Love is one of the countless things that we tend to complicate in our attempt to understand and master it.
Why can love feel so elusive?
Why do so many relationships fail?
How can we cultivate a lasting love?
Let’s dive in to understand and master a love that is sustainable, powerful and magical.
In The Beginning, There Was Oxytocin
It all begins with a little hormone hidden away in your hypothalamus.
Someone catches your eye.
Butterflies alight in your stomach.
You are driven to distraction, interested in nothing and no one but them.
Before long, days…weeks…months..., you’re professing your love.
Oxytocin is nicknamed the love hormone for a reason. Stimulated most strongly through childbirth, lactation and orgasm, the love hormone packs a powerful punch!
The object of our affection can sometimes feel more like an obsession. And like any good obsession, we're often the last ones to see it.
We rail at naysayers, 'But I love them!'
They become our North Star, leading us closer and closer to our true self, our destiny... or so we think.
There comes a moment though, a Rubicon, when the cream rises to the top or sours in our mouth. This is the moment we all wait for, never fully realizing we've been holding our breath in anticipation.
You know the moment.
When we get our definitive answer to those fateful questions.
Is this real love?
Will this last?
Are they the one?
By now, you've likely encountered statics stating that nearly 50% of marriages end in divorce. If we included long-term committed relationships outside of the legal label of 'marriage', that rate would likely be even higher.
Why is that?
And Then There Was Reality
Every relationship has a honeymoon phase, when everything is magic, unicorns and rainbows.
That magic that you feel is oxytocin hard at work.
What happens when the honeymoon phase ends and oxytocin levels balance out?
Well, here's a scary fact that largely explains high divorce and breakup rates.
The honeymoon phase can last up to two years or more. Many people get engaged and/or married around a year of dating. Many, in a much shorter time than that.
Just to make sure this point isn't missed, let me say that another way. Many get married, then the honeymoon phase ends.
It's starting to come together isn't?
Now consider than many have a child within the first year or two of marriage. Remember, that childbirth and lactation pump out serious levels of oxytocin.
Well, for women especially, there's a good chance that honeymoon period just got extended, right?
Maybe then there's another child, further extending the oxytocin blasts. And of course, your partner likely does the occasional thing that warms your heart and produces a few love hormone hits.
If the sex is mind-bending, you could be living hit to hit to hit.
But eventually, things slow down. Your system regulates.
Perhaps there are no children. Or you have less time for the mind-bending sex.
Or simply start to engage with life outside of your partner more.
The hits come further and further apart.
You look over at your partner one random day and one of two thoughts pop into your head.
They are the most amazing person in the world and I am so blessed to share my life with them.
Who the hell is that and how did I get there?
If your response is the latter, yours was destined from the beginning to be a temporary relationship.
But how do you know?
And how do you develop the former instead?
If you are a parent, you already know the answer to this, whether you realize it or not.
No parent ever wants to be wakened in the dead of night to change dirty diapers and give a feeding.
No parent wants to be puked on or called out of work to pick up a sick kid.
No parent wants to set boundaries that instigate their child to rail and scream how unfair they are.
No parent wants to wait anxiously awake in bed for their teenager to return safely home before they can finally sleep.
Parents do these things, not because they're flooded with oxytocin for the rest of their lives (there's a honeymoon period for new parents too) but because they love their child in a sustainable way.
Sustainable love does not ask, what's in this for me but rather, how can I show up for you.
Sustainable love drives us to support our loved ones in being the best versions of themselves, regardless of how we might be impacted.
It drives us to communicate, 'I see you, I hear you, I value you,' even - here's the cincher - when we least feel like it!
While love may start as a hormone driven emotion, it is much more than that.
Love is a verb.
Love, real love, sustainable love, says that, 'you matter so much, I will do all in my power to support you in meeting your needs and being the best version of yourself, even if that means you might not be happy with me.'
Now that's a sentiment every parent understands well!
Taking that same stance with other relationships is how we love sustainably.
From our significant other to friends to colleagues to a stranger on the street, loving sustainably starts with truly seeing the person and their innate value.
Love has nothing to do with us. Love is all about the other.
