When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. But love is not breathlessness; it is not excitement. That is just the beginning phase of love. When these euphoric feelings have burned away, a more profound love must emerge. That is real love, and yet, we rarely hear anyone speak about this grounded, conscious form of love.
It is one of the most widely written about topics in the world. It is the impetus for so many of our favorite stories, songs, movies, and art because it is a dream we all have in common. Finding that one special person who makes your heart sing and discovering that, as though written in the stars, they love you too. You’ll share a dramatic kiss in the rain or against the backdrop of a rosy pink sunset. Just like in the movies…
But what happens after that sunset? What happens after that kiss in the rain? We’re never shown that part of the film.
What we see in the movies is our society’s idea of romantic love—a passionate attachment between two people. As Valentine’s Day approaches, we’re all inundated with this idealistic vision of love even more than usual. Poetry, grand gestures, roses, engagements… we all know the dizzying, flushed feeling that these things inspire. And why wouldn’t we daydream of these things? We have been taught that falling in love with someone is about “following your heart” that love by definition is somehow mystical and beyond reason.
But if it is love that we feel, then we do feel it for a reason. The reason may not be conscious or accessible, but it’s certainly there.
This is where most of those love stories begin to unravel. Film and television often depict the beginning of love, the struggle to find the one and the eventual moment where their soulmate finds them, drama unfolds, and they end up together. Happily ever after, right? More like “Happily ever after… now what?”
The real story begins after that first kiss. It’s after “the sunset” where difficulty, challenge, and reality creep back into the frame. We put ourselves through the unimaginable to find the one—from online dating to set-ups to blind dates—and think our work is over. But, as Karen Carpenter sang so beautifully, it’s only just begun. Nurturing the relationship means continuing to put as much effort into nourishing it as we did finding it.
No matter where you are in your love story, ask yourself what you believe about love.
Do you believe that once you find The One, your life will finally begin?
Do you believe that if your partner was more affectionate, supportive, or different somehow that your relationship would flourish?
Do you believe that you chose the wrong person and that you’ll be happier with someone else?
Do you believe that your partner should always make you happy?
These are pretty common beliefs, feelings, and expectations. They are also illusions.
You’ll notice the above beliefs—things we’re conditioned to believe—leave out the most important person in any of your relationships: You. Your happiness hangs on whether someone else will appear or whether someone else will behave differently. Simultaneously, the focus is on what you’re getting from someone else. This is an ego-based approach to love, and, while it is common for a good reason, it is not sustainable.
When you shift your focus from finding the one to being the one, a profound transformation begins to occur. You take responsibility for your own happiness and fulfillment and then seek to share that happiness with another—not get it from them. You examine and heal your own wounds instead of making someone else responsible for them and, instead, share in that growth alongside someone who supports you. This may not be the sweeping love story you see in the movies, but it is real, deep, and healthy.
This is what it means to rethink love in your life. Uncovering your beliefs, stories, and illusions and letting them go and taking responsibility for yourself, your life, and your happiness. It means examining what you’re bringing into your relationship and communicating effectively to understand what your partner is bringing. Asking, always, what you are giving, what you are sharing, and how well you are loving. It means practicing unconditional love.
Unconditional love is not about what one can gain from another person; it isn’t about power, wealth, or self-esteem. Unconditional love is about loving someone because they exist. To be loved or to love unconditionally is to value the characteristics in a person that are a manifestation of the person’s core self, their essence. It comprises the actual principles by which they live through their behavior and their actions, and the only expectations of unconditional love in your relationship are to be heard, to be respected and to be treated with human dignity.
This is the kind of love we all truly want. And, take it from me, it is more magical, more romantic, and more inspiring than any fairytale set to lights and music.
Knowing that we are loved unconditionally makes us feel safe, supported, and offers us the freedom to fulfill and manifest our potential. It encourages us to pursue those things that are meaningful to us because sometimes all you need is someone to believe in you when it’s too hard to believe in yourself. Love is the nourishment that humans need to fulfill their greatness. Could there be a more magnificent love story?
My new book, Rethink Love, is out now. Order your copy today and begin creating the love you’ve always wanted, right now, no matter where you are on your journey. Click here to order.
Dear Mom: Through You, I Remember Me
May 11, 2023
What is a True Teacher? Remembering Rav Berg
October 6, 2022
Returning to Teshuvah
September 15, 2022