The Business of Love

“The central secret seems to be in choosing well. There is something to the claim of fundamental compatibility. Good people can create a bad relationship, even though they both dearly want the relationship to succeed.

Sexual Attraction

(Photo Credit: Maria Eugenia)

It is important to find someone with whom you can create a good relationship from the outset. Unfortunately, it is hard to see clearly in the early stages. Sexual hunger draws you to each other and colors the way you see yourselves together. It blinds you to the thousands of little things by which relationships eventually survive or fail. You need to find a way to see beyond this initial overwhelming sexual fascination. Some people choose to involve themselves sexually and ride out the most heated period of sexual attraction in order to see what is on the other side.

This can work, but it can also leave a trail of wounded hearts. Others deny the sexual side altogether in an attempt to get to know each other apart from their sexuality. But they cannot see clearly, because the presence of unfulfilled sexual desire looms so large that it keeps them from having any normal perception of what life would be like together.

Monica & Chandler in Friends

(Photo Credit: balthazar82)

The truly lucky people are the ones who manage to become long-time friends before they realize they are attracted to each other. They get to know each other’s laughs, passions, sadness, and fears. They see each other at their worst and at their best. They share time together before they get swept up into the entangling intimacy of their sexuality.

This is the ideal, but not often possible. If you fall under the spell of your sexual attraction immediately, you need to look beyond it for other keys to compatibility. One of these is laughter. Laughter tells you how much you will enjoy each others company over the long term.

Shared Laughter

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If your laughter together is good and healthy and not at the expense of others, then you have a healthy relationship to the world. Laughter is the child of surprise. If you can make each other laugh, you can always surprise each other. And if you can always surprise each other, you can always keep the world around you new.

Beware of a relationship in which there is no laughter. Even the most intimate relationships based only on seriousness have a tendency to turn sour. Over time, sharing a common serious viewpoint on the world tends to turn you against those who do not share the same viewpoint, and your relationship can become based on being critical together.

Dealing with the world...

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After laughter, look for a partner who deals with the world in a way you respect. When two people first get together, they tend to see their relationship as existing only in the space between the two of them. They find each other endlessly fascinating, and the overwhelming power of the emotions they are sharing obscures the outside world. As the relationship ages and grows, the outside world becomes important again. If your partner treats people or circumstances in a way you can’t accept, you will inevitably come to grief. Look at the way she cares for others and deals with the daily affairs of life. If that makes you love her more, your love will grow. If it does not, be careful. If you do not respect the way you each deal with the world around you, eventually the two of you will not respect each other.

The mysteries of life...

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Look also at how your partner confronts the mysteries of life. We live on the cusp of poetry and practicality, and the real life of the heart resides in the poetic. If one of you is deeply affected by the mystery of the unseen in life and relationships, while the other is drawn only to the literal and the practical, you must take care that the distance does not become an unbridgeable gap that leaves you each feeling isolated and misunderstood.

There are many other keys, but you must find them by yourself. We all have unchangeable parts of our hearts that we will not betray and private commitments to a vision of life that we will not deny.

A happy couple

(Photo Credit: fishbed93)

If you fall in love with someone who cannot nourish those inviolable parts of you, or if you cannot nourish them in her, you will find yourselves growing further apart until you live in separate worlds where you share the business of life, but never touch each other where the heart lives and dreams. From there it is only a small leap to the cataloging of petty hurts and daily failures that leaves so many couples bitter and unsatisfied with their mates.”

(This note was originally posted on my Tumblr account. Source unknown.)

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