Love Hurts, Right?

Lately I can’t seem to get away from the subject of relationships . . . what to do about them . . . how to find them . . . how to live with them . . . how to live without them . . .

Whether in one or not, the questions remain. Most recently, a friend voiced her conviction to me about the necessity of ‘working’ on a relationship in order to preserve and keep it healthy. She was only stating what we probably all have heard and hold true: that relationships are hard work, that they must be given our diligent and determined effort in order to succeed.

So it felt like time, again, to ask The Team to talk about relationships. Specifically, what makes them seem so complicated and so hard? Why does it take so much effort to make them fly?

There is considerable accumulated consensus among you that relationships are hard work and that they take great effort and care and sacrifice and compromise in order to succeed. It is really just a part of your larger flawed premise about the necessity of hard labor for the obtaining of anything that you want.

With relationships as with most things that you deeply desire, you have agreed together that it surely cannot come easily or without struggle and so you perpetuate this myth and treat it like law and so, not surprisingly, your relationships are often trying and tedious and demanding—because you have decided, in effect, that they must be that way because, after all—isn’t anything worth having the result of blood, sweat and tears?

And we say . . . no.

We also assume that you would prefer that we not leave it at that, and so we’ll also say this: Get over it. With relationships as with any other powerful desire that you give birth to, what matters is your alignment with that desire. What matters is you allowing yourself to so line up with the joyous wanting of that desired thing . . . allowing yourself to ‘be’ the person who can give and receive the love that you desire . . . allowing yourself to believe yourself worthy of that love and able to both give and receive it . . . And here’s the real kicker: you have to decide that your happiness matters more than that relationship that you long for.

And immediately the protests begin. “But aren’t relationships about selflessness?” ‘Isn’t love all about putting the other first?” “Isn’t love defined in the great user manuals for our species that have been handed down through the ages as care and attention to the ‘other’s’ happiness more than my own?”

Even those of you who don’t buy tickets and board that train of thought still object to the notion that a relationship can flourish without your toil and trouble. You have learned just as diligently from your own brand of experts that two people can only maintain a happy and healthy connection with each other if both people are putting the other first . . . or at least, putting the relationship first.

We get how hard it is for most of you to hear this, but you’ve been sold a bill of goods. You are barking up the wrong tree. You can’t get where you want to be from there. What you must do—every man and woman jack of you—is decide that you are going to be the happiest, most fulfilled, most satisfied, most stimulated and stimulating you that you can possibly be . . . that you are going to create the most exhilarating life for yourself that you can possibly create . . . that you are going to fill your life with appreciation and eagerness and enjoyment . . . And then, dear ones, we promise you, the relationship that you truly want . . . the relationship that IS about joy and fulfillment and appreciation will emerge from the confluence of your alignment with your desire and the alignment of an other with theirs.

Here’s the rub. You confuse what you want—with what you think you need. You think about relationships often from a place of not believing in your own worthiness . . . You start your approach to connection with another from a position of weakness or discouragement or self-doubt or insecurity. You look to another to fill some void you think you have. You look to another to reflect something back to you that you have trouble seeing on your own.

And so your connections become more about fixing some aspect of you that you feel is broken than about the mutual discovery and exploration and sharing of life’s greatest joys and pleasures. You decide you need work . . . and so it is not surprising that any relationship that you’re lucky enough to stumble into will probably need work as well. You even jokingly refer to yourselves as “works in progress”.

You can continue to tell yourself that story. You can continue to believe that the best and the most blessed of your shared moments with others come from your determined labor. . . but if you stop and really look at the best, most blessed moments of connection that you have shared with any other . . . . we are relatively certain that you will see that they came to you effortlessly . . . that they just ‘happened’ . . . that they felt like ‘a gift’ . . . that you weren’t even sure how or why you received them . . .

You practically kill yourself—and each other—trying to prove that you can “work on’ whatever you want hard enough to make it happen the way you want . . . and oh the frustration that always follows this approach. When all the while, the real work—the real challenge—of choosing YOUR happiness above all else and then allowing the Universe to deliver to you one who can truly share that happiness—is effort that you often refuse to put forth.

You offer too many excuses or reasons to list, but they all boil down to the same refusal to believe that putting your joy first . . . that letting your joy lead you . . . that giving your attention and effort to being the happiest and most fulfilled you that you can be . . . will always yield to you the most joyful results . . . the most joy-filled relationship.

Start telling yourself a different story. Imagine a happy ending that results not from determined work on the relationship but from devoting yourself to being the you that a devoted other can’t help but love. Offer a truly joyful, loving, engaged, stimulated, eager, expanding you in your connection to another . . . and see how very little effort your dream takes to come true.


I’d love to hear the wedding vows The Team would write. Or the romance novel. Every single time I ask a question about this I try my hardest to argue and always end up feeling like I’m more or less sticking my tongue out at them. Very mature.

Whatever will I do if I discover that in fact, a happy relationship is really all about a happy me? What if I’m not meant to suffer? What if love isn’t supposed to hurt? What will I write poems about then?

It blows my mind just a bit. It also leaves me wondering how much joy I could have with someone else by just enjoying me, who might like to play that game with me instead of the one where we’re both busy working at it. It leaves me holding my hand over my heart, scratching my head . . . and feeling, for the moment, inexplicably complete.

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About Dan

Published novelist, poety, essayist, photographer and college educator. Visit me at www.firstadream.com.

Posted on October 18, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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