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In a lot of ways, falling in love is like becoming inspired. When we fall in love, we sense things more deeply. We feel more intensely. Our breath accelerates or pauses. Time slows down or moves forward dramatically. And just as it takes initiative for an artist to voluntarily bridge the gap between the moment of inspiration and the actual completion of the artwork, to love becomes a choice when love gets real. Life is an intricate network and flow of relationships. We need feedback, rapport, comfort, validation but also adversity, variety and resistance in order to be able to advance through life stages and develop. The closer we get to a person, The more things are at stake. It takes skills to be a good people person and no relationship questions us more than a romantic relationship does. It's as if the couple dynamic was in fact a window into the various dynamics at work in the world. There, they just happen on a bigger scale, but truly, it all starts within us.
In times when we can have the luxury to engage or not in a relationship, in times when we are no longer conditioned by geographical limitations, means of communication, and in times when we have the freedom to choose from countless potential partners, it is no longer a problem to manifest a relationship per se, yet we must still choose to sustain love. The quality of a romantic relationship will then naturally depend on the initial mindset of the two people who started it, consequently it seems almost natural to presume that what makes a successful romantic relationship is how well we prepare for it.
1. Allow it – when the teacher is ready, the master appears.
A zen parabola tells about a student who brings a cup full of water to his master, only to have the master empty the cup before his student's eyes and send him back home : “Come back when your cup is empty.” When we meet a person and we start experiencing what we call love, we think instinctively that we know what love is. But this is only our own definition of love. It is tainted by our experience, our upbringing, our background, but also by society, gender roles, fears and insecurities. In order to fully experience love we must first allow it. We must start with a clean slate. We do so by being open to the other person, curious about their differences and observing.
2. Take one's time – what we focus on expands
In this day and age, time is our most precious resource. Everywhere we look indeed, we have a wide variety of things constantly competing for our time and attention. We live lifestyles that are sometimes so demanding, that by the end of the day, we are completely devoid of energy and we barely have time for our own needs. Just as a garden requires constant attention, preparing for a relationship requires that we become aware that this is indeed a living entity, it breathes, it needs attention, nourishment and space. A relationship needs time and we need time to be in a relationship.
3. Receptivity – all of me loves all of you
When we are open to another person, we celebrate the things that make this person unique. We are receptive, we acknowledge that this person has specific needs. Maybe because today's world is so demanding, most of us have developed a certain level of selfishness, that can be healthy, when seen as a means of self-preservation. However because a relationship is a living entity, it requires our dedication and we cannot dedicate ourselves fully to it when in a self-protective state, as our selfishness acts like a shield. We don't love a person just because this person has certain qualities that we admire, love gets real when we know how to embrace another person's individuality without thinking how every aspect of them has to accommodate us.
4. Sexual healing – celibacy or not?
Some people consciously choose not to engage intimately with anyone until they meet the person they want to commit to, because engaging into intimate energy exchange with just about anyone would leave disturbances in their aura and would have later consequences on future relationships. While being celibate allows us to draw some distance between past relationships and what is to come, what is more important is how we make use of that time. It is going on a juice cleanse, trying out a yoga retreat, attending self improvement seminars, chafing our diet, while reevaluating one's ideas on a relationship, tying down loose ends and healing emotional traumas, before we can begin to awaken the sexual energy. Journaling can also be a great tool, like imagining a fictional conversation between us and our sexual organs. How would they address to us if they could speak? what do they sound like? are they angry? sad? numb? What about orgasm? How do they feel about it? How do they feel about engaging into sexual intercourse? All this can leave us great keys as to how ready we truly are for intimacy.
5. Embracing the paradox – the more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know
Because everything in this world is bound to change, part of preparing for a relationship is knowing in advance that we will never completely figure it out and that it is perfectly okay that way. A relationship is bound to change. How it change has everything to do with the people involved in this relationship and accepting change is the first step to a healthy journey. We must accept that love is not a mystery to be solved, but an experience to be enjoyed. If before we grow attached to a person, we know that growth requires bonding and bonding occurs also through awkward misunderstanding, we can put things into perspective and enjoy the wonderful unfolding of love day after day.
6. Letting go – becoming selfless
Sure, we've heard the concept before. Maybe we equal being selfless with being weak and giving up on who we are, in order to accomodate another person. Love, however, is not meant to be measured. A healthy relationship requires both parties to be hundred percent present, but at the same time, balance means it will never completely be perfect. Equilibrium is achieved through a gradual series of adjustments. Then what exactly are we letting go of? Well, when we fall in love, it feels like laying our cards on the table, it's like saying : "this is me, this is who I am. I enter this relationship with you and I am open to let the dynamics of it transform me". In other words, we are open to embracing the person we are becoming.
7. Having a vision – without a vision, my people perish
Preparing for a relationship requires that we are able to visualize that relationship. By having a vision, I do not just mean visualizing our dream partner and their qualities. Beyond the mere physical attraction, the emotional involvment and the spiritual commitment, a successful relationship is based on a higher vision that eventually not only supports the individuals involved in that relationship, but alsoextends its benefits to people outside the relationship. As individuals we ask ourselves the question : "how may I serve?' Having a vision for a relationship means that instead of wondering "what's in it for me" we take the next step and ask "how may I form a positive and engaging alliance with another individual for the greatest good of all?'