“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” ~Rumi
I was a true romantic. I believed in love at first sight. I knew in my heart my prince charming was out there, and my life would start when he found me.
I sang the love songs. I believed that love started your life, and until you found love you were searching for it, and I searched for it. I very thoroughly searched for it, and more than a couple times believed I had found it. With my life-long passion for all things romantic you may wonder what fickle change of season has me wishing my beloved dead. I assure you Love is vibrantly alive; only freed from the paltry walls of romance.
Paltry walls of romance?!!
Love. Out the nine definitions of love in Webster’s Dictionary we’ll use TWO:
- Warm attachment, enthusiasm or devotion.
- Unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for another such as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others or a person’s adoration of God.
- Gratitude and appreciation.
The rest we relegate to Romance. Love is more usefully defined as the actual heart swell; Love the sensation in your body. The actual feeling experience and NOT the stimulus for the feeling or the object of it or the meaning of it. The pure vibration experience of Love itself.
Experientially we know we are ‘in love’ because, in that exact moment, we are filled up and free from fear. Love cultivates hope, peace and courage. Many people describe it as a warm feeling. Love sometimes makes people physically strong. Someone in a steady flow of Love will actually beam or shine. People in love are less reactive, more tolerant, more inclusive… (go figure) more loving.
Love itself is independent of external experience and stimuli. For example, you can be sitting in the DMV, space out and remember a heartwarming moment. Your heart will swell right there and then in the dingy crowded DMV because it is your heart and (believe it or not) you control the levers.
Love is to be distinguished from…
Romance and externally inspired or conditional love.
Also a fun and important part of life, but not the same thing. FIVE of the nine definitions of love fit in here under romantic and conditional love:
- 1. strong affection for another, attraction based on sexual desire, affection based on admiration or common interests
- the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration
- a god (such as Cupid or Eros) or personification of love
- an amorous episode : love affair
- the sexual embrace : copulation
Romance is the art of attraction and seduction. It is the expression of passion and affection. It is often the search for self, validation and fulfillment (notice I said search not discovery). Romantic love is exciting and full of jittery hope. Seduction is rich and decadent. So fun!
However, there are some serious flaws. Look around — it’s easy to see by results that our loyalty to romantic love betrays us. Half of adult Americans are unmarried (highest percentage in history), and half of marriages end in divorce.
To my long searching view Cupid must be having drinks with lunch.
We’ve tangled the issue. Love, sex and romance are snarled into one tight ball. In love songs, magazines, movies, even in psychology studies: romance, sex and love appear interchangeable. Very intelligent and educated people mix them up (I did!). However, they are each separate. Love, sex and romance are independent factors that sometimes coincide. You can love someone you do not have sex with, and vice versa. You can have romantic feelings for someone far before you might love them. You can lust for someone you find otherwise unappealing (hot, but…). Contrary to every beer commercial ever, lust is NOT love and sex does NOT lead to love (most of the time).
Lust and romance can deepen into affection and attachment. However if you and your beloved are not compatible (or determined) enough to form an attachment before the lust wears off, the relationship disintegrates.
Going to a bar to find love has far worse odds than Vegas.
If you’re going for sex you may beat the house.
According to Helen Fisher, Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University:
“The sex drive evolved principally to motivate individuals to seek sexual union with any appropriate member of the species.” p414
Lust isn’t picky or thoughtful. That magnetic attraction you feel when you meet and connect with someone is not the fairytale destiny we were promised. There are no universal forces urging us toward eternal happiness, just hormones programmed to reproduce. PLUS that addictive chemistry that starts off many relationships has a life span of 18 months to 3 years. After that the chemistry dies, even if you’re perfect, rich, young and beautiful.
Disappointing, I know, but there is good news. Knowledge is power.
If it’s sex you want, that seems pretty easy these days. If it’s Love you want, at least you can stop wasting time chasing other things.
Here is the elusive secret. As you embrace this truth into the layers of your life you will incrementally free yourself of the cultural romantic delusion and begin the journey into true Love:
LOVE IS AN INSIDE JOB.
You are the Love receiver/transmitter. Love is free and abundant in the Universe. There is no shortage. You cannot feel all the Love and take it from anyone else. Love is in the fabric of who we are. It is generative and multiplies. We are very skilled at choosing not love, but Love is there just the same. No matter how awful your parents and grandparents and siblings and teachers and other people were, no matter what trauma you’ve lived through or even perpetrated, you have a current capacity for Love and that can be expanded. It is expanded each time you focus on anything inside your mind or outside around you that helps you feel love. From a puppy to a memory to a sunset. Yes it is that simple. But I challenge you to begin today because it is not easy.
All the fear, judgement, remorse and grief we pushed into the unconscious forms a web around the heartspace. Have you noticed some people fear Love? Love can shine a light on things we’ve been avoiding. As you Love your capacity increases. Like water it can slowly dissolve the shadows that contain it. However, as those shadows dissolve we might release unfelt emotions, allow in uncomfortable realizations, face things about ourselves we really hoped weren’t true…. We may have to forgive ourselves and a couple other people. That web of shadow was unconscious for a reason. Dissolving it, while amazing and awesome and entirely worth it afterwards, can suck.
Here are some other people who say it’s worth choosing Love:
I believe that every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear. — Oprah Winfrey
The more you choose love, the more love is in your life. It gets easier and easier. — Melissa Etheridge
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Want sex? Go to a bar or turn on a dating app. Want love? Practice loving.
Begin today! You have everything you need to experience more Love.