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10 manifestations of love

ONE – LOVE IS…more than biological

There certainly are changes that occur at a biochemical level when you “fall in love”. There are even evolutionary factors that have hard-wired certain preferences into our subconscious that effect who we fall in love with. Yet falling in love is not just biological and is no mere psychological trick, it is a real and positive state if approached in the right way. M. Scott Peck author of The Road Less Travelled said, “…the temporary loss of ego boundaries involved in falling in love and in sexual intercourse not only leads us to make commitments to other people from which real love may begin but also gives us a foretaste of (and therefore may be an incentive for) the more lasting mystical ecstasy that can be ours after a lifetime of love.”

TWO – LOVE IS…going global

There are differences in how the West and the East treat love. The simplest way of understanding the difference between the West and the Rest is that Western cultures are individualist, whereas Asian cultures, for example, are collectivist. American culture places much more importance on the significance of a person’s emotions, and the Chinese focus on the importance of the family and the community. Whereas an American may ask, ‘How does my heart feel?’, a Chinese man or woman will ask, ‘What will other people say?’ However, as time goes on the gap between the cultures is closing. A study of Russian, Japanese and American feelings about love and relationships recently found that while the parents and grandparents held vastly differing views on love and its role in marriages, the young adults held similar attitudes and experiences towards romance. The preoccupation with passionate love is spreading throughout the world’s youth, probably due to phenomena such as the internet.

THREE – LOVE IS…giving your partner time

Love begins with attention. When you are in the dating and in-love phases, your partner gets most, if not all, of your attention. However, the modern world is a busy place and slowly, distractions such as work, friends, kids and family interrupt your attention and deflect it away from your partner. To maintain love you must make the effort to devote time to your partner and to reminding yourself what your partner needs and attending to those needs. Don’t fall for the trap of assuming that your love will continue without you making the effort to cultivate it.

FOUR – LOVE IS…finding a “soul mate”

Souls mates are not always life partners. The term “soul mate” describes a relationship that exists on a deeper, more spiritual level than most of your other relationships. A soul mate is someone you identify as having a ‘bigger’ connection with. It’s an attraction that you can’t ignore. Our most familiar concept of soul mate is ‘life-long partner’ yet soul mates are not always in your life for a long time. Sometimes your soul mate introduces drama into your life and sometimes they take you on a gentler ride. Either way your soul mate challenges you in ways that stretch your sense of self and whether these soul mates are in your life for a few months or a few years the intensity of the connection will always be the same and the lessons learned will be just as valuable. The key to finding your soul mate is to develop your own life and follow your passions. One of the ways to do this is by finding your passion and be confident. When you open yourself to the world at large you become more aware of just how many opportunities and people come into your life every day.

FIVE – LOVE IS…more than an orgasm

What may stand in the way of bringing sex and love into an harmonious relationship is the assumption that sex equals orgasm. Sexual intimacy represents a treasure trove of tools for pleasure, and in fact suggests that delaying or conserving orgasm is the ultimate experience. Creating an understanding that sexuality can be defined broadly and individually is a key step towards finding a combination between sexuality and love that satisfies your personal needs. Sex is a way of creating and sharing a special kind of energy, the practice of which can help bind two people together deeply and intimately, enhancing the love they share.

SIX – LOVE IS…communicating

Effective communication is the best preventative of trouble for couples. This doesn’t mean always coming to a solution. Marital research shows that about 80 per cent of problems don’t even have to be solved when couples talk through issues; it’s simply about coming to a mutual understanding. Certainly any ongoing issues – those that keep cropping up – will require some kind of agreement, but it is important to approach difficult conversations in the correct way. One of the most important things to do is approach communication with a positive attitude. If you go into a conversation angry, upset or negative, the conversation will inevitably be unproductive. Therefore it’s probably best to save these difficult issues for a time when you and your partner are relaxed and you’ve both had time to think about what you would like to say and when you can offer reasonable solutions to the problem. Asking questions of each other is a good idea. This helps you both to clarify what the issue is, how each of you feel, and what your proposed solutions are. From there you may find you are both actually on the same track or that a compromise is within reach. Most important is listening. You need to actively listen to your partner, repeat what they’ve said if you need to clarify a point. Make sure they can see that you are serious about hearing them out.

