To my partner and ex-partner who showed me what True Love is
People sometimes ask me why I share only negative experiences. The stories I tell about my life are all doom and gloom. That's because happy stories are much harder to describe. What's there to talk about? Also, sharing stories about luck and happiness feels a bit like showing off. I believe people who love showing off are vain, insecure and shallow. I don't trust such people.
Last but not least I don't think I learn as much from happy stories as I do from negative experiences. In fact, I started appreciating some of my happy stories only after I had a few very negative experiences - just as a point of comparison. Don't we all learn more and grow from negative experiences? Alas.
On the other hand, it'd be unfair not to share something positive that I learnt about love. Unfair to other people who may be going through heartache or don't believe in love at all. Unfair to myself - not recognising the positive experience. But most importantly, unfair to those people who showed me what True Love was.
I won't talk about the well known truths here, such as 'true love is unconditional', it doesn't ask much in return and so on. I'd debate this. Unconditional love isn't a common thing in our world, and the closest approximation to unconditional love would be our love for our children, but even this doesn't always work because way too many people put some expectations on their children. If we could love unconditionally, we wouldn't be here to start with.
So below are my thoughts on what True Love means for me, at this stage of my life.
True Love is tangible
It's not JUST A FEELING or JUST A MOOD or JUST A PASSION. Not something you can throw away, forget about, rationalise, swap around or replace with another feeling. It's not something we can jump in and then out when we're bored or tired. Well, we can jump out of the relationship and replace a partner, but it's impossible to escape True Love in our heart once it's there.
True Love is deliberate
Like anything else that is tangible in this world, True Love starts with awareness and conscious intent. The more self-aware the person is the better chances are they'll recognise when True Love comes into their life. Ever seen people who meet their True Love and don't realise what it is? Then spending years in regrets about the past and lost opportunities. I can't express how painful this experience is even though I've been clever enough to avoid it.
True Love requires work
It requires determination, courage, effort and perseverance. I don't like the term 'working on relationships'. We can't work on relationships - this somehow implies we're working on another person, or manipulating. What does 'working on relationships' even mean?
We can only work on ourselves. On our intentions, our attitudes, our beliefs, our mindset. That's why I prefer to say 'working on love', or working on our attitude to love. Not shying away, not giving up - it's about making sure the flame in our heart is alive.
True Love is about equality
Partners should be relatively equal - in upbringing, social background, financial background, intellectual level and the level of their emotional awareness. True Love can't survive in a relationship where one person deeply depends on another. Most of us are just human beings who won't have an honest and open conversation with someone who isn't our equal, we won't respect such a person. I'd question why such a partnership exists in the first place.
Our partner, who truly loves us, should challenge us, in a good way, and push us to grow. The one who truly loves us will have a vested interest in our growth, because if we grow, we'll push them to grow, too.
True Love is the driving force of growth
We grow through relationships when other people reflect our weaknesses back to us and we can eliminate these weaknesses. So we can grow and change for the better. However, change also requires intent and determination, and effort. We won't go that extra mile to change for someone we think we can easily replace with another person, or whom we don't respect, or who's the source of some kind of financial benefit only. (Financial benefit is a very poor incentive for deeper personality change, but that's another conversation).
Jealousy is a good example of that. Jealousy is caused by insecurity and shortage of love in our childhood. But it's easier to replace a partner who triggers jealousy in us, then working on our own insecurity and get rid of jealousy.
To me, obligation is not love. Letting someone be open, honest and free - that's love. It's got to come natural and it's got to be real. - Dolly Parton
True Love is honest
It absolutely has to be. Life is hard enough, relationships are often challenging and our personalities are far from perfect. Bring in dishonesty, games, manipulation and confusion - and everything becomes twice as complicated.
Yes, honesty can be scary, but without honesty there's no true change and no true development for the better. Again, I'm not talking about one person trying to manipulate the other into something. Honesty is about being honest with oneself, to start with. Being honest about our own fears, weaknesses, motivation, mistakes, desires and concerns. Also, being honest with the significant other in showing them (perhaps in a diplomatic way, or maybe not so diplomatic way if need be) where their weaknesses are.
And what's the point anyway if we can't be honest and open with our significant other? Sooner or later, especially as we grow older, we get tired of playing games and then what?
True Love gives freedom
It gives freedom to the relationship to grow and develop, where the development is driven by both partners. It gives partners the freedom to talk openly and not expect a stab in the back. True Love gives freedom to disregard what other people say. It gives people the freedom to change. It gives the freedom to let your partner go if they've outgrown the relationship and don't want to stay.
True Love thrives on freedom. Because people would be reluctant to work on that feeling inside if it stifles them. People won't change with a partner who stifles and dominates them.
True Love stays on
Because we deliberately choose to keep this flame alive; we value it. Years and years on, it's still there, because it's our conscious intent to keep it there. If the feeling stays on and we don't want it to be there, it's not True Love, it's a dependency on another person, or unclosed gestalt, and that's - again - a different story.
We can split with our partner, but someone who truly loves you will be there to help if you need them. Because True Love is also about having that special connection, that can be compared to friendship, it's about respect, too. It's about the recognition that your partner contributed to your personal growth, and you've grown WITH their help and not DESPITE them being obstructive.
How wonderful to go beyond wanting and fearing in your relationships. Love does not want or fear anything. - Eckhart Tolle