“To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love. To know how to love someone, we have to understand them. To understand, we need to listen.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
What is Love? What is that feeling of connection, compulsion, that draws us to another person and begs to form a bond?
And, why does it sometimes disappear, or crumble into a void in the wake of a break of trust?
Is it all about physical attraction? Chemistry? Mental compatibility? Why on earth do we fall in love (and/or in lust) with someone? Why do we fall out of love with someone?
In the Greek language there are multiple means of expressing “I love you”- I remember vividly my grandmother tucking me into bed at night with the words, “kourichakimou, cartholamou, yagapoulamou, agapemou”. Some people are embracing using the Greek words directly. I am in Eros with you. I am in Phillia with you. I am in Ludus with you. I am in Agape with you. I am in Pragma with you. I am in Philautia with you.
Whether you want to use those words or not, simply taking the time to think about what kind of love you are experiencing can help find clarity. So many layers of love are possible.
And they all share something in common- a draw of connection.
“Love is not as powerful as trust and acceptance; those are so much more specific in their ingredients. To me, acceptance is everything.”
~ Ivo Beitsma
In a world that grows increasingly disconnected, and we seek more connection, through these many forms of love, what is it that we are actually seeking?
Perhaps the thing that makes us fall in love with someone is feeling Seen by them. To be witnessed, not just for our strong points, not just for our attractive qualities, but to also be recognised in our opportunities, our shadows, our struggles, our very humanity. To be seen, without judgement; to be seen, and embraced, in the wholeness of who we are.
And so, disconnect arises when we no longer feel Seen. Our very human experience can be invalidated, even by those we have shared so vulnerably with- sometimes quite obviously by being told we are wrong, or ‘should’ be somehow different. Sometimes more subtly, such as when a partner sees us as broken and wants to fix us. When we no longer feel Seen, heard, acknowledged, recognized, the experience of love falls apart.
We all do this, we’ve all participated in trying to change the way another person is, in a judgement that they should somehow be other than who they are. We are tied to stories that have taught us particular codes for behaviour according to our culture, gender, sexuality, and economic status.
With that in mind, is it possible to recreate love and closeness from out of the distance? Is it possible that we can consciously fall in love?
Being seen also allows us to love ourselves more deeply. Feeling heard, accepted, embraced for the wholeness of who we are, allows us to also love the wholeness of who we are- individually, and collectively too.
Love serves as the four lettered glue that holds us together- as a community, as a species, as a collective of conscious beings sharing space and time cooperatively, love is the essential molecule. Love, is founded on listening.
Can love be a choice, one that we are invited to make every day?
“Love, love is a verb,
Love is a doing word.”
~Teardrop, by Massive Attack