instinctively draws us to one person over another.
I rather like Dr G’s definition of love “a commitment to nurturing our own and the other’s personal growth.” It’s hard to cling to the remnants of something masquerading as love when you use this definition. Love should be a safe haven where you can challenge and nurture each other with honesty and respect.
So where does passion fit? How do we know what is real and not some passing whimsy that will disappear once the first blush of romance has faded? The trick is not to get distracted by the icing. Often I am attracted to the frosting and I commit before I have tasted the cake, or considered if I would enjoy it unadorned.
I look at the couples around me. Some of my friends openly admit that they have fallen out of love and stay together for the sake of the kids, or because its easier. As if that’s all you can expect after the honeymoon years are over. Others are together and profess their love for each other; but in reality lead their own lives. Focused on careers and individual pursuits, sharing little as a couple but worn into the groove of habit. Others are caught up in the bitterness of their divorce and are unable to relinquish the grip of the past. However there are a select few that inspire me to continue my elusive quest for the Holy Grail.
Friends of mine are celebrating their 29th wedding anniversary this week and they are still very much in love. Her eyes light up when he enters the room, his compassion and caring is evident in his awareness of her every move. Somehow the sum of the two enhances each of the individuals. It’s clear that they complement and cherish each other.
I used to get excited about every potential new partner. I would ask myself “is this the one?” I would indulge in lengthy flirtations and protracted phone calls. Often I was reluctant for things to progress as I was hesitant to shatter the illusion of the fantasy relationship inside my head. This was far preferable to the kick of reality. Once the thrill of the chase had passed the words “what was I thinking?” often popped into my mind (and out of the mouths of my friends). I was far too busy sticking my finger in the icing to notice the cake.
In taking that leap of faith to progress a relationship the potential for failure is high but the greater the risk the greater the reward. I don’t believe that there is just “one” right person for anyone. There is no certainty but if I have the courage to open my heart, soul and mind, I might discover someone with which I can forge a connection and trust that will continue to grow and nurture. The true test of a relationship comes in the minutiae and obstacles of everyday life. Those days when I and my partner see each other warts and all and are no longer playing the roles of Prince Charming and Snow White. When I allow myselfself to be truly vulnerable I can discover who is standing beside me and who truly has my back. That to me is the basis for a meaningful relationship.
As Brene Brown states: “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”
I no longer wish to dawdle in the fantasy of infatuation as delicious as it may be. I would rather take the calculated risk of opening my heart and soul in the unrelenting light of reality. In the words of Lord Alfred Tennyson “Tis better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all.”
So I will take the leap and when I don’t make the landing on the other side, pick up the pieces of my heart, dust off my tattered pride, learn from the experience and move on.