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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

On Being a Better Chooser

I am endlessly fascinated by relationships. Why we love who we do, why we're attracted to who we are, and why we often keep making the same bad choices over and over again.

We could explore the science of attraction - there are endless scientific theories involving pheromones, hormones and our screwed up childhoods, but at a certain point we need to realize - we have a choice. As Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better." Well, one can only hope.

I have a history of being a bad chooser. I don't mean I've been in abusive relationships, but I've put up with things I probably shouldn't have. I allowed myself to be marginalized and not a priority, and excused the behavior even when it hurt. Badly.

When I read this post today, citing 10 Red Flags to be aware of, I wondered why we so often overlook those flags waving in our face instead choosing to see what we want, and not what is true?

There are lots of reasons - fear of being alone, (better to be alone than wish you were) thinking people will change (they don't) and here's a biggie - not thinking we deserve more.

When it comes to romantic relationship all too often we think that it's all about is that dreamy, swoony falling in love part. That phase where even if your beloved said they hated kittens and bunnies you'd think it was adorable. But the thing is, that's not love. That's infatuation. It's lust. And it never lasts. Nor should it - if we were on the drunken high all the time we'd never get anything done.

"Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don't blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being "in love," which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident."  Louis de Bernières

Love is more than dreamily looking into someone's eyes, and thinking everything they do is wonderful. It's more than candlelight dinners and flowers. It is caring about someone, really caring about them.

Real love is:
Being there. Not just for the good stuff, but everything else too.
Being able to put someone else first
Knowing not every moment of every day is going to super
Giving each other permission to be yourselves
Knowing you can never make someone else happy, that's their job
Not needing to control someone else
Being secure enough in what you have that you can be okay with that person having a life beyond you
Knowing you can't fix anyone else, but showing up to listen and be supportive
Not wanting or needing to change the other person
Realizing that as important (and fun) as sex is, it's just a part of a relationship, not the basis for having it. (That's a whole other thing that is not really about love.)
Being able to say how you feel without fear of a sigh and an eye roll. Ugh, the worst!
Being heard and seen.
Being honest, even when it's hard.

I could go on and on, but you get the drift...Real love isn't a scene in "You've Got Mail," or "The Holiday." It's less stilettos and more Uggs. Not that you can't dress it up and make it pretty. But it's real, and it's juicy and if you're lucky enough to find it, really, really special.

Chances are no one is going to show up in your driveway with a boombox or on your steps with large cards declaring their love for you. Be glad. That's not real. The guy who shows up with soup when you're sick? He's the keeper.

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