On Love, Committed Relationship, and Endings in 21st Century Life

I Knew a Good Man, Darling

I knew
a good man
who couldn’t
relish spring
and the sweetness
blooming
in his garden.

Relax, my
love, enjoy,
I teased,
laughed, whispered,
pleaded.
Shouted.

Then
I realized
a piece
was
missing,
a promise:

I am yours
and will
never leave you,
darling.
Or sweeter:

I’ll only go
if you
want me
to,
and
if you
want to go,
I’ll say,
go,
darling.

           — Teresa Young

Love is a helluva drug

I wouldn’t usually, as in ever, add any kind of narrative to a poem. But today I feel like it. I’m breaking my own rule. Like eating potato chips late at night. :)

Because the dance of love is like nothing else. Love really is a helluva drug. (And who the hell first said that? I’ve been trying to find out.) There’s nothing more mysterious than love.  Nothing more maddening. Nothing that’s ultimately more of a secret.

Yes, I’ve been feeling for years that every love relationship is a secret. No one outside of its two-person tango can really know the particular nuances of how they move together. Of the inner climate of the relationship, including its dark patches and desert places. Whether or not it’s ultimately a place of mutual growth, of rest, of self-expression. Of comfort and delight. All that we crave and deserve.

Love and commitment

And really, does a committed love relationship have to be all that? Or is commitment itself, that willingness, more important than partners being all things to each other?

And is being everything to one soul even healthy?

In fact, you could say romantic love and commitment are separate topics. Though in modern western culture, where half of committed relationships end, successful, long-term committed love is a rich, ever fascinating focus and goal. And note that I skipped the word marriage. It leaves some folks out.

That which ends also matters

There are other crucial aspects of committed relationship, too. Like endings. It’s important that they’re done well, with respect for all parties. With kindness and gentleness, honoring both what was and what is. It’s possible. The truth really does set us free.

And of course, even aided by gentleness, endings also burn like hell. The pain burns cleanest if we’re as kind to one another as possible in the process. It helps us heal. And we do.

Anyway, life is long, and we want—we are determined—to love and be loved well. Our expectations are astronomical. And just like every other form of freedom in 21st century life, we’re free to pursue what we want most.

The how of it all matters

I’m profoundly interested in how we care for one another and ourselves along the way. Indeed, I say it’s one of our most sacred opportunities here on the wild, wonderful journey of modern life.

Are you in the throes of something immense in the realm of love? Then proceed gently, oh, so gently, dear one, both with others and with yourself.