“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.” ―Anaïs Nin
I find myself attracting conversations about love and relationships, what seems like, all the time. And, when I find myself in these engaging, insightful conversations, I realize that there is so much variation of perspective about love and relationships. When I listen to these varying perspectives, I come to the conclusion that most people have no clue what they’re doing as they attempt to enter into relationships with others. In their attempts to understand what it takes to BE with a significant other, they are legitimately trying to find love and happiness in that journey; and while some are successfully and happily in loving relationships, others are failing miserably.
I do not proclaim to have all of the answers and God knows I’ve steered clear of giving relationship advice because of my own relationship history. Yet, as one with some authority on miserably failing in relationships, I’ve learned something incredibly valuable that I believe is simply, yet profoundly, the key to sustaining a loving relationship.
And, that is: Love works when you do it.
Ultimately, I believe that love in and of itself is enough to satisfy our human need for connection and belonging. It is beautiful, fulfilling, enduring and infinite. However, I believe that love is simply not enough to sustain a relationship. My belief is that love serves as the foundation of a successful relationship, but it’s the work of love that ultimately sustains that relationship. There’s a distinct difference between the existence of love and the sustainability of a loving relationship.
When I’m in conversation with people about love and relationships, I hear them speak (loudly and clearly) about their desire to be in love and relationships, yet I hear much less about their desire to do the work of being in love and relationships. Most do not acknowledge their tendency to be selfish, pushy, irrational, impatient, inattentive, and generally lazy in relationships. On the contrary, they describe their ideal mate and all of the things s/he will be expected to do and give in the relationship. I hear them discuss how past loves didn’t listen or trust or take out the trash or want to have sex or stopped trying etc but rarely do they (we) admit to their (our) own deficits in making love work.
What is the work of love? The work of love is the collection of conscious, continuous actions that are a direct reflection of the meaning of love for the two in partnership. In other words, the two must understand what loves means to each other and work DAILY to DO that love. The work of love is essential to sustaining a loving and committed relationship.
Now, I do think people should be honest with themselves (and their partners) and communicate their expectations and desires in a relationship. Some individuals are fine with commitment as the essential aspect of the relationship and they are less concerned about the presence of love. On the other hand, some are more focused on the daily presence of love and companionship, that they are less concerned about commitment. And there’s no shade or judgment if that’s what you want. With that stated, my perspective is rooted in my desire to be in a loving AND committed relationship.
So, if I were to offer any advice to those seeking love or trying to sustain a relationship, it would be: Love works when you do it.