My Perspective Of True LovePeople talk about love, yet it seems to mean different things to different people. I’m not saying that my definition is better than anyone else’s, but I’ll share it, in hope that it will plant a seed that might give you something to think about.
When people feel love, they often focus on the sensations that exist within their body, and what can be done to enhance those sensations. This leads me to question whether love is seen as self-gratification (What’s in it for me?). Though I admit to enjoying the sensations I feel, the deepest love I’ve felt was not focused on me.
I’ve asked people whether they would be supportive of their partner leaving them, if it meant that the partner would feel greater happiness and fulfillment. People have a difficult time supporting that, for it would mean that they would lose something. I know that the ideal is to share a life with a partner, but is it just about self-gratification?
As a child grows, the parent realizes that the time is approaching when that child will spread his or her wings and fly from the nest. Many parents have given up their own identity and taken on the role of parent, so fear being left with nothing if the child leaves. These parents may reinforce dependency on the child to maintain their need to be needed. These parents claim that this is in the child’s best interest, but it is obvious to an outsider that this is just for the parent, and is holding back the child.
I had mixed feelings as my son readied himself to leave home, but I knew that he was ready for this transition, and I had no desire to hold him back. I knew that I would miss him, but I also knew that we would always have a special closeness that nothing or no one could ever destroy. No matter where he is or what he is doing, I still feel connected to him, as he does to me.
Once, I felt a very deep love for a woman. When she wrote me a letter saying that the distance was too much for her to handle, and she moved on, I was devastated. At first, all I could think about was my loss. As time went on, I realized that my feelings for her transcended a need to be with her. I realized that I truly cared for her happiness and well-being. Early after the breakup, I felt both a desire to be with her and a desire for her happiness. As time went on, my desire to be with her diminished, but my desire for her happiness and fulfillment never did. I truly want her to be totally happy in all aspects of her life (her marriage, her children, her career). I realize that we are probably totally different people today, with less likelihood of compatibility, but that doesn’t lessen my positive wishes for her. I have no idea what her thoughts and feelings are about her past, present or future, but I am very appreciative of the time she did share with me and all the things she opened my eyes to see. For me, true love is about caring about the other person and what’s best for the other person. I do want her to be where she is happiest, and I realize that isn’t with me. I’m truly OK with that, just as I’m truly OK with my son living his own life.
Let’s say that my partner is into opera, but I find that opera puts me to sleep. Do I tell her that opera will not be a part of her life? No, I’d encourage her to enjoy the opera with her opera-loving friends, and then I’d share in her excitement when she returned home. I could relate to her excitement, even if I can’t relate to the opera. I wouldn’t see her attending the opera or dancing or traveling or doing anything else that doesn’t fit who I am as something that I would resent, deny or feel threatened by. I would want her to feel fulfilled in all areas and wouldn’t see it as a threat to what we share.
Some people ask how I’d feel if she wanted to go out and have multiple sex partners. The issue for me would be whether she is truly committed to our relationship or if she is looking for other options. Would this be supplementing or replacing? I’m not sure that I have a hard and fast rule as to whether I would feel comfortable with this or not, but I would never want to hold anyone back from a positive move in her life. If she wanted to satisfy a curiosity and planned to take precautions to make sure all would be safe, I doubt that I’d say no, after we fully discussed it so that there would be no unfortunate surprises. I’d also want us to fully discuss it after the fact; so hidden secrets don’t end up tearing us apart. If she didn’t appear to be committed to me and appeared to be looking for a replacement, I’d encourage her to leave and get on with her life. I have no desire to hold onto anyone who doesn’t truly want to be with me.
I questioned what I would do if I were in a partnership with a woman and then I became a quadriplegic. What if physical intimacy was an important part of our relationship leading up to that accident? Would I expect her to go the rest of her life without ever having that intimacy again? I have come to the conclusion that I would be very supportive of her establishing a physical relationship with someone. I wouldn’t push her to it, but I would openly discuss it with her and let her know how important it is to me for her to feel fulfilled in all areas of her life. I would continue to want to share in any aspect that I could with her, but I wouldn’t want to hold her back in areas that I was unable to participate. We might still be able to share in that intimacy in our discussions after the encounters.
I know that a lot of people feel that partners must do everything together. I don’t fool myself into believing that I could be the answer to every one of my partner’s desires. I wouldn’t want to hold her back, in any way, knowing that what we would share, along with knowing the happiness the outside activity bring to her, would all add to the depth of our relationship.
I see myself as supplementing a partner’s life, not being a partner’s life. If I can add to her life, then I’d jump at the chance, but if she discovers that happiness lies elsewhere, I would wish her my best and let her know that I’ll always cherish the special moments we shared together. I don’t own a partner. If a woman chooses to be with me, I want it to always continue to be her choice to stay or go. I wouldn’t want her to feel obligated to stay.
What this all boils down to is a realization I’ve come to that my partner’s happiness is what brings happiness to me. If I truly love someone, I want her to make the best choice for her. Though I’d always prefer to continue to share in her life, I would never want to be an anchor that holds her back. True love for me will always focus on what will add to her life and what’s in her best interest. Only by loving a woman enough to respect her freedom of choice can I ever know if the feelings are mutual. If not, I don’t stop loving, but have no desire to hold her back. If I discover that she is in conflict between her feelings and her desires, I reassure her that my love will remain, but I encourage her to be true to herself.