Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Is love in your heart or your head?

Every author that writes about relationships is bound to have some strong opinions about how humans love and relate. I won’t deny there’s always been a strong romance element to everything I write.  Maybe it’s because love’s always fascinated me.  It’s astonishing to see what people will do to be loved and accepted.  How many will face incredible fears and risk so much on the chance of being cherished by someone else?  It's truly mystifying.

Ever notice how some things defy traditional logic?  How some things are bigger than right or wrong, good or bad, up or down.  I'm sure you can all think of times when something defied your codes of understanding or you took a risk even though it didn't seem sensible.  Love does that for us, you know?  It changes the rules and makes us wander into the gray areas and see bigger pictures.  At least it does when it's the good stuff!

When I was young I believed passionately love was all in the heart.  Two decades later I know love is all in the mind.  (Others of you, I know for a fact will argue it’s in the testicles but that’s another blog.)  But there’s one thing all lovers need to be aware of: love is an equal exchange.  A value for value partnership.  It’s when that value is missing or the perception of that the value exchange is missing that partnerships tend to break down.

Now, some of you may find this very shocking because the concept is either contradictory to your own experience or so foreign to you that it doesn’t even register intuitively. It's amazing how many people get uncomfortable when you say that love should be a value for value exchange. But think about it for a minute. 

Think about those times when you were most unhappy in love.  It was most likely because some violation of this value for value ‘golden rule’ was violated.  Either you gave something to someone and they didn’t respond in kind or there was some agreement that was made, either clearly stated or understood that one or both of the parties violated.

Now, in some cases the partnership is unequal but both parties have agreed to this arrangement.  Many of you know people, maybe close friends or members of your own families, who wish to be the slave or unequal of another.  In such cases if both people agree to this then there is an actual value for value exchange.  Even if both parties don’t verbally agree to an uneven exchange, the fact that both parties stay in the relationship constitutes an agreement.  The very act of staying in a dissatisfying relationship, for whatever the reason, overrides any emotional dissatisfaction either party may feel about the relationship.  An agreement for dissatisfaction is, in this case, the value for value exchange.  That’s one of the fascinating things about love.  It doesn’t have to be satisfying to draw two people together.  In many cases it is, in fact, the suffering, the sympathy, the pain that one or both parties really seek to feed on.

The value for value that I'm speaking of here is always in the minds of the individuals.  It’s their minds that set that value and seek to have it satisfied.  If the value sought is slavery, abuse, indifference, so be it.  If the value is equality, inspiration, affection and deep respect, so be it.

That’s the beauty of freedom.  In the end we can choose whatever love we wish to choose.  And no matter how we claim to want something extraordinary, something golden and pure, in the end we pick what we value: some experience we think we need or deserve.  It may very well be that we were taught to undervalue ourselves, in which case our relationships can clue is in that maybe we should start to see our own worth before we seek to share it with another.  That too is valuable.

But you may say: “That’s just not true, Hayden!  I was in a relationship where someone cheated on me, or was unaware of my feelings even though I gave him everything,” or “I loved him and he just walked all over me.  That’s just not right!”

Maybe.  Except there’s one thing we all should be aware of: People treat us the way we train them to treat us.  If we allow others to treat us in an unequal fashion: to take from us without a value for value exchange, then we are, by our inaction, making an agreement to be treated this way.

The concept behind the lovers in my novel Taboo, Aiden and the Dark Man (Yes he does have a name that will come out in book two) is the illustration of the idea that love should leave us better for the experience.  Engaging in a love relationship should inspire is to become bigger and better.  Not settle for laziness. 

So many people say that once they found their partners they let themselves go. Why?  Shouldn’t love: that thing that inspires people to face their darkest most terrifying fears inspire people to become better rather than lazy?

In an ideal world both partners should treat each other with respect and equality.  Both rising to the demands of the relationship to become something better: to consider each other’s growth and special talents. 

Except there’s one problem with that, it means we have to be excellent ourselves and be generous with that excellence in our relations with others.  That takes some self awareness courage and strength.  The good news about that: you just have to make a decision that’s what you want and stick to it.

But then, you wouldn’t want anything less for yourself.  Would you?

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