Friday, June 15, 2012
The Road Map to Love
People have a lot of strange ideas about how relationships are supposed to start, how they should progress, and where they should go. Even though no one is given a clear road map at birth to follow, a lot of us act like we have discovered not only our own, but the road maps for every last person on the planet. It's a peculiar arrogance. One that severely gets in the way of the love and compassion our world so desperately needs.
I don't know about you, but when I take a sincere look at my understanding of relationships - real, in the flesh relationships - it's pretty murky. People come to blogs like this looking for guidance, or answers to some question they have about love, and occasionally people like me offer something of value. However, much of the time, we're traveling in the land of abstractions, hypotheticals, and personal examples. All of which have the potential to be inspiring, or a major hindrance, depending upon what your actual needs are.
Notice I said "actual" needs, not "perceived" needs. What you believe you need in a partner is often not what you need. Or it's only partially what you need.
There's nothing wrong with seeking guidance from others. Certainly, some of us have learned a few things over the years, and might be able to steer others in a direction that's more right for them.
At the end of the day, though, you have to learn to listen to yourself, to that voice deep inside of you that would tell you what's right and what's wrong, if only you'd slow down and pay attention to it. Our world is changing fairly rapidly these days. The old rules around gender, sexuality, marriage, having children, and even being single are all shifting and changing. How we define being together isn't the same as it was just a few generations ago. Even the goals people have for relationships are often quite different than they were in the recent past.
The beauty of living today is that there is more freedom to truly discover who you are and what you want to be in the world. And for those who make mistakes early on in life due to youthful ignorance, there are more ways to address those mistakes, whether it means ultimately staying with someone or leaving them.
In other words, collectively we are less trapped by certain norms than folks were fifty years ago. And individually, we each have the potential to be much more liberated when it comes to our intimate relationships.
But in order to make that potential into a reality, you have to spend more time with yourself. You have to really slow down, reflect, and listen beyond the noise of cultural, familial, and friendship circle expectations. And you have to take these skills into any relationship that enter.
I don't believe in sexy, one size fits all road maps to love. If you do believe you have all the answers (even for yourself), I'd like to ask you this: How? How could you know for sure? And how's that working for you anyway?