I feel a little hesitant to write about love. Partly because so many poets, artists, philosophers and others have explored it, defined it, talked about it, written about it, painted and pulled their hair over it. Yet in the realm of intimate relationships it is hard to avoid the topic as it’s central to why we come together, build lives together and start families.
Love as a Feeling
The first perspective I want to tackle is love as a feeling or an experience in our bodies.
Sometimes when I tell my partner ‘I love you,’ it means ‘I’m feeling some sensations or emotions right now that I’m labelling as love’. The trouble with this is that it’s so broad a label and used to convey such a vast range of different feelings that it hardly communicates anything at all.
When I say ‘I love you,’ as a feeling, do I mean ‘I like you right now and being with you brings a smile on my face’? Or is it closer to ‘right now I am consumed with passion and spiritual bliss in your presence’? or somewhere in between?
Without more details, ‘I love you’ hardly communicates anything and leaves much to interpretation and so to ambiguity and misunderstanding. If I am feeling a soft warm feeling (‘I love you’) and my partner hears this as overwhelming desire and horniness (‘I love you’) then the chances are that our hopes and expectations from this moment will be wildly different. And we the feeling of love can pass on as quickly as it came.
The other challenge is that feelings are generally transitory sensations that pass through us only a little slower than the speed of thought. Right now I quite like you (‘I love you’) and in a few minutes I’m feeling repulsed (you left the bathroom door open). Next moment I’m feeling irritated by something I read in the newspaper (not connected to you at all) and the next gratitude (not-love-but-still-pleasant) when you bring me a cup of tea. Feelings are changing constantly and so are my feelings in relation to you.
I’m expecting that if we are in an intimate relationship then I feel these pleasant, enjoyable and exciting feelings about you often enough to tell me that building a life together is worthwhile. If my usual feeling is one of disgust or repulsion then this doesn’t sound like the basis for a fulfilling life together.
But if we are going to be totally honest towards each-other then we have to accept that we will not always feel loving feelings about each other in every moment. It doesn’t mean we don’t love each-other – only that we don’t constantly feel loving feelings.
Here are my tips when we are using Love as a feeling:
- Be rather more precise about what you are experiencing than ‘Love’. Warm? Tender? Turned on? Blissful? Happy? Content? Grateful? Etc.. This will help send more accurate messages to your loved one.
- Tell you partner what they are doing or what you notice about them that is stimulating these enjoyable feelings. Is it what they look like? What they said? How they move? What they did? Etc. This will give them a clear idea about what you enjoy and maybe encourage them to do it more.
- Don’t freak out when your partner (or you) does not feel loving type feelings every single moment. It is a sign you are human … not that you have fallen out of love.
- Celebrate often the pleasurable feelings you inspire in each other – tell you partner frequently.
Next week … Love In Action