I fall in love a lot. I don’t mean with romantic partners, but whoever I’m falling in love with, there’s an air of romance. Because it’s euphoric. It’s that beginning bubble, the you’re-so-amazing-I-want-to-know-everything-about-you-and-share-you-with-my-world. Falling in love with new friends, colleagues, clients and neighbours feels like joy infused curiosity.
Hey there fellow human, I’m so glad you’re here. Thanks for sharing who you are with me!
The best thing we can do with our love is allow it to heal and create. When we come together in friendship or romance, in business or community, our coming together and loving of one another gets to be a soothing balm over scrapes from the past or sparks of inspiration for what’s yet to come, always allowing for something that cannot be achieved on the solo mission.
But loving people and falling in love are completely different things. Falling in love is a suspension of reality, a warm bubbling bottle of insanity that’s both blinding and enveloping.
Loving people, really loving people, is a discipline, a practice, a choice.
What happens when the people we’ve fallen in love with start to piss us off, or make demands we don’t want to fill? What happens when their idiosyncrasies become annoying, their life choices dumfounding and their communication activating? What happens when the people we love need more than we can give or don’t give what we need? What happens when they disappoint, disappear or disagree?
Whether relationships are mirrors, projections of our unresolved parental issues, opportunities for shadow practice, or some other psychological theory in action, here is a partial list of how to stay in, stay awake and stay in love.
Compassion: No matter how conscious we are, we’re always blind to something. There’s always some ignorance there. When we notice poor behaviour in others and can hold that poor behaviour in our heart, not as a slash against their character or as evidence of what’s wrong with them, but as the possibility that their own lack of seeing is impacting their capacity to make another choice, we can generate compassion. We can love.
Discernment: But say no to idiot compassion! Having compassion doesn’t mean condoning behaviour. We can really love each other by cultivating the capacity to discern what does and doesn’t work for us, what we’re up for and what we’re not, what we yearn for in connection and what we must reject. When we can discern what we open to and what we close to in relationship, we can better communicate that to the other.
Boundaries: Loving people doesn’t mean enmeshment or merging. In really deep and intimate relationships, a gorgeous goal is interdependence. Knowing and expressing boundaries allows for a healthy sense of autonomy and lets the other know what they can and can’t expect from you. People often fear setting boundaries as they don’t want to hurt or reject others. But this a very, very loving move. When our boundaries are clear, we limit misunderstandings and unmet expectations.
Curiosity: The longer we know someone, the more we know someone, the less curiosity we tend to bring to the relationship. This can drop us right in the centre of cyclical habits and automatic responses. We make assumptions and finish sentences. Curiosity is one of the most generous qualities we can bring. It wards off arguments and gives everyone space to grow and change. When we already know everything about the other, even if we’re wrong, we don’t get to find out.
Tolerance: When we fall in love, the differences in the other are alluring, captivating, fascinating. Add a few years, and those differences can feel like a skin rash, one that we bring indignant righteousness to. Discernment and boundaries really help to bolster tolerance because we know what we’re cool with and what we’re not. Compassion and curiosity help us to soften and make room for tolerance. When we can tolerate in others what we don’t understand or even agree with, not only do we breathe space into relationship, we actually expand what’s possible and create a road to walk down that our own limited seeing or ignorance would otherwise close off to and walk away from.
Acceptance: Tolerance and Compassion both have roles within acceptance. But not only do we look to accept the other, we look to accept what is. There are different dynamics in each relationship. When we can be accepting of what’s happening in the moment, we’re more present and awake and this gives us greater access to cultivating the qualities above. Acceptance also speaks to the elegant act of receptivity. Not only do we accept the other, accept what’s happening, accept the present moment, we also practice accepting the love that others are giving to us, which can actually be quite challenging to do. Acceptance is a gateway to receptivity. Acceptance is a conduite, allowing love to pass freely between us.
May you go love who you love. And love some more.