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Is It Love We’re After? Looking for a Long-term Relationship

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“It is more important for me to spend time building a real relationship than it is for me to date a lot of women.”

There are three types of love.

Eros: is often thought of as the love of sex. But it’s much more than sexual. It’s the fire, the passion, the drive to create. And noticing that much of my eros, or erotic energy was focused on finding a partner, I could understand how that energy was being funneled away from the other creative passions. In my attempts to create the lover I wanted, to woo in a certain way that the other person becomes inflamed at the same level was draining some of my resources and some of my beauty with all the effort. *

Filial Love: family, community, connectedness. This was the love I was being washed in, sitting alone with friends. Sometimes, in the darkness, even this filial love is not enough, and we’d rather stay in our quiet, dark, boxes and suffer alone. But just knowing that our family was out there, that our filial ties were strong even when we were all silent…  *

Agape Love: the flat-out powerful love of the creator, however you care to imagine her. God, Jesus, Mohammed… Native American gods. All part of the whole. The GOD of gods. However you chose to believe, however, you chose to be amazed, that was the god of Agape. And while it could be sustaining, it was not nourishing in the same way as the first two. And certainly not as filling and energetic as the first one, Erotic. *

Today, walking around the lake with my “special friend” we were discussing our relationship. She was being funny for a bit teasing me about what our relationship was and was not. “Well, we’re not dating,” I said. “Because I don’t want to date.” “Okay, well what are we then?” “I don’t know. I don’t have any name for it,” I said, attempting to be honest and exploring the idea of what we had become. “So,” I said, “You don’t want a long-term relationship and I don’t want to date. We’re even. I don’t even care what you call it, whatever we’re in.” We agreed that we didn’t have the name or definition of what we were becoming, or even what we were at that moment, in a tender morning of “just being together” and grooving on that. And we walked on and talked about many things.

And somewhere along the way, the word “love” was mentioned. And it’s become a more casual and easy word, not huge, or dramatic. Like LOVE. And I appreciated her sincerity. And I have been trying to understand just what she meant by it for a week or so since the word came up. We’ve been talking about love in many ways. As in you love someone deeply and will always remain friends, no matter what. We have that. And then there’s all that other stuff…

So what love are we, as newly divorced adults, after? Are we wanting love, Love, or LOVE? I think there are escalating forms of this word love. Some of them have to do with desire and passion. Other parts, the bigger parts, have to do with “what’s next” or “what we will become.” Today I am sure we have “love” the first stage along the path. And that’s enough. And I would guess, right along schedule (though I have no real knowledge of what I’m talking about) for a well-matched relationship. Too soon and you risk mixing up lust and love. Too easily and you’re talking more about lust or capture. We don’t want capture at this point.

Love is a growing of intention between two people. As we walk, around the trail and on with our lives, we get a chance to be with the other person. And if we are comfortable about going slowly, we can see more and more sides of this other person, while we are still building our trust and caring for them. In my marriage, I was drawn in much too quickly to love and Love. We were dating and then living together in a matter of six months. We, of course, were on a mission to become parents, and in our late thirties, so we moved through our own internal objections and sped up the process. But we missed a few warning signs along the way, that might have prevented us from getting married had we been less enamored.

So if love comes too quickly you might be tempted to overlook some of the issues in the early months of the relationship. By keeping things in the lower-case love, you can ferret things out better. Neither of us are interested in moving in together. Neither of us is interested in becoming step-parents. And we are both working to keep our own trajectories intact while beginning to bend some of the time towards being with the other person. I think it’s best to remain in this early-stage love until some true burning desire comes up between the two of you to move things to the next stage. Again, I am not there, at the moment. I am very comfortable with hearing “love” in my friend’s statements. And I am happy to reflect the sentiment. But I understand that we may not be on the same page about what love is or what we are talking about.

The two of us have been through a lot already. We’ve jumped through some burning hoops to see the next layer of protection being stripped away. We are pretty close to the pure joy of finding time together and knowing that we will enjoy the company of this other person until something else comes along.

And here’s where our current discussions tend to veer in slightly different directions. She has said, in the past, that she’s not into a long-term relationship. And I have accepted this frame in our courtship. Today, when I mentioned this to her, she winced. She wanted to explain, or to refer me back to her emails. But I was clear in my mind. I do want a long-term relationship. I am into this for the long haul. And if we continue to grow as partners, I am eventually going to want to grow into Love, the capital “L” version, that asks, what’s next. But that’s a way down the path. And putting too much emphasis or worry about this eventual crossroads is premature.

Today we are together. I don’t have a name for what we are. I am not “dating” her, because I have decided with my heart, that I am in a relationship with her and we are not just casually getting together.

In practice, however, we are casually getting together. And we are getting together when our schedules allow. That she’s not into a long-term relationship, is also a frame that is being contested. What I think she means is she has no way to think about or imagine what the capital “L” love would look like. I don’t either, but I don’t need to go there to know that’s where I’m going. Eventually.

She once asked me, “Well, if you like relationships so much, why have you only had three in the four years since you’ve been divorced.” “Because,” I said, smiling inwardly, “It is more important for me to spend time building a real relationship than it is for me to date a lot of women.” So there (here) we are.

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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reference:The Three Types of Love – The Off Parent

image: indiscreet camera, prague, jan fidler, creative commons usage

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