Reader Question - Do you really believe in true love? Don't you think it's just a made-for-TV fairy tale? I hate to sound so cynical, but if I've lived this long and never seen it in real life, I have to wonder if it's just a myth. Wouldn't I be better off accepting that the fairy tale isn’t real instead of chasing this crazy dream?
True Love - fact or fiction.
What a loaded question! Clearly, the reader is speaking of that life-changing, earth-shaking, happily-ever-after-forever-and-ever kind of romantic love we all secretly crave.
To be honest, when I was single I didn’t see that many relationships that looked like True Love in my circle of friends, family, and acquaintances. Nevertheless, I still hoped. Actually, it was more than hope. I somehow KNEW, but had no proof. It took being found by my own True Love at age 57 to affirm the True Believer in me. And to finally understand what True Love was all about. I’d had it all wrong and am betting some of you do, too.
What Are We Doing Wrong?
It’s no wonder people are skeptical. In today’s culture, we are simultaneously more connected through the internet, social media, and cell phones, and more isolated by those same tools. We say more and communicate less. We’ve mastered the art of the sound bite and lost the art of conversation.
The relationships we see on TV or in the movies are either sappy and superficial or convoluted and doomed. Sitcoms poke fun at normal sweet everyday life injecting an underlying dissatisfaction with whatever we do have. No one seems to nurture and cultivate relationships one step - and misstep - at a time. Get it right instantly or go home, that’s the collective mantra. Singles try to meet online or in bars, then lament the emptiness and lack of the connections. Unless you are fortunate to have a few good friends who enjoy real conversation (not complaining sessions), you could find you find yourself at a complete loss when faced with an actual human being in a real situation.
Despite what pop culture has done with its story, I knew that True Love existed. Perhaps we doubt its existence because it is so misunderstood. So just what is True Love?
True Love is about Giving
When you give freely with no strings attached, you send a message of pure True Love out into the cosmos that will be caught by...who? You don't know and that's the beauty. Those random acts of kindness transform both of you instantly, though neither of you may know in the moment. Suddenly, there is a symbiotic relationship between two "strangers" creating a new bond, a new connection, raising the state of beingness and love for both.
And that's how it happens - one person, one loving act, one connection at a time.
Being Love, giving Love, is the only way to call Love into your life.
True Love is Unconditional Love
Finding True Love doesn’t mean all our problems go away and life becomes perfect, whatever that means. Instead, True Love helps us grow the ability to love each other through whatever comes our way unconditionally without fear that every little hiccup threatens our relationships. Instead of riding off into the sunset leaving troubles behind, we clasp hands and stride forth together knowing that even if we disagree, fight, encounter hardships, or make mistakes, we are in it together. We are One.
Because the truth is we will disagree, fight, encounter hardships, and make mistakes. That is a vital and necessary part of being human. And of being in love. The whole purpose of being human is learning to love, ourselves and others, unconditionally no matter what. Some people learn to navigate those growth opportunities peacefully, others with pyrotechnics. There’s no right or wrong way as long as it’s the Way of Love.
True Love is big enough to embrace All Loves
Is this you? Ms. Wonderful knows Mr. Right, the One and Only who is her Destiny, is out there somewhere. She knows he is looking for her, too, and when they find each other they’ll live blissfully ever after.
In the meantime, everyone else is just “wrong” and taking up time and space. So she brushes them off rapidly.
Love is seeking you every moment of every day, but the idea that we will know The One instantly and that we can somehow miss finding that One if we even look at anyone anyone else is dangerous. Instead of helping us find Love, this belief teaches us to dismiss everything that isn’t perfect by our own narrow and judgmental definition. Instead of helping us find Love, it isolates us from all the loving people and experiences that surround us. We can have more than one love in life. More than one person who is walking the earth right now could be our “ideal” partner. Part of learning to love and opening to love is understanding that love isn’t finite. It is not necessarily imprisoned in one other person just for you.
And most importantly, it is learning that we cannot find our personal fulfillment in another person. True Love embraces all and understands that fulfillment comes first from within. Which leads to...
True Love can only be found Within
If you are looking for True Love out there in another person, any other person, you are just running away from (and prolonging) your own aloneness.
What scares you more? Being alone or being with the wrong person? I once had a friend who swore she was going to marry the next gut who came along just so she could say she was “divorced” instead of “never married.” She was terrified of being alone and her past was littered with the corpses of guys who were leaches, also so afraid of being alone that they would latch on to any desperate woman who came along. Their mutual fear of loneliness, of growing old alone and dying alone, brought them together into relationships that sucked the life out of them both and never nurtured Love. After years of this unsatisfying pattern, she is bitter, angry, unhappy, and still alone.
Both the fear of being alone and the fear of being with the wrong person create a massive roadblock to the only source of True Love available to you - the Love within.
