When Is Love Real?

True Love Couple

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From group participant Jeff: “I wanted to share this with you it is a question Jeff Brown is asking…

Whenever I fell in love in 7 seconds, I was sure I was seeing the soul. And then the stuff came- the defences, habits, patterns. And then it was like, wait a minute, how do we get back to the soul? Where did the real person go? Why can’t we just live in this bliss forever? And then it was like, wait a minute-whose the real person, the one we meet in the triggers, or the one we fall in love with? When is love REAL?”

Joy’s Thoughts on True Love:

First, I will share a piece of my own love story…I had been ‘in love’ before…possibly at times even thought that I had found my ‘true love‘. At those times in my lives, I was not emotionally healthy and did not know what an emotionally healthy relationship looked and/or felt like….so, I found that, after around the second year in those relationships, the love, passion and even my respect for the person began to fade…

In retrospect, I was able to reflect on the relationship and the person and realize that what I fell in love with was simply an illusion…a reflection of what I wanted to see, rather than the truth. In my first marriage, my illusion was busted open the first time my ‘lover’… my  ‘true love’ beat the living daylights out of me…uh, yeah, not the prince charming I thought he was. What a wake up call that was!

In some relationships…the illusion is closer to reality. Maybe the person meets many of your needs, but not quite all, or maybe they are a fantastic person, but the sex leaves you feeling less than satisfied…possibly you are a perfect fit for each other, but there are some external blocks that you just can’t seem to overcome. These relationships are really common.

So, how do we navigate all of this and how do we decide if the love we feel is real? Simple…you know you could be healthy if you had to live without the other person, but you would prefer be together. Feeling like you can’t live without one another is actually not a healthy state of mind…desiring to be with your lover because they enhance your life and you enhance theirs it’s what it’s all about.

You are able to communicate openly with each other and work through challenges..I don’t mean that you won’t ever fight…in fact, some of the deepest lovers have intense fights. For my lover and I, we tend to have one heated fight at least once every few years….but the difference between our fights and the fights of less compatible couples is that we work things through and become stronger after the fight…rather than walk away feeling frustrated and less connected.

When Mountain and I first met…the cards and odds were stacked against us. Things were complex and we each had our own substantial amount of emotional baggage. So, we were really quite systematic in our approach to deciding whether or not we had what it took to be life long lovers… part of the reason we took our realtionship ossibility so seriously is because he already had two kids, I had two babes and a step-daughter from my first marriage…After reflecting and talking into the wee hours of the morn, we decided that we:

1. Were exually compatible (I believe this is far more important than people realize…not only from my personal life, but from my work as a Tantra Educator and Sex Coach as well)

2. Loved each other deeply

3. Had similar life goals

4. Had similar parenting styles

5. Both desired a monogamous, long-term relationship

6. Were able to communicate openly with each other even about the dark stuff

7. Both were fully committed to working through the challenges we knew we’d face…and knew we would face them together

8. Both enjoy a certain amount of alone time, but also deeply enjoy a partnership approach to life

9. Had enough similar interests to be able to entertain one another, but we also had some major differences, which we felt would keep it interesting

10. Although we both knew we ‘could’ live without the other, life seemed a lot more beautiful when we were together and we were both willing to continue to work on our relationship…

I realise this is not the stuff in fairytales…but it is real. Together, we have survived the challenges of mixed families, being from different countries, crazy extended family dynamics, the death of my first husband, who was also the bio-father of 2 of our kids, job loss, huge life challenges, near death experiences, the fear associated with the possibility of a life threatening disease, surgery, financial stress, 5 miscarriages, lack of life planning and a list of additional challenges that would blow most people’s minds. We not only survived these challenges, we faced them together and only occassionally let the stress come between us for brief peridos of time before we reunited our efforts…

 The biggest mistake I see couples make is letting their idealistic view of what a relationship looks like fool them into thinking he is not Mr Right or she is not Ms. Right…that they are just not ‘right for each other’. Also, finding that, over time, if they haven’t done the work and continued to communicate effectively…they are more like strangers living under the same roof. Relationships TAKE WORK, PEOPLE!

 The bottom line: As long as love is in the cards and you have addressed at least some of the above-mentioned relationship questions…LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH!

I would love to have this turn into an on-going conversation because I think many of you in this group are struggling with related questions and challenges.

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6 responses

  1. Real love??? Wow!! That’s a topic for dicussion. When is real love?? Real love (unconditional love) is when your caring for the happiness of the other person comes before any thought of what we might get for ourselves. Real love is a verb not a noun. A richly loving relationship is a natural result of each partner independently learning to make loving decisions.

    • Caroline,

      Thank you for your comments. I must agree with you fully! Love is real when we come to any relationship from love, not need, not conditions, or any other issues that we have brought forth from other sources. Being Love, in all situations.
      As Joy has shared in her post and her life with Mountain, the paths of love are endless, up and down, joyful and sad, difficult and easy, yet maintained through communication, conversation, and yes sometimes fighting through to the solutions.

      • I purposely chose to comment one at a time rather than reading ahead, so that I could see how in line each of our thoughts are on this matter. I was just talking about unconditional love in my response to Caroline and then you, Jeff pooint out ‘no conditions’. Being love in all situations…that is such an excellent point!

        That is similar to what I expressed (technically I wrote that post response from such a deep place I can’t remember exactly what I expressed) but what I feel is vital is that Mountain and I have the ability 99% of the time to face challenges together as a team…in essence being love in all situations…things get tricky and border line dangerously damaging when we give in to the blame game, which can lead to a division of the team mentatlity, which is not ‘being love’.

