If you've talked or spent time with me, visited my photography Facebook page, or read past things I've written, you've heard me drop the word love a billion times whether related to self-love, love of our fellow humans, or loving relationships with friends, family, and significant others. I had a friend recently ask me if I could riff on love related to significant others in a future post. I've decided to indulge her and hopefully you find something in here to take with you. Please know that all of this comes from observations within my own relationship and of those around me throughout my adult life thus far.
In personal or interpersonal connectedness, society makes everything about the physical--the best health practices, exercise routines, and sex-drive--or if it veers from physical, it goes straight to mental--how one should positively affirm, express gratitude, practice emptying ones mind to be a better listener or be less anxious.
What if love is at the crux of personal and interpersonal connectedness? What if physical and mental stuff jumped from that launching point into the spiritual?
Bear with me.
These thoughts started after I read an article written on Helen Fisher's (a biological anthropologist and expert on love) belief that we have evolved with three kinds of love: sex drive, romantic love, and attachment to our partner. According to her, all are intrinsic to our being...basic drives.
While I don't necessarily disagree with her, I felt like the most important of our evolution with love is Spiritual Love. And I'm not talking about love of God or Spirit or the Universe, necessarily, though that's an aspect that isn't unimportant. I'm talking about a kind of love that transcends the other three kinds while still fostering them.
Here's my take.
Evolution of Love
The Sex Drive phase is classic beginning-of-the-relationship hunger for one another. It's here where there's exploration and newness. The unfamiliar territory is exciting and enticing. You only have to give each other tiny nuggets of yourselves for it to be satisfying. This phase of love can be addicting for some, and those who feel the need to continue feeding their sexual hunger will continue finding lovers to fill that need. Those who allow/don't mind when the hunger subsides move into romantic love.
Romantic Love involves all the cute gifts, sweet nothings/texts/letters, intimate touches, hugs, and kisses, and dates beyond the bedroom (or backseat of a car!). ;) One or both partners want to be sure the other person feels special and valued. As the couple realizes they don't have to try as hard to keep one another, this phase of love can fade or simply transition into attachment to our partner.
Attached Love is where dedication kicks in. Sometimes this occurs because of children or new pets, sharing an apartment or house, or because the couple decides to marry. Many believe that this is the goal. Those in the dating scene in it for the long haul seek a partner who feels like someone they can marry. But there's more beyond the wedding day and marriage.
Those who may not seek or aren't aware of anything beyond attached love find that the sex-drive has chilled out and romantic love has dwindled or completely disappeared. One or both people in the couple have lost themselves to the relationship, let go of hobbies in favor of fulfilling stereotypical roles of a spouse or parent. Criticism begins to develop. Each person begins to display doubts, fears, and that shadow side of the self their partner may have never seen before. It's here where divorce or splitting up can happen or is discussed because the people in the relationship suddenly say, "What now?"
OR they can fully lay their shit on the table, strip down to their rawest selves, and begin to develop something greater than themselves: Spiritual Love.
Spiritual Love is held above the couple itself. It's realized as compassion, full acceptance of the other person and all their faults, and unconditional support and respect. It's where ego is set aside to hash through what should be fostered or shed for the greater whole of the partnership. It's FULL of patience. It's being okay with walking through this life as two separate beings living separate existences in a shared space and relationship. It's full of trust, honesty, and safety. It sets boundaries and respects them. It favors growth over stagnation, forgiveness over grudges. It doesn't keep tally of screw ups. It's attentive. Communication is full of listening, sharing, and dreaming. Spiritual Love sees the partnership as a separate being working in this world for something greater than itself.
Through Spiritual Love, the other phases of love come into context again and ebb and flow as life does. The couple sees the other phases as helpful tools in continuing/fostering their basic human needs while holding their spiritual love high. An individual who understands they desire and require this kind of love will get out of or not tolerate abusive relationships or over-compromising ones integrity. Spiritual love marries partnership and self-love. It holds space for growth of the individual AND the couple. It's beautifully dynamic and full of responsibility, but a responsibility worth all the work.
Where do you find yourself in here? And what are your views on love? Comment or send me an email. I'd love to talk more about this with you.
*This is the article I referred to earlier.