A piece on love
My view on love and relationships has taken quite the turn in perspective over the past few years. I want to share my current thoughts and feelings surrounding this subject in hopes of helping others by opening doors to new ways of thinking about love and relationships. I am writing this because I feel the idea of “love” has been confused and warped into something other than what the meaning of the word “love” actually stands for, and what it should mean to "love" someone.
Love is something everyone experiences, over and over again. There are 3 main kinds of love. Philia refers to a friend kind of love (brotherly, love of the mind). Eros is an erotic kind of love (sexual/love of the body). And Agape is unconditional love of all things (love of the soul).
“Love languages” is something that has come up frequently over the past few years for me. From my understanding, it is the ability in which you show and wish to receive love. There are five main kinds of love languages: gift giving, (material), quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion) and physical touch. A big part of why relationships don’t work out is that the couples' love languages don’t match and they don’t know how or they are too afraid to communicate openly about it with each other. This is based on how they feel deep down in certain situations, with no other influences or pressure. I am beginning to understand and recognize my love languages - it takes time and experimenting.
Although I do not believe in love at first sight (I don’t judge a book by its cover), I believe in soul mates. I completely resonated with my ex-boss’s philosophy about soul mates. He explained his view that soul mates are not always romantic, they are two souls destined to meet by fate, to guide each other down their respective paths, to teach them lessons, to make them better, to break them down and build them up. I have had many soul mates who have taught me many lessons. Some I've let break me down into sharp pieces, which I put back together and grew stronger, and some who I've let build me up by putting me on a humble pedestal, show-casing my value and worth, and reminded me of my power. Some showed me how to be soft, while some drove me to the point to put my foot down and scream "This is enough!". Others have supported me to listen to my heart, follow my dreams and make them reality.
Lessons I’ve learned
I now have such a different perspective on relationships compared to my first experience in a romantic relationship. I have gone through some unhealthy ones that were completely my choice, but going through them made me resilient and understanding. One of my first realizations was that I cannot fix people. It has to be their choice to change. We are all on different paths and I am not responsible for anyone’s happiness. My first few relationships, I picked (unconsciously) as projects to try to work on and fix, but learned eventually that the projects always ended up the same - with me being hurt. Then I learned that I became reliant once I was in a relationship where I didn’t have to fix the guy. I would always ask for permission to do anything and that sense of being trapped that I created for myself made it hard for me to be open to communicate, which left a lot of things burning inside of me.
I realized I needed my space within the relationship. I realized I needed to better the relationship with myself before sharing that with another person. I am so grateful for the last two years that I have been single. It was lonely at first and I missed a lot of aspects from being with someone, but it was the most valuable time of growth. I have learned to love myself. Once I moved into my own basement suite after breaking my longest relationship so far, I learned to love my space and my independence. I loved dancing while cooking and doing the dishes naked, I could sing in the shower and talk to myself like a crazy person, laugh out loud at books and TV shows and ball my eyes out into a pillow. I learned to comfort myself, to try new things that I was scared to do alone. During that time was when my love for mountain biking really kicked off. I’d always biked with someone, the one time I had tried going alone while in a relationship, I got 10 minutes into the easy trail, got scared and went back. I broke past that barrier. I learned how to make smart choices on my bike while riding solo, I overcame my fear of the forest and being lost on trails, of the dark, and of talking to people to ask for help. I trained by myself and raced by myself, but also said yes to opportunities to ride with others that invited me out. I have grown a lot in every aspect of my life, but my individuality and spirituality has particularly blossomed. My way of thinking has completely changed and I love it. I have respect for myself and for others. I love my ability to choose my own emotions (most of the time), to be non-judgmental and open to anything and everyone.
Find your Happiness
I have been lucky enough, throughout my relationships, to be able to find happiness in other areas besides my significant other. Many people place their whole idea of happiness in their partner, which sets them up for failure. When struggling in my past relationships, I would always turn to close friends, sports and nature. I would ride my bike in the rain, slide around on slippery roots, become covered in a blanket of mud, laugh and curse at the trails. I would run around Elk Lake, mesmerized by the glassy reflection of the water, the swaying leaves and trees, listen to my breathing and footsteps. I would call my closest friends and vent and accept their hugs and words of advice. I would go to the beach and sit, look and listen to the waves. I would pick up rocks and imagine the person or problem I was trying to let go of was inside the rock, was the rock, and I would throw them as hard and far as I could into the waves. I would hike up a mountain, let the sweat drip off my body and soak my clothes, stare at the view, take in the new perspective and thank my body for being able to carry me up the giant rock. I would do yoga and move and breathe however felt right and good for my body. I would play piano and watch the notes bounce around in my head. I would draw and let the lines pour out of my fingers. I’m grateful to have the ability to recognize and create my own happiness. Even when it felt like my heart was broken, I wasn’t. Everyone needs to practice this - create your happiness, and you’ll never be afraid to fall in love again.
Recently had a few conversations surrounding the idea of letting go of attachment. This is one of the questions that I was asked: “Does that mean you shouldn’t fall in love?” My immediate answer was no. After thinking about it for a while, I figured out how to word my train of thought. I said no because being in love does not have to be an attachment. If you realize that those feelings of love are your own feelings that you, and you alone, are responsible for, then attachment is not an issue. It is when people become reliant on others and start saying things like “you are my happiness, I can’t live without you, you are my life, you have my heart, I’m yours”, that you are putting yourself in a trapped, reliant situation. Society has warped this part of love in which it is the norm to have an “other half”. It is normal to say, “Let me ask the boss”, before committing to something or making a decision. That's not to say that you should not care for your partner's feelings or situation when making a decision that might affect them, just do it respectfully and equally, not like a child asking for candy.
YOU come first
I (you & everyone) deserve someone on the same page, with similar beliefs, values, lifestyle, willingness to communicate openly and respectfully, willing to work hard and make it work. Personally, I believe that being in a relationship is still about maintaining individuality - I am still completely myself, and they are still completely themselves. But we are individually together. Sharing time with each other. I cannot, I will not, be reliant on anyone. I am responsible for my choices and my life and I want it to stay that way. I will make my own decisions and I will not ask permission. That’s not to say I won’t accept or ask for help when I need it. At this point in time in my life, I do not want a partner. I am completely content on my own, and I need this time to be by myself. Over the past couple years of being single, I have 100% accepted who I am, I have found my independence, I love myself fully and will continue to discover more of myself and my capabilities on this planet. I am not trying to say this in a selfish way, nor do I believe it’s selfish. I continue to work on myself everyday; I work on my health, my conscious thought, my breathing, my interactions with others. I’m done wishing certain things about myself were different because I realize that I was gifted this body and this life, and I will honor that with everything that I am. How incredibly fortunate are we? To be here, now, on this planet, in these vessels. If everyone treated themselves with the utmost respect and care FIRST, their world would blossom, and so would their relationships.