IT’S 2013: BEGIN WITH LOVE (Part 4 of 4)
Greetings and welcome to my post. The purpose of this post is to engage in conversation about building trusting relationships. I believe that we are all created for relationships and what gives our lives meaning and purpose is to know that we are loved and accepted. When we have happy, purposeful, and meaningful relationships, then our lives become meaningful because we are loved and accepted by someone. Meaningful relationships really do bring hope to our lives.
So, it is 2013 and I suggest you began your year with love. Learn to build a great foundation for the rest of the year by learning how to love and be loved. Build a reputation for 2013 of becoming a loving person and learn how to love people so that you are investing in the most important topic for your life: Loving People. Think about it—by the end of 2013 if you have become a more loving person and people really have benefited from the way you have loved them, then you will have a meaningful year becoming a person who loved.
So, what do I mean when I say love? Sure, there are many different definitions of how to describe love. But for the purpose of this writing, I would like to invite you to consider this definition: Love is seeking and doing the best for another. When we love someone, we bend our heart, mind, and energies toward the betterment of someone else. That is what loving people do. (Special thanks to John Townsend’s book, “Loving People.”)
Yes, I know, finally I am writing about this area of love. I mean really, is this not the first and most important area of love when we think of this topic? Where is the love, the draw of romance, the excitement of passion, the fulfillment of sexual love? Our society worships this type of love, books, and magazines write about this, and films and television all view romantic love as the highest, the greatest, and best type of love. In many ways, our culture is addicted to romantic love.
But while romantic love can be the most rewarding, it can also be the most confusing. Romanic love can excite us, invites us, frustrates us, hurts us, and makes all of us do things that don’t seem sane. We chase and pursue this type of love and oftentimes more than not, we end up disappointed and dismayed that we cannot find romantic love and instead we end up alone, tired and sometimes choose to give up, thinking we can never find this type of love. In the end, the pursuit of romantic love only leaves many people in our society frustrated, defeated, and without hope.
But at the same time, romantic love is very important to our lives. We all want to feel and experience the deepest connection of really being known and loved for who we are through the areas of touching, kissing, and physical closeness. We all do long for this and when two people are participating in a healthy romantic love, it feels really, really good. To give of your body and to receive this from someone else does create the deep intimacy we all want and need from another person. Romantic love and intimacy can be really good for our lives and our character.
Consider romantic love as making a cake. Think of it this way. Bonding love, restoring love, and accepting love is the ‘dough’ of a delicious cake. Building a great tasting cake starts with a great dough. And when you add the frosting, then the cake really takes on the great flavor that your mouth savors and enjoys. In the same way, romantic love is the frosting of the cake which makes the cake so delicious and rewarding. Romantic love is the pleasure of love just like frosting is the pleasure of a great cake.
That is why I have talked about this area of love last, which when you think about it, is opposite of what our culture focuses on. When we focus on the other three areas of love first, then we will see the benefits and rewards of forming a deep romantic and sexual intimate love with someone. As you know, that is why our culture so focuses on romantic love first because the underlying message is this: I will give you romantic love early if you give me all the other areas of love later. But this strategy rarely works. Romantic love should be the caboose and not the engine of the love train and when we get things backward, then we end up disappointed. Thus, if our primary focus is to find romance, and we neglect love, we are at risk to have a series of intense, temporary, and unsatisfying relationships.
Let me ask you to consider some of the following areas in which we put romantic love first which gets in the way of taking the time to form and build a lasting and meaningful relationship based upon bonding love, restoring love and accepting love. Can you see how romantic love hurts more than helps the relationship?
When romantic love is used as a substitutes for closeness.
When there is a serious problem that is being avoided.
When there is a harmful mistreatment of each other.
When there is injury and pain that has not been healed.
When romantic feelings are giving out of defiance and resentment.
When romantic love is used as a weapon to hurt or use one another.
The challenge for all of us is this: do you want to take the time to build a great casserole from a slow cooking crock pot that takes all day to cook? Or do you want to enjoy a casserole from a packaged dish that you pop into the microwave for five minutes for instant gratification? Romantic love can be instant love. It can be quick and intense and it can be worshiped or emphasized as the definition for a close relationship. But used this way, romantic love will rarely or never last as it is quick and intense and is built more on the physical feeling than the substance of the relationship. The swinging and craziness of romantic love from Hollywood to soap operas to television to magazines is chasing the physical feeling rather than the truth. And the physical feelings of romantic love become the focus of the relationship rather than the truth of bonding, restoring, and accepting love.
So slow down, take all the time you need to build a long and lasting relationship with someone that will go the distant. Do a marathon not a 100 yard dash. Delay the gratification of romantic love and instead focus on building and participating in a bonding, restoring, and accepting love first. I promise you that when you do this, you will experience the frosting of all the good work you have put into the mixture of the relationship which is the foundation for a long term and satisfying relationship. Practice the areas of love first that I have written for this blog and you then will experience the rewards of romantic love.
Thanks for reading and I welcome your feedback and reaction.
Phil Kiehl, LMFT, M.Div.