“I’ve been afraid of changes cause I built my life around you.”
Fleetwood Mac “Landslide”
One of the most profound insights into the nature of intimate relationships is devastatingly simple: all love involves loss. At some point every relationship ends whether through a choice to separate or through death. And both can be incredibly painful. When we lose someone, our hearts or torn in two and we wonder “could I have done something different, something more, something better?”
Perhaps this pain of loss would be easier to bear if relationships themselves were not such challenging complicated enterprises. But they are. Our partners (and other loved ones) are imperfect people and they say and do things that cause us pain and frustration (and we say and do things that cause them pain and frustration). We feel hurt, angry, betrayed, lonely and lost.
Which brings me to the title of this post – why love? Why risk the hurt, pain and loss? for some of us the answer is that it is just not worth it. We are happier, more centered, more at peace and free when we aren’t caught up in the turbulence of love. And this is a choice and life path that does not always receive the respect and validation it deserves.
I do believe, however, that for many of us love and relationship are worth the cost because when we stay in the crucible, when we do the sometimes incredibly hard work of loving and listening and learning that intimacy demands, we grow and evolve in ways we could never have imagined. Love challenges us to put ourselves aside and hear the other’s reality. Love requires us to try on new ways of being. Love invites us to know pleasure and peace that we might otherwise never have encountered. When we are able to stay present through the difficult conversations and make it to the other side together we end up knowing so much more – not just about our partner but about ourselves as well; we are stronger as individuals and as a couple.
Love provides us the opportunity to experience life through another’s eyes, and to challenge ourselves to take risks we would never have entertained otherwise. Love can support us through the difficult times, and hold our hand when the pain of life is overwhelming. Love opens our eyes to joy and laughter we might not have known, and comforts us when faced with sorrow. In the end love lets us know that although we must face much of life by ourselves, we live in a fabric of connection, and ultimately we are not altogether alone. For me this makes all the rest worth it.