SEVEN – LOVE IS…making the effort to love your SELF

From the Buddhist perspective those who lack self love are lazy. That laziness has three parts; indolence, cowardice, and distracted busy-ness. Indolence refers to not doing something even though you know that it is good and should be done. Cowardice leads to you underestimating your qualities and capabilities. It is cowardice in the sense that is creating reasons not to act and hiding behind a protective wall of supposed inadequacy. The third type of laziness that blocks self love may actually seem the opposite of laziness; it is seeming very busy, being very active but wasting time and energy on meaningless activities that will not accomplish anything in the long run. When you do many things for no real purpose, you fail to focus on what is truly worthwhile and your path has no clear direction. Lack of self-love will lead to some unproductive actions at best and some dreadful actions at worst. If you want to create self love then you will need to bravely face who you really are and the first part of that is accepting that you are no worse, or better, than anyone else. Further steps to self-love can be found in the article on page 88 of this publication.

EIGHT – LOVE IS…being a friend

Friends are people who can provide shelter from life, a harbour to rest in when the storms of day to day living, career, relationships or dealing with family threaten to bring you undone. While friendship is commonly accepted as the non sexual sister to romantic love, there is often an undercurrent of attraction at the heart of a friendship. While attraction may be something you most think of in a sexual sense, in the context of friendship it’s really more like magnetism, revealing, through those to whom you are drawn, something essential about your tastes. The good friends listen, and the better friends provide the advice you don’t want to hear or admit to yourself. Other friends will end up in the mud with you. You may even feel that you’re more honest with your friends than you are with your family or partner, as if the space created by a lack of sexual connection allows a deeper kind of emotional intimacy. Friends share your milestones and friends of the same sex share not just emotional milestones but physical ones too. The commonality of the same physicality creates an understanding not only of each other’s hearts or minds, but also of each other’s bodies that’s beyond what’s possible within in a heterosexual romantic relationship. Friendship has no legal status and makes no demand but it is the love that carries you through life.

NINE – LOVE IS…self-sacrifice

Altruism figures prominently in Buddhism where the qualities of love and compassion are utterly fundamental. “I consider compassion to be the basis and supreme support of humankind,” says His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his book, The Spirit of Peace. “This eminent quality that induces us to love our neighbour, to come to his aid when he is suffering, and to forget ourselves for his sake, is one that only human beings are capable of awakening. And whenever they do so, they are the first to derive happiness from it.” In comparison, a love that is based on attachment is considered by Buddhists to be both precarious and limited. True compassion is free from attachment and is expressed spontaneously and unconditionally, like that of a mother who expects nothing from her child in return. “It is such a demanding form of love,” remarks the Dalai Lama, “that it gives birth to an indomitable desire to make all beings happy. It strives ceaselessly to ensure that everyone is free of suffering and of everything that brings about suffering.” For the Buddhist love has as many forms as hearts that hold it, yet in the end the personal must give way to the impersonal, the selfish to the altruistic. This is Metta – love that is totally and completely at peace.

TEN – LOVE IS…forgiveness

We are told that God, the Father, is ever forgiving of our transgressions and His Mercy is unfathomable, mysterious and without prejudice. Agape is God-love and may seem unattainable but it does find its human counterpart in the eleventh commandment: ‘love one another’. What is inevitably true is that if you are to love others then you must be able to forgive. Of all human qualities, forgiveness is one of the hardest challenges you will ever have to face in your life. Sometimes, as in the love of a mother for her child, it is easy. Most of the time however, for the majority of us, finding forgiveness can be a slow, hard and challenging process. Yet, you must learn to forgive if you are ever to grow emotionally, spiritually and even physically because love, real love, can and does change a person’s appearance. The most beautiful thing a human being can do, says the Torah, is to forgive evil.

 

Terry Robson is the editor of WellBeing magazine, a broadcaster, and an author. His latest book “Failure IS an Option” is published through ABC Books.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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