Tuesday, September 27, 2011

LOVE: The Lie

I think most of us have a few bones to pick with the society we've grown up in: consumerism, a consistent phobia of anything that doesn't fit within narrow parameters of 'acceptable' behavior, an educational system that doesn't educate so much as grease us to slide into those narrow parameters with the least amount of fuss possible...those are the top items on my list, anyway.

I think though, that those are all things it's fairly easy for us to recognize as not helpful and disregard if we make an attempt to look at such things objectively. No critically thinking person has ever concluded that buying lots of stuff all the time actually does lead to long-term happiness...right? So, in some ways they're fairly innocuous. Maybe not the education thing...but I'll come back to that another time.

I think the most harmful construct that is built into our sensibilities and our understanding of the world is this: that LOVE will fulfill you, LOVE makes the world go 'round, without LOVE you will always be incomplete...searching...for your true LOVE.

I don't mean love for your fellow human beings, for the beautiful planet we live on and its inhabitants, for yourself, for the divine, for life itself. I think those types of love are pretty much essential to fulfillment, and I also think they bubble up of their own accord if allowed to, and the divine, the universe, life itself will inevitably respond in kind. Which is not to say that you have to agree.

I mean LOVE for one other human being who you are not related to: romantic and/or sexual love.

Which is not to say that romantic and/or sexual love isn't awesome; finding someone you love so much you want to be in a mutually supportive relationship forever and also have sex with is pretty sweet. You're a lucky person. Don't screw it up!

But...it is a cruel lie that you MUST find such a relationship to be happy. Humans are relational beings: we go a little nutsy in solitary confinement, for example, but we can do just fine without a romantic relationship, or maybe even without...dare I say it? Sex.

It is a cruel lie made that much more cruel by the fact that it's so easy for an otherwise critically thinking, spiritually minded person to believe. We KNOW because we feel it in our bones, that we NEED love and support from other human beings. We know from experience that it feels good to be romantically involved with someone. What's a more potent drug than infatuation? Those two facts together make the myth that we NEED romantic and/or sexual love very easy to believe without further questioning.

You hear, from time to time, people who enjoy being single, or claim to be having an awesome time now that they're free of their confining relationship, but do you really believe them, or deep down do you feel sort of sad for those poor individuals who are so clearly in denial? I'm sure some of them can tell you, they aren't in denial, and they aren't lying for your sake.

NOT being in a romantic and/or sexual relationship can be awesome. To be honest I'm having a hard time listing reasons as to why because I've been in a monogamous romantic relationship for over six years now...

But, you know, you do what you want when you want to, you talk to who you want when you want to, etc. etc. etc.

More importantly, I think that most of us don't grow very well in romantic relationships. It's more difficult to attend to yourself, to go deep within, to ask the hard questions, when you're caring for another human being in such an intense one-on-one way, pouring so much into nurturing this budding romance, wanting it to grow into an oak tree that can withstand the test of time as quickly as possible. I think that's where most relationships fail to make the leap from happy to permanent: you may love each other very much and are very compatible, but if you don't continue devoting a serious amount of energy and attention to your own self-growth and development, the relationships is going to inevitably fall apart.

My humble advice is to stop spending energy on getting into and maintaining romantic relationships, and instead divert that energy into yourself. Meditate, pray, work out, journal, draw, paint, dance, study philosophy, go to church, lay down in the grass and stare at the sky...find some way to connect to the part of yourself that is infinite: full of possibilities beyond your wildest dreams, still growing, developing, changing. On the way you'll likely run into some dark and scary places: memories you want to forget, personality traits that you're ashamed of. Know that you are big enough to hold those memories and be whole and healthy. Know that you are capable of change, and worth the effort.

Odds are good you won't be as active in the dating scene if you're consistently doing that kind of work...but the people you do date will be people who have something for you: who will teach you something or stretch you beyond your comfort zone. They may not be that LOVE you're hoping for. You may never find that LOVE. But guess what: that idea of needing romantic and/or sexual love to be happy? As previously mentioned in more polite terms, IT'S BULLSHIT!

You CAN be happy and fulfilled as a single person for now, for tomorrow, for a month, for a year, for rest of your life.
That said, odds are good being willing to look within, courageously confronting whatever you find, working hard to become the person you want to be, will attract good people who want the same things into your life. And if you're growing when they find you, and you don't stop growing for them, and they stick around...then you'll have found LOVE truly worth having, LOVE that you would never have found for all your frantic scurrying.

Fulfillment and happiness are never without. You are never without them. Look within.

Live Omily,


  1. So true. So wise. I'm trying to see my newfound singleness as an opportunity for growth.

  2. I love you Emily. This is amazing.

  3. What my fans may lack in numbers, they more than make up for in awesomeness. :-) I love you, too Jen!!! And I'm not wise, Justin; I just do yoga. It opens you up to the stuff we all already know.