Thread the middle way. This is a mantra I typically espouse and live by. However, I do believe in exceptions when it comes to loving someone in a relationship. I choose to love without moderation. Loving without moderation means that I may open myself up to great potential pain. However, I understand that being able to feel that pain is what gives love its fire. It fuels understanding of a joy that is undiminished or muted. The beauty of love is that within these extremes lies balance of joy. There is a difference between loving without moderation and seeking out manic love experiences. The former comes from a deep understanding of love. The latter is destructive and is typically born from addictive habits.
The following are some of the guidelines of love that I live by:
1. Love deeply. Don’t be afraid to go to those emotional centers that scare you. Let those walls down. Love is frightening, yet liberating. You will never understand its true power if you love with constraint and fear.
2. Love wisely. Loving deeply doesn’t mean you should give your love foolishly. Learn to recognize any destructive patterns you have had in the past when it comes to choosing partners. This may also mean to recognize any dissonance you bring to the table. Work on loving from a place of purity and clarity. Sowing the right seeds are critical.
3. Don’t hold anything back. Bend every rule you have for yourself that has ever held you back from truly loving someone. The irony is that those rules and walls that you have created in order to protect yourself hold you back from realizing love’s true potential.
4. Love is selfless. Living in love can unlock your utmost potential as a human being when it is given selflessly without personal gain. You may think that when giving love it must be reciprocated. However, this disrupts the natural flow of loving someone.
5. Love unconditionally. If you find yourself seeking quid pro quo, then there may be a flaw in communication within the relationship or you may be with someone who is holding themselves back. Recognize either of these two and address them directly instead of developing conditional love dissonance.
6. Love with a blank slate. Many of us will take on different lovers throughout our lives. Learn to recognize that each time you love it is unique to that singular experience and not fit for comparison. Each experience we have can teach us the different degrees and meanings of love. There is no need to make comparisons or cherry pick aspects from different relationships. Look for the best love in each experience and build upon the greatness that you have learned over time. Concurrently, you may have chosen to only experience love with one person your entire life. If you feel this person is your soul mate, then do not let doubt enter your mind. Wondering what else there is will lead nowhere but towards dissolution of the relationship.
7. Don’t fear emotional pain. This is akin to my 3rd rule of not holding back. Loving from a place of fear and doubt is unhealthy. I would much rather have known emotional pain than not have known love. Being afraid of pain is also akin to being afraid of failure. However, you fail before you ever begin.
8. Don’t mistake obsession or infatuation for love. Many of us make this mistake. We grow enamored by the idea of a person or become unhealthily fixated upon a person. It may be physical attributes or behavior attributes that we obsess over. This is not love. It is us seeing a partial picture of someone and thinking this fulfills the criteria of love.
9. Maintain independence. Maintaining ones own independence in a relationship is critical to not following a path of co-dependence when loving someone. I am a sucker for the romantic notion of not being able to live without the other half of your soul or the person you have given all of your love to if it is truly a great romance. There is a difference between saying, “I can’t live without…” vs “I can’t function without…” Though, even the former can straddle co-dependent territory. No matter what romantic notions I have, I still maintain my own independence in order to strike a balance with the person I love. The last thing I want is for my partner to feel they are critical to my well being and that I can’t take care of myself.
10. Love yourself. This may be the most important rule I have for myself. How can you give love if you cannot love even yourself? What you bring to the table is critical and if you come from a damaged state then you bring that damage to the love you have for someone else. You will try to fill the void of love for yourself with someone else. This is neither fair to the other person nor healthy for yourself.
These are some of the guidelines I have discovered in my explorations of love within the context of a relationship. Feel free to add to this list and let me know what guidelines you live by. I wish you all the love in the world!
– Loving Rabbit