February is the month in which many of us turn our thoughts to love matters of the heart. In instances like this, it’s difficult to remember that a relationship is not a romantic fairytale. After all, for some of us the perfect idea of what romantic love is takes shape from characterization in the epic storylines of novels, television and films. At some point though, it’s time to let go of the romantic love fantasy and realize that it can only ever be a substitute for real, connected, vulnerable intimacy packaged in all its glorious imperfection and everyday actions. So, what does this mean?
Perhaps most importantly, is the realization that an authentic relationship can be life-changing, but this doesn’t mean that it’s a romance movie. In truth, the prince/princess exists, but it’s a unique individual who is also human. Don’t put your partner on a symbolic pedestal. Make an intention to truly get to know your partner so that there’s a shift from idealism to authenticity. Likewise, own who you are. Find the lightness in faults and issues because real love is impossible unless you and your partner treat one another with loving kindness and respect. Come into the relationship without an expectation that your partner needs to complete you. Instead, seek to feel whole within yourself so that you are sharing your life interdependently and can enjoy the space in relationships as much as you do the togetherness.
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When I was a child, I remember my grandfather unexpectedly pulling my grandmother up out of her chair while she was watching a game show. He swooped her into his arms and began to dance with only Alex Trebek’s voice as background music. We all laughed, but the lesson in this is to maintain a strong emotional connection with your partner. The secret to loving relationships and to keeping them dynamic throughout the years is a deep emotional connection. Consciously fall in love again and again. Seek emotional synchronicity and find the cues within your communication to be dialed into your partner as often as possible. It’s very true that we seek security within our relationships, but what’s often overlooked is that this security doesn’t necessarily refer to finances. When there are internal fears, criticism, rejection or lack of attention an emotional disconnect occurs and the mind interprets this as a danger. Anchor the relationship with positivity and express appreciation often. Learn how to talk with your partner not just in a way that supports you, but instead fully supports the foundation of both of you.
Now before celebrating these newly found love vibes, let’s just touch on the mind because it can really trip a person up. The mind has a couple of nasty habits. First off, it likes to take the buzz out of a relationship high by trying to focus on being “right” instead of being “understanding.” The mind also enjoys remembering unfortunate things said and done. Knowing this, think twice before you listen to the first message in your mind next time a partner upset occurs. Keep your emotions in check aka keep your mouth shut and don’t act out. Call a time out and go cool down in whatever way releases your anxiety. Then reset your mind with positivity by intentionally overlooking what annoys you and focusing on what’s important about your relationship.
In the end, true love isn’t an illusion, but it is more epic when we learn how to connect with a partner that loves and values us to the point that the relationship is made stronger by its growth. Maybe there is even one song that resonates…"At Last", sung by Etta James.