I firmly believe there is only Love or Fear. Anything that is not Love is Fear. What we are really seeking is intimacy, that safe place where we can bare our Soul to another knowing they will treat it with tender loving care. The first place to find that is in your relationship with yourself.
Love is first and foremost a giving thing and you cannot give what you do not have. (Though you do not have to fully love yourself first.) That unquenchable emptiness within cannot be filled by another person. Oh sure, they can complement the love you are cultivating within yourself. They can help you explore it, nurture it, and bring more of it into your daily life. They can hold you when you are afraid. They can mask the emptiness, but never fill it or dispel the fear. That can only come from you, from within.
True Love requires some deep inner work, and the cold truth is most people would rather someone else did the heavy lifting. The checklist sounds tough:
1. Learn to love your solitude. You are enough just as you are. Hint – solitude and loneliness are not the same thing. Play with that until it feels true from the core of your Being.
2. Get to know yourself, warts and all. Love and accept yourself just as you are, while simultaneously continuing to infuse more True Love and its loving practices into your life.
3. Decide that you are worthy right now. No one is perfect, not you and not your potential partners. There is no universal definition for perfect anyway. It’s totally subjective and your own definition will change from day to day. You are fine just as you are right now and will just keep getting better and better the more you accept being fine right now.
4. Focus on your own passion, your own joy. We all share the same life purpose – reuniting with the unconditional love that is our birthright. The difference, what makes us unique, is how we choose to go about it. Focus on fanning the flame of the passion within and True Love can’t help but be attracted.
True Love is Naked
No, that isn’t a sneaky reference to sex, great or otherwise. Instead, it’s about being vulnerable, laying down your defenses and excuses, getting beyond the confines of your list, and getting Ego out of your way.
While having a list is valuable as you meet new people, it can also lead to runaway planning, fantasizing, and judging. Chemistry is a funny thing. That instant bond, that sense of recognition you feel, can just as easily be one of your fears recognizing the same fear in the other person. Probably not what you really want. Chemistry by itself isn’t always the best barometer. The list can help you discern what the connection is all about so you don’t end up chasing every shiny new object that comes along.
The list can also cause you to be blind. Our Ego may have had a hand in writing that list. It may describe the “good on paper” mate our Ego thinks it wants to shore up its fragile little feelings. What satisfies our soul and what satisfies our Ego can be at odds. Our Ego is all about Getting. Our soul, when we allow it to be itself, is all about Giving. Our Ego fantasizes about the future and sets the bar so high we can never experience the deep satisfying contentment our soul loves in each moment.
There’s no such thing as “tomorrow” or “later” when circumstances are finally “good enough.” There is only now. When you finally grasp that, you’ll stop waiting for things to be just so. You’ll jettison the rules and limitations. You’ll stop missing out on today while fantasizing about a future that may or may not happen. You’ll start loving yourself, warts and all, alone or in partnership, right now. You will willingly become naked as a newborn baby, vulnerable and open to receive. You won’t want to risk missing one minute of Love. You will love yourself wildly and freely and extravagantly expecting nothing in return. And in doing so, will receive more Love than you ever dreamed possible.
True Love loves Itself
If you don’t love yourself....if you hate yourself....if you criticize yourself...how to you expect others to see you differently? We all give off vibes. What are yours saying about you? I am loveable and ready for love or I hate myself and want you to fix it. Granted, you may meet someone who sees your true potential, but until you see it for yourself nothing will really change. Eventually, they will get fed up and move on.
True Love accepts What Is
Your heart is going to get broken. Probably more than once. Someone will lie to you. Someone else will steal from you or take advantage of you. Someone will leave when you want them to stay. Someone else will stay when you want them to leave. The point is we can’t control anyone else’s behavior. We can’t make someone love us. And because we can’t make anyone else behave as we think they “should,” we learn to accept and forgive, starting with forgiving ourselves.
True Love knows it’s all good in some way, sometimes in ways we can’t yet see.
We accept what is and we love anyway. When you can do that, you are on your way to your reunion with True Love.
True Love is Surrender
Take each of the statements above. Wrap them in affection, lust, passion, friendship, tenderness, respect, vulnerability, forgiveness, and gratitude. And surrender. Give up striving. Merge, blend, shimmer, and dance the Soulmate Dance.
Will it last forever? Well, yes...and maybe no. Will it last a human lifetime? Impossible to know. Will it last for all eternity? Yes. Because when we get out of the way, True Love simply IS.
Anne Wade is Teacher, Writer, Mentor, and Coach for courageous women in midlife and beyond who want to disrupt their own status quo and design life on their own terms, even in turbulent times. She has developed the Becoming Found process of going within to find and address the inner barriers we have all inadvertently built up against love, happiness, health, wealth and any other desires of our hearts. Teaching women to unapologetically shine like a superstar and live their legacy is Anne’s mission. You can follow her on her Facebook page “Anne Wade – Becoming found” or join her “Becoming Found” Facebook group.