The two failed marriages on my ledger may detract from my credibility when writing about love, but the lessons in them are important ones to share.

Although we associate love with strong feelings and passion, these emotions are more related to our body’s initial reactions to attraction and lust. Like it or not, when it comes to the opposite sex, we rely on the “software” programmed into our species since the time before we were Neanderthals. True love can begin when the facade of attraction fades and you can thoughtfully decide whether to continue in a romantic relationship.

Love in its most basic form

The danger of talking about romantic love is that it can overpower any discussion about love in general, but the basic function is the same.

I fell in love with the game of basketball. The sport attracted me at a basic level and I did whatever I needed to do to excel in it. This passion fueled my energy to practice all of my skills for countless hours. I watched the great players and tried to imitate them. Every free moment I had, I played the sport. When I was younger, the love for the sport flowed though me easily. As I became middle-aged, I still loved it, but basketball didn’t occupy in the same importance it once did in my life. I still played hoops, but I was no longer working to improve my skills. I did what I could to maintain my interest and skill. When I reached my sixties, my body was unable to take the physical demands, so I could see no benefit in playing anymore. I finally quit playing.

Is this cycle of passion, maintenance and loss of interest the same cycle as other loves? Duh!!!! The difference is that we should not look at loving people as an activity you take on and then leave when you lose interest. To have long lasting love, we can choose differently.

Self-Love

You cannot love someone else unless you learned to love yourself. I learned to better love myself when I stopped relying on the negative self-beliefs I had grown up with to define me. We all have them, so it is important to identify them first. I love myself by pausing before I carry out my programmed desire to beat myself up. Pausing allows me to access the better angels of my nature. Waiting for a breath helps me assess a situation and choose the path that creates a greater sense of wellbeing in me. I always know I am on the right path of self-love when I see myself as beautiful, meaningful and purposeful regardless of my situation.

Love for another

It is easy to choose love for another when your blood boils with a desire for them. This is when committing to a monogamous relationship seems like an easy decision. This will not last, for everything has a receding tide. Real love comes when you can still love that same person after they have put on weight, lost their hair or have wrinkled skin. BTW, this choice begins with you, if you cannot perceive the beauty in your aging body, you cannot see it in someone else.

We can feel anger, isolation and disgust in the best of relationships. Rather than bask in this misery, you can pause and wait for the calmer thoughts that lead to healing and strengthening the union.

In any relationship, we will experience temptation. Being attracted to others doesn’t mean that the relationship is in trouble. This is all part of an early instinct to propagate the species. It is only a threat to the relationship if we want to act on them; the choice is ours.

Conclusion

We forge long-lasting relationships by the commitment we make to each other. This is true in both friendship and romance. Although love may open the door, it is the mutual commitment to accept, respect and support one another’s growth that makes the relationship flourish and last.

Going through a difficult life transition?

You might benefit from reading my latest memoir, Catch and Release: One Man’s Improbable Search for True Love and the Meaning of Life. it is my story about starting life over. Download a PDF of the first 5 chapters of Catch and Release for free.  To order your inscribed copy in either hardcover or paperback, click here (https://guillermovidal.me/shop/). Catch and Release is also available on Kindle here (https://www.amazon.com/Catch-Release-Improbable-Search-Meaning-ebook/dp/B07F26N1HS/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1535494644&sr=1-2). You can also subscribe to my free weekly newsletter on my website and receive motivation and encouragement to help you on your way to recovery.

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