When people come to me for matters of the heart, one of the most frequent questions that I receive is “I want love—how can I find it?” I get this question so often, in fact, that I’ve wondered if there’s a clandestine formula to finding love. While I’m not sure that I’ve come across the formula, the assorted prayers and spells, candles, rituals, and open letters have all proven one thing: Love is something that we all want to experience.
Although it is something that we yearn for many times, we are in search of the wrong thing. What we don’t realize is that we too often mistake romance for love, unaware that the two are not identical; in fact, they are two very different concepts.
Romance is defined as the “mystery associated with love”. Romance, the verb, is the act of courting and wooing. Romance is the perfect night in the city and the feeling you get when sitting opposite an attractive person over candlelight. It is the exhilaration of a first kiss. It is as sweet as a handhold and is as fiery as a one night stand.
Romance shows us the possibilities of love, but one thing is for certain: romance is fleeting. When it flees and we come to the realization that those possibilities were just possibilities, this is when we shrug our shoulders and accept its departure or, sometimes, it’s disappearance leaves us unfulfilled, tangled, upset, and maybe even heartbroken. If we understood the difference between love and romance from the start, would we be in a better position to discover the love of our life?
According to American psychologist and psychometrician Robert J. Sternberg‘s “triangular theory of love,” there are eight forms of love. I won’t bore you with the descriptions of each, but I will give a general explanation of one form we are all in search of: consummate love. Consummate love is made up of three key things: passion, intimacy, and commitment. It is complete. It is the “fairytale” love.
We believe (and are sometimes taught) that consummate love only exists in the movies. While some of us dream of or cherish this kind of love, some of us may gag at the sight of couples who seem perfect. We say to ourselves, “They can’t be as perfect as they seem.” For some of us, negativity spews from our mouths when examining couples who seem to have found the secret recipe, not because we are truly unnerved by the sight of it, but because it is our deep desire to find a love this rewarding. Those who scoff (for whatever reason) at consummate love and those who have found it have often been bruised by poor lovers.
Yet so many times we are drawn to the kind of lover that can cause destruction in our lives and disruption in our souls. We ditch the “good” person and welcome the exciting partner, who may not have the best intentions. You may even ask yourself, “Why do I do this?” or “How do I end up in the same situation time and time again?” I can tell you this: It is your belief that you are not worthy of real, sacred love.
Real love forces you to blossom. Good lovers show us the uncomfortable truth that “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” (thank you, Marianne Williamson). A good lover, much like a solid friend and ally, will hold up the mirror to you. The poor lover has absolutely no strength to do so. Initially, it is more rousing to be with the bad lover but proves to be the trickier choice in the long run. By pushing away the solid lover, we push away our light. Ultimately it is easier to try and fix someone else then face the mirror and begin self-mastery.
If at this point you find these words resonating with you, you may be wondering, “Well, how do I find consummate love?” You must first ask yourself, “Am I ready to do the work for a love that lasts?”
It is not easy by any means. Real love isn’t necessarily something that is found. Almost always, you must be on the path to finding or rediscovering yourself first. To be the good lover, you must know what YOU want. By not knowing what you want, you make yourself vulnerable to the destructive behaviors of the poor lover. When you are unsure of what it is you want, your inner flame is much easier to blow out.
Real love is transformative; a poor lover is someone who has an inability to watch another transform. To be a good lover, you have to know what it feels like to be on both the receiving and giving ends of love. This requires courage of a different kind and strength that helps you stand firm when the ego tells you to run back to your old ways. It requires depth, wisdom, and the capacity to say “yes” and “no” with confidence.
Real love shows you the sides of yourself that you may have never seen or buried deep within; it deepens your relationships with others. It is an active choice that you have complete control over. In real love, you feel powerful. The blend of passion and intimacy exhilarate you in this kind of love; the commitment to it sets you free.
There is no end or a point where you say, “This is it,” as it is a journey. It should be you choosing to let another soul, who understands your dichotomy, be a witness to your personal evolution. Love is a learning experience, and as they say, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Consummate love is an emancipation.
So before we light any candles or say any spells, I urge you to write a proclamation to the universe for EXACTLY what you want in a lover. Then forget about it and work on your own liberation. You may just get exactly what you asked for.