February Reflections – The Secret of Romantic Love

Falling in love is one of the most exciting experiences. The heart soars and fills with joy. Everything glistens. You may notice a beautiful tree on the way to work or observe how rain gently falls on the grass. Menial chores no longer seem arduous. Rather, you’re able to perform them with a lightness and gaiety. Somehow you have a kind word for the cantankerous landlady, the melancholy shopkeeper or your crappy co-worker. Most likely, your creativity blossoms during this time. You may feel moved to write a poem or a song. Excitement mounts as you anticipate meeting your lover. Melting into your loved one’s arms feels like heaven, like you’ve finally come home.

But sadly, that magical quality fades. Difficulties emerge in your relationship and you start to see defects in your lover’s personality that you overlooked before. In the beginning, you fell in love with their divinity but with time their humanity surfaced. Romantic love either changes into a deeper, more accepting and serene love or else it ends. Whichever way it swings, the blissful feeling when everything sparkles and it feels wonderful to be alive gradually recedes.

Is romantic love an illusion?

Where did those feelings go? Were they an illusion as some philosophers of love claim? Some people try to defy their fleeting nature by falling in love with a new partner once the feelings with the previous partner wane. Unfortunately, these individuals seem inattentive to the sorrow they create when leaving others in their wake. Romantic love may easily surface during midlife. At this stage, it often creates more heart-wrenching pain when it causes families to break up. Yet people who have been in this situation say they suddenly have a new lease on life, feel younger than they have felt before, and experience emotions surfacing that previously were hidden or forgotten. These uplifting feelings also fade, but many find a more suitable partner for the person they have become and move into that serene, deep love. Others experience the same disappointing problems in a new relationship because they did not sufficiently address and heal their part in the original one.

A love misplaced

I think the surfacing of romantic love, especially later in life, indicates an individual’s need for more aliveness and greater fulfillment. Whether they’ve been successful or disillusioned, they long for something more. The problem is they think the person who they love is the source of those glorious feelings when in truth they are an expression of the divinity, which lies within all creation. If you keep your focus on that person, you easily become disenchanted when those blissful feelings fade and you discover your lover is only human. Rather, it’s best to turn your attention inward to find that everlasting love that you truly seek. From this abundant place you can put the love for your partner in its proper perspective.

I don’t want to diminish the role this other person plays. It’s the rare individual who can be a lens or light to show you the way to a deeper love. But you must not mistake the lens for the reality which it sees or the light for that which it illumines. No person can fulfill the love you ultimately seek. It’s unfair to expect any person to do so. They will start to feel uncomfortable and frustrated knowing they cannot fill your expectations. Yes, they can serve as a wonderful life partner but your soul will always long for something more.

The everlasting love that we seek is within

If we look at the lives of the mystics, we find bliss and aliveness do not fade but grow. Through a process of contemplative prayer, meditation, and psychological/spiritual cleansing, the mystic experiences the joy, open-heartedness, creativity and aliveness for brief periods of time followed by longer and longer durations until such uplifting energy permeates their whole being. They discover the secrets of the universe and become immersed in the beauty of the moment. They never tire of this love because they continually discover more in its depths. They see the divine dwelling in each person and all of nature.

Yes, it’s wonderful to love and be loved but when you find yourself in that exciting romantic love stage, honor the one who evokes this feeling in you. After all, they have helped open your heart. Then go within and find that ever-present, everlasting love you truly seek. From this place of abundant love, you’ll be able to love your dear ones even more.

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