In the most recent post “To Fall in Love,” I wrote about a pathway to falling in love. It includes asking and answering 36 questions with a partner, sitting face to face, then finding a quiet spot and looking into each others eyes for 4 minutes.
Key ingredients: A willing partner, willingness to Listen, willingness to Share, a quiet environment, sitting face to face, authenticity.
When you try this, are you going to fall in love? It is easy to fall in love. Harder to Stay in love. Falling in love, within this context, is actually the decision to open oneself to receive another person. Opening oneself to show one’s authentic self to another person. The questions are designed to offer deepening authenticity; designed to offer opportunities to receive a level of truthful communication from another. These things create the platform on which love and connection can thrive.
We humans crave attainment of a state and hope to live there as if we have scaled a vertical cliff and reached the mesa at the top. Stasis, however, is not a viable option. To stay in love requires effort. It requires us to continue to risk with our partner. To continue to be willing to be seen clearly, to risk being disappointed, to risk living in intimacy. This can be a terrifying state of affairs…at the very least, exhausting.
My willingness to continue to ask questions, your willingness to live with my answers when I give them has everything to do with connection and attunement, those experiences that deepen love. We humans often move in and out of states of awareness with each other and in our day to day worlds.
Loving on Life’s Terms is avoiding tuning out, finding that balance between connection with an Other while living life as it needs to be lived today.
In “Attraction versus Résumé,” I mentioned that Nature has primed us for procreation. We respond accordingly. Nature hasn’t figured out, yet, that we humans have set expectations that we will live with each other, often monogamously for a lifetime. Nature expects us, has pre-programmed us, to have lifelong connection whether we live together or not.
Hooking up, friends with benefits, one night stands, athletic sex, anonymous sex, fun sex. Nature didn’t get the memo that we humans have figured out how to move sex into the recreational, non-consequential realm. The advent of the Pill in the mid 1960s freed women and couples from the probability of unplanned pregnancies. Contraception options abound and therefore sex as recreation is abundant.
Nature made sure sex would feel good and, most report, it does! Except for that unattached lost feeling folks have after the sex is over. Sam Smith [“Stay With Me”] sings plaintively about what it means to lose the connection with another person after sharing bodies.
We are made to connect with each other. Sharing bodies: touching, tasting, teasing skin to skin. All of it serves to join us.
When you connect sexually with someone, you create a history with that person. Each kiss, touch, embrace builds that history. Whether you tell yourself, intellectually, that it doesn’t matter or not your body knows it does. The body remembers. The heart yearns.
If this were an advertisement for beer I would carefully follow ethical code and tell you to remember to drink responsibly. Since this is a blog about Loving on Life’s Terms, I will tell you to remember to have recreational sex responsibly. When you enjoy another’s body, you create history with them. This creates connection. Connection, in Nature’s world, is what sex is about.
My friend was beginning to think about dating after his divorce. Well, in truth, he wasn’t necessarily ready to Date. It seemed that everyone in his circle was ready for him to date. His dating life, or lack thereof, was a hot topic. I signed on as his wing woman, ready to help him navigate, offer sage advice from my own dating experience and give him support as he took risks.
What was my most important piece of sage wisdom? Easy:
There is Attraction and then there is Résumé.
Nature wins, every time. We understand that our primary function is to procreate and make more humans. Nature decrees it and we follow it. For this reason, we see a suitable sexual partner and respond accordingly to that hot guy or sexy woman. We are made to attract and to be enticed.
What Nature didn’t take into account is our propensity to share lives with each other, or try to.
This is where résumé comes in. That potential lover looks and feels So Good. We sign on for some enjoyment hoping that enjoyment will build into something we can rely on. But what is the résumé? What is this sexy creature’s history with lovers and partners?
If we agree that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, the way our Sexy Creature has treated his or her lovers in the past has everything to do with what we can expect in our future.
Questions to attend to:
- What story does she tell you about previous relationships? Both beginnings and endings?
- What relationship patterns does he describe? Understand?
- Does she blame his or her partners for most of the relationship health or pain?
- What about current relationships? Does he have healthy friendships? Family relationships?
- Does she expect certain things in friendship but forego those same expectations with lovers?
What does your résumé look like? What do you bring to relationships? What are your strengths? Growth edges?