The Five Love-Life Tasks
There are five (5) tasks in a love life, any love life. Chances are any particular person will encounter all of these tasks to various degrees during the course of his or her love life.
To master any particular task in the set of five requires a tolerance for a certain experience that goes with the particular love-life task. I will describe each task in this post and talk about the experience that goes with it.
Task #1 find love To find love requires a willingness to let go of the control involved in thinking you can make love happen. When this effort to control other people is relinquished, love tends to more easily find you. Most people don’t like this idea much because they were brought up in a world that has taught them to be in control of everything.
Letting go of this control in areas of your life where it is not needed or serves as an obstruction can feel uncomfortable hence the tolerance I mentioned earlier. When you let go of interpersonal control, you become more vulnerable to outside impressions, one of which might be love. Unfortunately to be vulnerable in this way will increase your susceptibility to other influences as well.
This leads to the understanding that you should choose when to be vulnerable as wisely as you can. When to be open and when to be defensive. In situations where love is possible it pays to be vulnerable, letting love find you. In situations that call for self-protection and defensiveness, vulnerability is a certain liability. It’s good to know the difference.
Task #2 sustain love To sustain love requires a willingness to ‘grow’ the love you are feeling. When you grow something you think about what it needs to thrive and what it needs to avoid as well. You are busy giving it what it needs and keeping it safe from what it doesn’t need. The same is true for love. If you are willing to grow the love you and someone else are feeling you will have to feed it and protect it.
Generally speaking, love thrives on things like honesty, freedom, equality, and trust. Love also tends to respond well to independence and intimate forms of communication. Making a conscious effort to grow the love you are experiencing by making sure you keep ‘love toxic’ things away such as dishonesty, control, dominance, and fear.
Not communicating with the person you love and stifling forms of dependency will also tend to suck the life out of a fledgling feeling of love. All of this by the way is what it takes to ‘work on your relationship.’ Don’t expect to have a love relationship without doing a little care and maintenance more frequently than you expect.
Task #3 commit to love Making a commitment to love involves being able to make and keep a ‘promise’ of love to another person. Notice I said, ‘make and keep.’ These two are the ingredients of a healthy love commitment. To make a commitment of love you have to work your way around your fears of ‘being controlled.’ This is the fear for most people who actively avoid making a commitment. They think their freedom will be taken from them. Quite the contrary I assure you.
If you are ‘in love’ with someone, making a commitment to that person brings you freedom. Why? For the simple reason that you don’t have to look for love any more. Now ‘keeping’ a love commitment involves the continuous effort to diminish, reject, or ignore temptations to stray.
Put it this way, your eyes will always look at the world and all the wonderful people and places in that world. Get my meaning? But that doesn’t mean you break your promise. True love is not knocking on your door everyday, so you appreciate it, and take good care of it.
Task #4 leave love I can hear you saying, what is this one doing in his list of love-life tasks? If you fall in love with someone you don’t get a guarantee that love will last a life time. Sorry. There are many different ways the love you feel can leave you. I don’t wish this on anybody. My point is simply, you have to be able to tolerate grief (another emotion with a mind of its own) if you are going to try your hand at love.
What does grief have to do with love? Let me explain. When real love leaves, for whatever reason, for example you’ve been married for 50 years and your husband or wife dies. The fact that you loved deeply will naturally bring grief. Grief is the flip side of love. It’s not sickness or weakness. It’s what happens when love leaves.
The strange part is, the more comfortable you are with emotions like grief, the easier you’ll heal, and the easier it will be to love again. Welcome grief like you’d welcome love, and grief will expire in a shorter period of time. Think about that.
Task#5 live alone If you thought grief in the last task was strange enough, why am I now talking about living alone on a list of love-life tasks? To be able to comfortably ‘be by yourself ‘ means that you have developed a positive relationship with yourself. First and foremost, I am talking about your self-esteem.
This little mental function (self-esteem) has a lot to do with the quality of your love life. The formula goes like this, if you feel good about you, you let into your life only the people who are going to reinforce that feeling, not people who don’t. But there’s more. When you can comfortably live alone, you are practicing a form of independence that also improves the quality of your love life.
If you are not independent you haven’t yet resolved whatever dependencies you had from earlier periods in your life. Bringing those dependencies into your love life as an adult will surely put a strain on love. Developing how you feel about you between relationships is a great way of not only working on reducing left over dependencies but also working on your love life.
Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan