Celebrating the joys and successes of people we love is a more powerful glue of connection than providing support or consolation for life’s challenges and disappointments. Equally powerful are the small ways that we intentionally communicate to our partners how they hold a special place in our life and hearts. Ironically, this is where many relationships fall short. It was a Love Agent’s feedback that made me think about this simple, yet often overlooked aspect of loving someone else.
She wrote: “I believe that love is something that is partially stimulated by initial connection and feelings, but that to stay in love requires a daily choice to love that person. Part of loving someone means loving yourself, and it also means that you have to consciously improve upon yourself constantly. To be the best partner, you have to understand and nurture the other person and the relationship. The Love Agent Missions are an excellent way of doing that! They make me look deeper into the relationship and my partner, to see how I can make them feel more appreciated, understood, and loved. Love is natural, but loving well doesn’t come naturally.”
Love is natural because it is the seed of our most authentic and ingenious aspect of who we are. Yet, as she says, loving well doesn’t come naturally because many of us never really get any good modeling for healthy loving relationships and because there is so much inaccurate mythology about what loving feels like. As she noted and I have seen a million times, we confuse our initial rush of biological and emotional feelings when we first fall in love to the qualities we expect out of a long-term loving relationship. We are largely uneducated in the skill sets that make loving well a daily part of how we think, show up and communicate in our relationships and we stubbornly hang onto the childish concepts that loving should be easy or make us happy all the time.
This work of loving well is not hard in and of itself, except when you feel empty and unappreciated yourself. It is hard to look beyond our own unmet needs. And many people go into relationships with the mistaken belief that all their emotional needs will be met by virtue of being in a committed relationship. I know that I held my husband and my relationship hostage to this mythology for years and it made me not only unable to give love instinctively, but also, and more importantly, prevented me from witnessing the love coming to me. Receiving love for many of us is a more complicated and blocked aspect of relating than giving, but truly you can’t give very well or feel satisfied with the giving if there isn’t an opening to receive. And to receive, you need to feel worthy, which is why this Love agent so aptly describes the process of loving as beginning in ourselves with the commitment to become our best selves. No one can do that for anyone else.
And yet, the truly magical thing about the nature of love is how it expands in ever widening circles just by paying attention to it. Another Love Agent this week said:
“We had reached a sexual intimacy plateau; and The Love Missions have allowed me to remember those moments that made me fall in love with her in the first place and to essentially fall in love with her all over again….Overall I really am enjoying the program and the mission assignments. This is honestly the BEST COUPLES COUNSELING for improving emotional/sexual intimacy!!”
For years, now I have been writing to communicate some essential truths about making love sustainable, but in just one week’s time, our love agents are expressing even more clearly these truths because they are doing them. I have long said that love is an action verb. Becoming a Love Agent will provoke you into action. And the actions themselves will heal your capacity to both give and receive love. Love Agents will change how we think about love and help us lead this critical social movement of making love real in our daily interactions.