my sirens

Hold the Center in Love: Let’s Reset and Realign on Our Quest

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Love is a mutual quest. If it’s a one-sided romantic campaign, there’s going to be a shipwreck ahead as the rocks and stormy seas bring couples to the moment of truth.

How Do We Cultivate Love?

To learn about love you’ve got to go out and get it. You cannot wait for love to find you. (It won’t.) You’ve got to define for yourself what love looks like, what it feels like, what it smells like, and what it says when it wakes up in the morning. Love is an ongoing adventure between two people. If you think you’ve got the roadmap for what is ahead, think again.

Love can also turn everything in your world upside down.

Breakups and divorces can be life-changing events. When my ex asked for a divorce eleven years ago, I was thrown. Sure, we’d not been close friends or lovers for quite some time, but “divorce?” Did she really understand what that meant? Did she think this was best for our two kids?

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But breakup we did. And my journey back towards “home” began. I’ve still not found what I’m looking for. I knew the energy required would be massive. And I also learned pretty quickly, I was not going to settle this time. Not even a little.

We’ve seen friends and acquaintances who were still together, and still unhappy. That’s not going to be our fate. No. We’re going to fly the ALL-OR-NOTHING flag. But wait, is that the best choice? Who knows. But, what we do know, is you’ve got to get yourself back out there if you have any hope of refinding and refining love.

Is the Honeymoon Phase the Best of Times?

Some people I’ve met along my journey back toward love are a bit uncommitted, or afraid of really going for it, with ONE person. I’ve always been the Relationship or Bust guy. But, it might be time to change my tune. Or at least, some of the lyrics.

I’ve met people, lovers, and friends, who started to freak out the minute the dating relationship moved into the 2nd month. One woman, who flat-out bolted told me later, “It’s just what I do. I leave when things get serious.” She also said, “You’re just too big for me. You need more attention than anyone I’ve ever met. And I can’t fulfill what you’re looking for.” Hmm. Okay.

So, this friend seemed to be addicted to the hot times, the super-sex times, the “is there anything else I can do for you, honey” times. I’m wondering now, in my ongoing quest, does it make sense to settle down so quickly? Do I need to move things into *living together* mode within the first six months? Is it a better idea to keep our own places and go a bit slower? Does time apart make for better times together?

How Do We Hold the Center?

In the last six years or so, I’ve been a bit of a nomad. When I was forced to sell my home, I went on a different journey. One of losing everything. Twice. And picking my tired ass back up and doing it again. And I’ve cohabitated with all three of my last girlfriends. Why the hurry to move in together?

Am I needy and wounded? Has my loss of housing, several times, made me a bit more anxious? What’s my need to establish residence with my partner? I’m not sure this is the best approach. But, before I had my own place again, I was probably jumping ahead trying to heal something inside me that was feeling hollow or broken.

Today, I’m not broken. As I’ve been establishing my own residence again, now as a single adult I am realizing the benefits of a lot of time alone. I have got a lot of projects I’d like to put time towards. ONE of the major projects in my life is cultivating a healthy relationship. It’s only one of the many facets of my plan.

Do I need or want to be in a relationship? Do I have to be in “the relationship of my life” in order to be happy? What’s my push to accelerate things in the past? And… If I don’t have that urgency anymore, how might I date or relate differently? What’s my priority now?

Tie Me to the Mast of Loneliness

I don’t need to be lonely. But, I also used to know that I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. I’m relearning this critical path lesson. I want her, I want us, I want the WE. BUT, and here’s the kicker I need to remember, I must love myself more. It is important for me to remain tied to the mast of independence and autonomy.

Dating is ambiguous. Trying to build and cultivate a healthy relationship takes a lot of work. It takes vigilance to keep asking questions, seeking answers that match with your idea of where your new flight plan might go. As a couple, you’ve got to begin building trust and establishing clear lines of communication.

Sarcasm and passive-aggression have no place in the house of love. Sarcasm is a poor form of communication. Often, we use passive-aggressive statements to check to see if our partner really loves us, and is really paying attention. Sarcasm is a trap. You think you’re being funny, playful, and teasing. What you are doing is trying to communicate some frustration or unspoken complaint about the relationship. If that’s what you want to do, say it. Don’t joke about it. Don’t leave dangling silences between your communications (waiting hours to text your lover back) as a way of applying pressure or showing your indifference.

We need to eliminate miscommunications. We need to establish a solid and honest feedback loop between us. In your eyes, your words, your smile, I am looking for information all the time. Don’t make our connection about laying traps and seeing if I’ll step in them.

Don’t be sarcastic about what you want to do tonight. “Well, maybe we should actually go out tonight.” NO. Just say what you would like to do, and leave the joke and the attitude outside. Love is not a test. Love is not a series of traps. And the minute I feel like my partner is putting down passive-aggressive traps I’m going to not only step in them, I’m going to try and blow them up with my heavy foot stomp.

Let’s Be Clear About What We Want

It’s not easy. I know that today my ideas about what I’m looking for are changing. As I move forward, I’ve got to become more conscious of my NEED to move things toward living together and ask myself, “Why give up all this autonomy I’ve established?” Why fire up the time machine and keep examining the relationship from the “lifetime partner” lens? It may not be helpful.

What I want in my next lover:

  • autonomy and space to do my creative work
  • a consistent lover who has their own bliss work to focus on
  • love, laughter, and touch that does not possess
  • a healthy communication pattern
  • expressions of mutual love that don’t contain traps or barbs
  • a lover who also knows what she wants
  • and knows how to let me go, do, fly
  • is confident that I will return stronger, happier, and more “in love”

Love does not capture. Love to not wait for someone to change. Love should not diminish your potential in life. Love never squelches your happiness or celebration.

Work on the feedback loop in all interactions with your partner. If you can get the core link between the two of you solid and healthy, you can move together toward a jointly imagined horizon. Don’t settle. Don’t let things get off track. Always speak your truth. And always listen for the truth behind your partner’s actions and words. Pay attention. Adjust as necessary.

Love is a spiritual quest. Don’t let your desirous heart send you crashing into the rocks of the shore.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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