The Vine

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Theories on Love

My LoverMan left for Chicago this afternoon, a work trip, then an air hockey tournament. We have been spending so much good time together that I am anticipating some lonesome nights where, instead of cleaning house or anything practical, I might just jump-start this bloggy thing since I will have many man-free hours on my hands. But since love is on my mind...

In my line of work, which is magic, making potions, and running my witchy shop, we get a lot of questions about love. How to get it, how to hold it, how to make it work. A lot of time is spent talking people out of casting love spells on people. The second big lecture Zarah and I give is how not to be taken advantage of in love, how to get out of "bad love." In fact, our usual advice is that matters of love are best worked on in mundane, non-magical methods. This is where a magic shoppe becomes a low-budget mental health resource.

It was not so long ago that I felt myself unqualified to give advice about love. After the end of a fourteen year love relationship, I had a couple of short-term flings, then headed straight for two very ill-advised love affairs that were very painful when I got dumped. After the second of these I wised up and stayed out of love and off the market for a full six months, during which time I figured out that I was a really cool chick who deserved good love or I wasn't having any of it. When I was ready to make a go of it again I realised that I had no clue, that after a 14 year romance, I was basically at the college-age maturity and street smarts about dating. In talking about this to my dear sweet ex, I found that he had come to the same conclusion, that he needed some professional advice! And went out and got some books, which he loaned me, in the nick of time.

Bad titles but wow! What an education! I was amazed and wondered, "Why don't they teach this stuff in high school?" Most of us waste a huge percentage of our productive, young adult lives getting into bad love or recovering from it. Nina Attwood, Be Your Own Dating Service, and Date Lines: Everything from Hello to I Do. Told you the titles were bad...

A few basics. One is: There is no such thing a a soul mate. Get over it! For each and every one of us, there are many, hundreds if not thousands of ideal mates with whom we can forge a rewarding relationship. For crying out loud, there are 6 1/2 BILLION humans now, so we can dispence with the scarcity issues. Almost every week, I work with someone who, because they believe so-and-so is their soul mate, flounders in pain, causing pain, trying to make a doomed relationship function with aforementioned "soul mate." I think that this feeling of "once in a lifetime" evolved from when there were not many humans to mate with, and we had few choices of mates. Maybe back then, before the huge population spike, you might have had to put up with a lot of misery from your soul mate in order to get laid and have a shot at reproducing. Not anymore. We can afford to be very selective, and to move on if the thing is not exactly what we want.

Second is: Do move on if your love isn't what you want and need, and the quicker the better, because of a human emotional process called "attachment." People get attached to people, and the more time spent, and the more intimate that time spent is, the more attached you become to that person, whether or not the relationship is rewarding and healthy, or hopelessly codependant and incompatible. Breaking the emotional bonds of attachment (what we call heartbreak) gets harder and harder the longer we stay in the nonfunctional relationship. So, say, that was fun but it won't work, bye-bye, no we can't just be friends.

Third is: Good love and rewarding, lasting relationships are based on a foundation of shared values and desire to be in the relationship. Shared values means you see eye-to-eye on things like politics, manners, lifestyle, boundaries, religion, morality. The big stuff. The "opposites attract" thing is a lie.

I know that I personally wasn't grown-up enough to qualify for any of thes things until I was close to forty. And by "grown-up" I mean mentally healthy, understanding who I am and that that was okay and what I want out of life and from a relationship to some degree of certainty, and figuring out that it was okay to ask for it.

That mentally healthy thing sure is the challenge for many of us, and I've told my customers that "True love is made possible by good mental health."


Post a Comment

<< Home