        Yes, fighting through the solutions…generally, at least in my experience and what I have seen with mnay of the individuals and couples I have worked with, it is generally blame that causes the fight mentality. Blame is different than asking your partner to take responsiblity for a mistake and finding a way to work through the hurt…and when we blame, until we let go of blame, it is often hard to find the solution..

    • Interesting…having you post made me think of something…of my 8 siblings…I only have an unconditionally loving relationship with you and Matt. The other relationships with my siblings are loving, but they tend to give in to jedment of my alternative lifestyle, or my choice to home school the kids, or the fact that I live so far away…you get the idea.

      For the purpose of this comment, I will simply focus on my relationship with you, sis. We have the ability to be who we are, speak our truth without fear of rejection or judgment and to relax into a comfort level that feels deeply satisfying and rejuvenating. We are literally able to ‘be ourselves’ and still be accepted and loved.

      It doesn’t mean that my other sibling relationships are not ‘love’, but they do not hold a candle to the ‘real love’ that we, as sisters have between us. When looking at ‘real love’ in pertnership relationships, beyond communication and all of the other tools necessary for success..it is vitally important that each person feels comfortable being completely honest about who they are and feels acceptance and unconditional love in response.

      The Bottom Line for me: ‘real love’ is unconditional and healthy!

  2. When is love real? Love is real when we know what love is. Can we fall in Love with a person for the few moments during a sexual experience? Do we hold that love within us? What is its purpose?
    This goes back to our first questions in bootcamp, what is awareness? Becoming aware of who we are, how we love, what love is, or what we think love is, is the place of awakening, of recovery of our sexual, loving selves.
    I feel as if I should write my own blog about this, for it is bigger than this space feels to me to respond…
    I have not been in love for a long long time, not in an intimate way! Yet I have had moments of intense bliss created by being present to the world around me. I have not had a sexual experience other than self-pleasuring for longer that I wish to admit. (I just reached out to my community to have an erotic massage share. That may happen within the next few days.)
    My background is Roman Catholic, raised in middle class suburbs, dated girls in my teens and married at 20. The woman I married was my first sexual experience, we taught each other the basic’s. Where we in love, for what we understood love to be. Yet I knew I was attracted to men. We discussed this, and thought it was something I would “grow out of”!! I did not grow out of my sexuality, I grew into it.
    I was in the Air Force, I was surrounded by men for the first time in my life… this is the 1970’s, I fell in love with my best friend, truly madly in love, he was my soul mate, and for years every other relationship was based on that experience. We even had three ways, because what better way to share love with the two people I loved the most, and I could be with him, in a way that would not completely confuse his sexuality.
    Both these relationships came to an end when I began a relationship with an older man, I was just almost 21, he was 35, ex Catholic Priest, he was my introduction into the gay world… From then on life was bars, bathhouses, endless one-night stands. Even though love was always in the air or in the back of my consciousness. I believed in romantic love, monogamy, trust and faithfulness, which I did find in the way I was being in my life, yet this was the life of young gay man!
    Flash forward 20 years, a few lovers, nothing truly long term, maybe six months to a year. I met someone in the Apartment building where I lived, he rescued me from an abusive relationship, gave me a place to live, showed my kindness and tenderness, in time we became partners. This relationship lasted for 7 years, unfortunately it was a product of addiction, my drinking and co-dependancy, and his very masculine Ideals of what a relationship is. We had great sex, but usually under the influence of drugs and drinking. When I got sober, I sought to create intimacy, yet that was something he did not understand, plus I came to understand that he had been cheating on my for years. So in order to maintain my sanity and my sobriety .
    There realization that I did not need another person in my life to fulfill me was a challenge but one I needed to take on. My sexuality took a back seat to my recovery and my search for spirituality… which is another story.
    Did I find love, did I discover when love is real? Maybe, maybe not? Love is bigger that we can imagine, more awesome that our hearts and heads and our sexual beings can express, yet we continue to try.
    Love is real!

    • Wow…that is some intense sharing. I want to honour your bravery! I often scare others with my transparency…as in, they fear for me because I share so openly, but I have found that it is a part of my path…I appreciate finding that type of candid bravery in others…thank you.

      For me, I was abused from 1-14 and then lost my virginity to dat rape, which set in motion a solid four years of, well…dark times. I emerged from the haze of alcohol and loveless relationships to fally head first into another trap…my first marriage…I was, beneath the surface, a bit of a man hater….then I had my first son!

      All had to change…having my boy made me realize the beauty within the male form. To see first hand how unconditionally loving and trusting a boy can be, made me realize that much of the male dominance that goes on in our society is the result of pain, suffering and confusion…be strong..be sensitive…provide for your family…yet be fully available and present…be everything, yet give over much of your power…

      This pressure, over time, combined with the pressure on women…be super woman…provide for your family, yet be the nurturer, even when you’re suffering from sleep deprivation…be a sex kitten, submissive, dominant…all of this gender confusion wreaks havoc on us and on our relationships…

      It is when we accept both the strengths and limitations of our partners and ourselves and find a sense of balance or rhythym if you will to our shared existence that we feel most supported. I think the biggest challenge we face is that we want the perfect partner..when we are faced with our partner’s limitations, we begin to lose faith in the relationship…rather than accept that no one is perfect.

      The danger, I think, in this mentality of accepting limitations..is when a person is emotionally, sexually, physically, or financially controlling or abusive. When I speak of relationships and accepting limitations I AM REFERRING TO AN OVERALL HEALTHY REALTIONSHIP! In my mind, there is no room in a loving relationship for any form of manipulation, abuse, or control.

      Just to clarify, becuase I think that, when dealing with abuse, people often try to justify their partner’s behaviour…their are no justifications for abuse…abuse is not love. I think I have more to say on this, but I know that Deb is proccessing her response to this wonderful conversation, so I will step back and await her contribution…love is real…that’s one thing I know!

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