First: today is my lovely mother’s birthday. There are no words that can completely capture the gratitude I feel for having her as my mother. If I were to carry her on my back for the rest of mt of my life, mt debt would remain unpaid. Happy birthday, Mother Dear. Warning: This post might give you a headache. I’m kidding! LOL The first version of this post was written several years ago and posted to a forum on a singles site. You would not believe the tremendous amount of negative feedback I received.
Romantic Love and Attraction
Love isn’t a feeling.
Amor is the Spanish word for love, but it loses so much in the translation. Amor comes from the root word, alma, which means soul. Therefore, to say te amo translates as I love you is terribly inadequate. It loses its essentialness. Te amo is a powerful statement, so much more than a mere, “I love you.” It is to love someone with the core of your soul.
In our culture we tend to use the word “love” in many different ways. If we’re going to attempt to untangle the confusions and miscommunication surrounding our relationships, we need to look at this a little closer. There are three separate elements of “loving” in intimate relationships: love, romance, and chemistry.
Of the three mentioned above — love, romance, and chemistry — love is probably the simplest to understand (and the hardest to practice). Attempts at defining love has gone on since time immemorial, but I will offer today one of the simplest. Love is simply what is when your heart is open. Love is manifested in your body (and mind) as openness. Anger and hate is expressed as a contraction. Love = openness; hate = contraction.
You could love almost anything or anyone. You could love your lover, your dog, your mother, your car, your sexual organ, painting landscapes, etc. When your heart is open, you love whomever or whatever in your life. Love is the union of you and the one you are with.
To do love is to open your heart. There is no loving with a closed heart. It is true that many of us suffer from closed and broken hearts, but I get ahead of myself. So, love is what is when your heart is open. If you’re waiting to feel love, as in soulmate or a Divine act of randomness (as if “God” didn’t already have enough to do) or the arrival of a prophesy of an idealized “The One,” you will be waiting for a long time. (Oh yeah! And psssst: there’s no Santa Claus.) Love happens when you open up, whether that’s right now, or ten years from now.
Love has nothing to do with sex. You can love someone and not have sexual desire for them. In fact, and contrary to popular myth, you can experience extremely fulfilling and Grand mal seizure-like orgasmic sex with someone you do not love. The fact is that you exist as love when your heart is unguarded and you cut yourself off from love when you guard your heart. In my view, you can actually learn, or increase your capacity, to love. Love is not something that happens out there in some mysterious way. This capacity or potential to open up is the foundation of true intimacy.
Have you ever met someone and immediately felt an attraction for that person? You meet at a party, or some other social function or internet site and you both hit it off from the start. Sparks fly, you feel as if you have known each other for lifetimes. It’s hard to believe you have just met and you both feel as if you’ve known each other for a long time. The conversation is effortless, and you really enjoy being with this person. Maybe, you think to yourself, “Maybe this is ‘The One’ Eddie is always laughing at. Maybe this is my soulmate, the person I’ve been waiting for all my life!” ::wet knickers:: Have you ever experienced that?
You feel all giddy inside and then the two of you begin seeing each other regularly. You feel a certain “specialness” about the relationship, and you begin spending more time together. IMs, text messages, marathon telephone calls, blah, blah, blah…
You feel: This is meant to be!
This is romantic attraction, infatuation, “falling in love.”
Romantic attraction begins with this powerful feeling of oneness and of bonding, a feeling that you have always known each other. You have probably experienced this feeling for a person at some point in your life. If you have, you know that feeling doesn’t last. I know I’m fucked up for saying this, shoot me. But it’s true. After several months, or if you’re lucky (or unlucky), several years, this powerful romantic attraction wears off.
Then the unthinkable inevitably happens. This magical person who was going to be “The One,” who was going to give you everything you ever wanted, who was going to bring endless love into your life, seems to turn into precisely the person who does not give you what you want.
Eventually, relationships based on romantic attraction always crash and burn and result in not getting the love you desire.
Romantic attraction is based on a script imprinted in your psyche during childhood. There are a great many books, therapists, and workshops, etc. out there clearly explaining that those people to whom we are attracted are exactly those people who embody the qualities, good and bad, of our parents. Whatever our parents didn’t give us enough of (i.e., love, attention, praise, freedom), is exactly what we will not get from our romantically chosen partner.
The reason why you feel as if you “already know” your romantic partner is because you did know him or her: the parental imprint on your childhood psyche. The reason for the “specialness” you feel for this person is that you unconsciously hope to continue the relationship you had with your parents and finally get the love you have always wanted, the acceptance you always desired, the fulfillment your heart has always craved, but have never received.
In addition, because you have unconsciously chosen your parents as your partners, you have chosen someone who will not give you what you always wanted in exactly the way that our parents didn’t. And here’s the kicker (and what always gets me): even if your lover could give you what you wanted you won’t accept it because it’s not part of your script. Your imprinted childhood script will not let you believe it’s real.
What happens is that as the thrill of being “in love” wears off, your love interest seems perfectly adapted to cause you pain. He or she has this amazing ability to push your buttons and hurt you. The person who used to bring out the best in you now seems to bring out the worst, just by being herself or himself. And guess what? You do the same for your partner.
Because romantic attraction is based on qualities in your partner that you unconsciously recognize from your childhood experiences, you’re doomed to be as fulfilled or unfulfilled by your partner’s love as you were by your parent’s.
Love isn’t a feeling people, but so many people have had children as a result of a feeling.
There is a way out of the merry-go-round folks, but that’s for another day, another post.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…
For those looking to explore this subject further from the POV preseneted here, I have included a couple of resource.
General Theory of Love (click here for a review): Written by three psychiatrists, this book looks into how early childhood experiences mold our later relationships. It’s a little bit dense, but it is about recent science written in elegant language. I first read about “neurological imprinting” in this book. This book will challenge all your previously held assumptions about love. LOL
Reinventing Your Life (click here): I have given this book away as gifts so many times, the authors should cut me a check. I first learned about Schemas (life patterns, life-scripts, or life-traps) here. I was so impressed with the approach, I went a trained in this modality. This is not a self-help book in the common sense. There are actual exercises and homework geared to help you identify and break from habitual patterns of behavior.
Schema Therapy (click here): If you want to look at a quick and simple explanation of Schema Therapy, this site will help. You can also look for therapists trained in schema therapy
Emotional Alchemy (click here): This was the book that led me to Schema therapy. It’s schema therapy but from a Buddhist perspective. Another book I’ve given away as gifts countless times.
Attracting Genuine Love (click here): Sometimes the husband/ wife team of Gay and Katie Hendricks get a bit too commercial for my tastes, but this here is an excellent example of how we often look for love in all the wrong places with all the wrong people.