How to Fall in Love
I recently read an article in the NY Times about how people fall in love. It got me thinking about my close personal relationships and wondering if people can control with whom they fall in love. While I'm not sure I would use the word "control," I do believe we have more of a say in who we love than Hollywood cinema and tabloids would have us believe.
Both of my long term relationships developed more from an intimate sharing of details and allowing someone to get to know you - really know you (the good, the bad, and the ugly) - than any hormonal longing. I loved them both deeply, the latter more than the first. I think that is because the latter came almost five years after the first. I was more mature, had a deeper understanding of who I was, and was much more secure with myself and my vulnerability. I no longer saw softness as a weakness, but an asset. When we reveal to someone else the places in ourselves that we most fear, we begin to build the trust upon which a solid relationship is formed. I can remember specific nights or events in each relationship that drew my partner and me closer together.
Often, circumstantial events bring us closer to someone in any relationship, romantic or platonic. A friend happens to be around when I get the news my grandmother passes. I have a moment where I can't hold back emotion and a few tears stream down my face when I'm teaching. While it doesn't happen often, in a moment like this, my students see me as another human struggling with the same emotions they have, or have all had, and I believe, grow fonder for me as a teacher. While the events may be circumstantial, our choice to be seen in those moments is ours.
Love is a by-product of truly being seen. I will go out on a limb here and say that if someone is uncomfortable with you being, you, or finds it difficult to hold space for you in those vulnerable moments, then it's not love. I think about the love I hold for my friends in the yoga community I've been so very fortunate to find. Our relationships formed quickly and have been long-lasting. These friends are the ones I call on when life gets hard and I feel really lost. That is because we met under no false pretense or façade of who we may have presented ourselves to be 'out there' in the real world.
We come together with a mutual understanding that we are there to do deep work and the self-inquiry we undergo will most likely bring up some parts of us that, normally, we would never show to the outer world. These friends have seen me at my "worst" - snot pouring out of my nose and hurt that would be uncomfortable for most to witness without wanting to 'fix it' or make it go away. To try to put up a wall and shield ourselves would defeat our purpose for being there.
This, by the way, is also how you begin to fall in love with yourself. Hang out in your vulnerable parts and look at them with kind and compassionate eyes. No need to rationalize or analyze them away. Accept them. Love them. Bear witness and see yourself truly raw. Allow the emotions to come and go. For, while it may not feel like it at the time, they will pass. Our feelings serve as road signs - guides that point to the inner most truth of ourselves if we are willing to fully feel and accept them and then ask why they have made themselves known.
So whether it is a deeply satisfying romantic relationship or a healthier relationship with yourself you desire, be willing to be seen. For there is nothing more desirable than the truth.