Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness...

Let me just preface this by saying that my views on love are very different from most people's. I'm not suggesting that my opinions are correct and that everyone should think like me. I understand that love is a very personal subject, everyone's entitled to their own opinion, whatever that may be. There is no right and wrong on love, just different perceptions of it. Again, I'm not judging, just thinking.

I strongly believe that love is a feeling in the truest of senses. It does not exist in fixed quantities. You don't have a certain amount of love that needs to be divided in pie chart fashion. It is very possible and in fact, necessary to love several people at the same time and be loved by many people at the same time. Of course, there are different kinds of love, and we need and live for all of them: familial, friendly, sexual, deep caring that goes beyond the basics of friendship, love that is borderline sexual, and what I'll term, for now, "true" love.

True love is the love most people are referring to when speaking of finding their soul mate. It's a love that, like other loves, flows freely and doesn't need to be worked on, at its basic form. I'm not saying that love comes devoid of work. I just mean that sometimes love just is. True love goes beyond caring, beyond sexuality - and in fact, can exist coupled with or free of sexual love. True love for someone means letting them go, wanting to do anything and everything to let them be happy, no matter at what cost to yourself.

When you find true love, you understand how all the different ranges of emotions enter the equation. It's when your love flows from your fingertips, over space and across time, reaching for your soul mate. It could be compared to the insane burst of feelings felt for an intense crush or infatuation. The difference is that it flows deeper. You feel it in your depths, in your soul, in your heart of hearts. You know it to be true.

Finding true love also reveals that trust is the absolutely most fundamental concept of any relationship. Without trust, there is no foundation for building friendship, investing in caring, or developing a long-term relationship. And in my opinion, the ultimate form of trust is releasing your grasp on your true love, allowing them to grow freely, with or without you. In other words, you trust your true love to feel the same way for you as you do for them. You trust them with your heart, after all.

You trust them not to break you, not to hurt you or betray you. You trust that the decisions they make in life and love are made with the intention of not harming you in any way. You trust that no matter what, they will come back to you. And you trust that they want all of this for you too.

This sacred bond flows deeper than physical relationships. It has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with soul. In my opinion, this pure love can only truly exist in the material world as an open relationship.

Now lets explain open relationships, shall we? According to Wikipedia, "An open relationship denotes a relationship (usually between two people) in which participants are free to have other partners."

It's actually more than that. An open relationship is one where the trust is so great that jealousy cannot exist. The love flows so deep that your partner's happiness is the single most important factor in the decisions you make about life and love. So this means that if your partner craves the company of another person, sexually or otherwise, you, as a member of the open relationship, agree and even encourage your partner to explore and release those feelings because of the happiness it would bring them, and therefore you. Whether or not you, as a couple, decide on restrictions or rules for your relationship doesn't affect the fundamental nature of the relationship - that it is based on trust and true love.

For me, there is no alternative to an open relationship. Perhaps I'm just a bit idealistic, but I truly believe that human beings are capable of an enormous amount of love. Yet we restrict ourselves, burden ourselves with right and wrong when those values were imposed in ancient times as solutions to problems like overpopulation or recklessness. I would like to think that at this point in existence, we're able to have safe sex and control our primal urges. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be ethical reasoning behind our actions. Far from it. I do, however, believe that love crosses those boundaries. You can't choose who you love or who you fall in love with.

Because there is a difference between loving and falling in love. And I think that's the main thorn in society's side. Most people can't tell love from being in love. My view is that love is uncontrollable. You can't tell it that it's okay to love some people and not others. You can't tell it to stop loving someone - it usually just is or isn't. However, in the same way that you can control anger and other impulses, you can work on love, and eventually not feel the same kind of love or the same intensity of love for someone. It's like having a passion for something. You can learn to be less passionate, but somewhere deep down, you'll always care about the things that have made you passionate in the past.

Being in love, on the other hand, is a state of being that can vary from a small, quick crush to an intense infatuation. It can lead to love or stem from it. Most of the time, people who are in long-term relationships are in love with their partners, whether or not they truly, fully love them. It's almost like the material manifestation of love, the day to day of a relationship. That's being in love.

Hopefully, most married couples are not only in love with each other but they love each other too. The couples who get divorced either stop being in love with each other, perhaps because things change and the day-to-day of the relationship becomes too tedious, or because they realize that their love is not true, not full and free. Either way, they stop being happy pursuing life and love together. If they can work things out amicably throughout and after the separation, they most likely love each other but have simply fallen out of love.

That was my situation. Which brings me to gender differences on the concept of love, which I'll take on in my next post.

Stay tuned...

Please feel free to leave comments, as long as they promote the exploration of the topic rather than bash my thoughts and opinions. I'm looking for constructive criticism, not hate mail. If you have nothing helpful to say, please don't bother saying it.

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