Evaluating Whether it Works, The Courage to Love, + The Perfect Ideal

As a culture, we've invested SO much into The Perfect Ideal that I often hear/see people making lists of their non-negotiables in relationships.

They've gotta be as spiritual as you are (of course). They've gotta work out. Have a meditation practice. Eat organic. Go to therapy. Communicate well. Be financially secure. Weigh no more than a certain standard.

You must be this tall to ride this ride.

As if we think those things will guarantee us...what? That we'll never get hurt? That we'll feel as deeply fulfilled as we think we're entitled to? That we'll both be safely invested in sameness and perfection and won't ever have to do the inglorious work of loving each other in the moments when you hate each other.

It takes enormous courage to choose to love and accept and open for the sake of it because it's what you want. Rather than because they tick off every item on your (fantasy) list.

Really, the better question to ask---rather than, "Does he meditate?"---is, "Does it work?"


Does the relationship work?

I mean, really, does it?

Are you able to share your feelings without it causing an argument? Do you work well as a team? Do you prioritize respect and love for each other above your ideals and even when it's easier not to? Does it feel right? Do you fight well and repair well afterwards? Do you listen to each other? Do you get to be fully expressed and authentic? Do you bring out the best in each other or the worst? Is your life better together than it'd be apart? Are you willing to love each other when things get difficult? Does the relationship overall bring more joy than pain? Do you want close enough to the same things?

Does it work?

Because what actually works is different than our ideas of what'll work. And the ideas could just get in the way and keep you from seeing the love right in front of you.

Choosing to love isn't an ungrounded, blind, new-agey ideal. It's for those of us willing to get gritty and real and look ourselves in the eyes and find the courage to put our heart first and allow ourselves be opened so wide that we're transformed by it.

Because love isn't an idea. It's a felt experience you trust in your body and sometimes it defies all logic. Letting go of what you think you know is an act of trust and courage.

Choosing love also means that we don't need the relationship to work perfectly in every way at every time. We can flex with the organic, ever-shifting reality that is intimate partnership. Sometimes the sex is great but the finances aren't. Sometimes you're working great together as a management team but the emotional intimacy feels a bit lacking. Sometimes you forget the love because you're fighting so much. Sometimes the friendship feels deeply nourishing but it's not as hot as it used to be.

That's all part of it. Choosing love might even mean that you seek support when necessary to help the parts that aren't currently working get back on track. There's strength in that.

So, assuming the relationship works, do what you can to summon the courage to love in the moments when it's easier to judge. I'm working on it too.

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All my love,