My Perspective Of True Love

People 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.
caring1 caring1
56-60, M
17 Responses Aug 21, 2010

You're welcome. It is always helpful to expand our perspective by seeing how our actions impact others and seeing new options.

I don't remember how many times I have read this over and over again. Each time gives me more insight of what love and relationship is about especially the one I am currently in right now. Best of all, is that the more I read the more it reflects who I am and my partner is. I see some similarity in views and perceptions on ideas or models on the same topics between you and my partner which now makes sense to me. Very deep indeed. Thank you a million times.

Thank you EH.

After reading this I remember why you are a friend. What an good grasp you have on love and relationships. I've often wondered why people hold onto bad relationships, as if 'having' a person in their life that doesnt feel happy and fulfilled is any good to anyone. It's devastating and just awful to be the receiver of that kind of 'love'. I really like your definition.

Thank you SNS4U.

Never tired or bored reading your articles B, i really appreciate and glad to know someone as articulate and deep as you.... cheers and have a great weekend...G

I'm glad you enjoyed reading what I wrote. I just want to plant a little seed, and maybe some people will realize that there are other alternatives to what we see all around us. If it helps one person take action to create happiness rather than just settling for the familiar, then it was worth the time I spent writing it. Thank you for your comment.

Being selfless is a concept that tends to be very foreign to most people. It requires maturity and a lot of soul searching. We must feel confident enough to let go. It is like the saying: "If you love something, Set it free... If it comes back, it's yours, If it doesn't, it never was." How will we ever know if someone truly wants to be with us, if we continue to cling to him or her?<br />
I understand what you are saying regarding the opera example. I'm not saying never go, or forcing your partner to go with others, but being supportive of your partner spending time with others who truly appreciate the experience. We don't all appreciate everything to the same degree. I'd never want to hold anyone back.<br />
I do my best to keep up with my son's discussions of rocket science, but I would never claim to be up to his level of understanding. I would never want to be his anchor, so support his expanding his experiences beyond me. I can share in his excitement without getting in his way or slowing him down.

I would need to understand her perspective before I could offer anything else.

This is a very challenging situation you find yourself in. I sense that you are understanding of where she is at, but possibly impatient that she isn't getting over it already. Ask yourself how you would have dealt with it if she was the one to have the sex change operation. If you knew you were a straight man and never felt any attraction to men, how would you deal with your wife becoming a man? She may never accept you as you are and may feel that this is confusing her own perspective of her as a woman. You may find that she might be more comfortable accepting you as a friend than accepting you as her partner. Turning someone from heterosexual to homosexual is about as effective as the programs to cure homosexuals and turn them straight. This is an awful lot to ask of someone. Had she not already invested in you, she probably would have left, but we resent it when our investment changes to something totally foreign to us. This is very complex, and I feel that therapy would be helpful for both of you. It is not something that I can give proper attention to, when I only have part of the picture.

Thank you.<br />
Keep the lines of communication open and clear, and then enjoy what develops.

Salute to my EP friendcaring1.. I really enjoyed reading all your stories and Q&A. I am total fan. <br />
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I am surprised the way you see love as unique and as non conventional as we all used to, but all written are well said and there is truth in it. I share your thoughts and idea about love as I am approaching the same experience with a friend. It took me about 3 or 4 months to comprehend what love, security, validation and happiness are all about. To cut the story short, I used to seek love and validation and always ended up disappointing myself. Now I share understand and learn with people with mutual interests with me. I can love and share my friend with others whomever he chose to make him happy. We do not claim to own each other, and we do not propose to bring happiness in each other. The fear of being hurt and rejected are still there, and so it is best to have no expectation and keep the relation open with mutual respect and lots of appreciation. The main thing is to cherish the special moments we had together and keep all the goodness and thoughts of that person to sustain our happiness and be happy knowing they will find their happiness and success too.

When you have two givers, nothing is being sacrificed, and who would be interested in cheating when you can't imagine better than what you have at home? If people aren't determined, then they aren't ready to settle down. Many people settle down before they are ready, as that is what they feel they are supposed to do. They end up regretting that decision. Yes, this path is filled with dignity, respect, happiness and fulfillment, or it doesn't work. When we are willing to let go of our belief that we have to be self-focused or our needs will never be met, we can find something very beautiful to cherish.

After reading so realistic aproach of love i wonder if this can improve the heart achs of being cheated by their love. Obviously it doesnt apply to those who have multiple dimentions of love..Love teach us to take away the hurts and give the happiness to your love.though it is very difficult task when your happiness is being sacrifieced. Only very determined people in their ideology can do it.I think at this path u can travell with all the dignity without a rotten relationship.

Thank you. I’m not familiar with Walsche. There is no way that I can keep up with all the authors out there. I understand that people see my perspective as idealistic, but I know it can work, once we understand the value of our long-term ob<x>jective.<br />
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Unfortunately, we are indoctrinated with garbage designed to maintain the familiar and not complicate anyone’s life. It only leads us to feel defective, flawed and insecure. I would much rather see people raise their kids to acknowledge and appreciate their uniqueness rather than promote conformity. I did this with my son and am amazed at how he turned out, and so is everyone else who has ever got to know him. It wasn’t more difficult; I just followed a different path.<br />
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Though it is challenging, we can break free of our indoctrination. When I entered UCLA, my eyes were opened to a whole new world I never knew existed. I broke away from my past and set out to discover who I was, not who I was supposed to be. It took time and effort, but I feel more full and alive than I ever did when I was a blind follower.<br />
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Though it might feel awkward, at first, once you see the results of this approach, those results will motivate you to continue on this path. The results feed the process. I’ll never go back to the ineffective indoctrinated patterns, and I’ll never settle for less than this, even if it means that I spend the rest of my life alone. Settling for something less would only make me resentful of what could have been.

Wow what a beautiful piece of writing. The whole time i was reading it i was reminded of neale donald walsche. I dont know if you have read any of his work but he speaks about this topic >>> true love in a very similar way that you do. I think its a remarkable concept but incredibly difficult. Human beings are, like you said in the beginning, driven by self-gratification. We're nurtured that way. So not many people can fully comprehend a love like this that says "i want for you what YOU want for you". I would love to be this evolved. Thanks for writing this. It reminded me of how to let go of something. :)

I agree with you. If you love someone, I want this person to feel happy, complete, and follow his happiness, if is not with you, IF YOU LOVE, if you really LOVE as I had, you will be happy for this person.<br />
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You pain for not being with this person, is ANOTHER STORY!!!!