Seeing and hearing and valuing and lifting up others in our life who are important to us.
And when we form relationships with healthy people who also practice sustainable love, we too are seen and heard and valued and lifted up.
But Wait, There's More!
Love extends beyond our relationships to other humans.
When we are healthy enough*, we realize that our species is not the most important thing on the planet.
We realize that every species - animal and plant - matters. The planet itself matters; the entire universe matters.
We realize that there is no hierarchy to neatly ascertain value but that it is all invaluable.
And when we realize these things, we feel love, sustainable love, for them all.
That sustainable love compels us to cherish and protect, to honor and respect, to uphold and value all that is.
We are led to consider the impact our actions have on everything and everyone around us. And we make better decisions. Thoughtful decisions. Loving decisions.
So, how do you get to this sustainable love?
It starts with YOU.
Usually unwittingly, our parents teach us how to be in relationship beginning in infancy.
How they treat us, is how we believe we are supposed to be treated. Our self-image, who we believe ourselves to be, grows from this. And it becomes the template for all future relationships. Including our relationship with ourself.
Did your parents teach you that you are the most amazing and perfect and beautiful being ever to be born? If so, I could almost guarantee that you are already loving sustainable.
For the rest of us, there's some work to do.
To love others, we first need to be loved. Especially, by ourselves.
Self-love can feel egotistical to those who were not raised by good enough* parents. Not only is it not egotistical but it is critical to a healthy psyche and successful life.
If you struggle to name your innate strengths (innate, not learned skills) and values,
if you struggle to be alone with your thoughts,
if you feel lost without a significant other in your life,
if you feel that you have little to no control in your own life,
if you bow under the pressure of your inner critic,
if you blame yourself for all that goes wrong,
if you blame others for all that goes wrong,
if you believe that some people are better than others,
if you feel that something is wrong with you,
if compliments make you squirm,
if you struggle with imposture syndrome,
if you fear failure,
then it is time to grow some self-love.
Here's the thing.
It is only when we love ourselves that we can truly know how to love another in a healthy way that honors both parties.
And it is only when we give sustainable love that we are likely to get it.
The first step in growing into sustainable love is to learn to love yourself. And you do that by healing all the hurts that get in the way.
I'm Ready for Sustainable Love
What does healing look like?
The short answer is that healing looks like whatever you need it to look like. But let's break that down.
We each have our own blend of hurts and unhealed internal wounds. Most of which, we're completely unaware are still plaguing us.
As a Trauma Recovery Coach, I teach that we each have our own trauma recipe. Ergo, we each need our own healing recipe.
There are loads of qualified coaches, therapists, energy healers and other trained helping professionals that can support you on your healing journey.
No matter who joins your team, it can be helpful to have one go-to person that can support you in designing your healing recipe and in processing what comes up along the way. For this, a trauma trained coach or therapist is often a safe choice.
If you have questions on how to start your healing journey, reach out any time. No sales. Just conversation.
To help you get started, I'd like to share a short video with you.
Shanon Dawn and I break down the layers of love and how to move towards a more stable and trustworthy love over time.
You will learn the love equation and how to get started on that most important step in developing sustainable love.
Watch now: Understanding and Mastering Love
Here's to a life and a world brimming with sustainable love!
*'Healthy enough' is borrowed from the concept of a 'good enough parent' coined by Donald Winnicott. This speaks to the resilience of children and the human-ness of parents. No one is perfect! And thank goodness for that resilience that supports kids with 'good enough' parents to be happy and healthy.
Likewise, being 'healthy enough' means just that. Not perfect health, because there's no such thing. But living a healthy enough lifestyle that supports your longevity and quality of life in general and in the long run.
As an Empowerment Coach, I support ambitious entrepreneurs and other big dreamers who are ready to reconnect with themselves to live the life of their dreams with confidence, authenticity and prosperity.
For support join the Thrivers Collective and enjoy free resources such as Virtual Work Sessions to boost productivity, writing workshops and Emotion Processing Sessions to move the needle on reconnecting and healing, https://ascensionwellnesslife-community.mn.co/settings/landing-page and for more information, visit https://www.ascensionwellnesslife.com/