Three Questions to Ask Yourself About Love
Whether it’s romantic, plutonic, or maternal, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” We’d love to be able to say “It ain’t so, Mr. Shakespeare!” but we can’t. And why can’t we? Why is love such a rocky path filled with more frost heaves than a New England road in the spring? Because too often we barely discover who we are before we become lovers, friends, and mothers. When we hitch our cart to another wagon without full knowledge of what we’re carrying or how that load will change once we’re on the road, we set ourselves up for a rough ride. This lack of understanding is a roadblock in love; a roadblock that causes us to reevaluate our relationships (particularly the ones full of frost heaves.) Before we can set our GPS for the best possible route, there are three basic questions we should ask ourselves at the start of our journey to love.
1. Who am I?
Before we can love someone, anyone, we must first know who we are, alone, as individuals. There are lots of great quotes out there that ask us to go one step further than this. Lucille Ball once said, “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” According to her philosophy, we don’t just have to know who we are, we must love who we are. The reality is, though everyone loves Lucy, everyone does not love themselves. We may not embrace all of our idiosyncrasies. Who loves their love handles? That’s a tall order. We do, however, have to acknowledge them. Before we can be comfortable with someone else, we should know what we like, and what we don’t like, about ourselves.
To understand who we are, we can think about what we like to do, how we like to treat people, and how we like to be treated. When there’s not a soul in sight, what lights us up? What music do we love? What excites us? What drives us? In plain words, what are we passionate about? Before we were someone’s partner, best friend, or parent, we were us. Like so many other journeys in life, love’s journey should start from a place of self-awareness.
2. Who am I With You?
Are we the same person we have always been when we are with our beloved? Do we feel as though we can “be real” around each other? Though we think, feel, and act differently around different people, do we think, feel, and act totally unlike ourselves when we’re in our loved one’s presence? Like prisms catch the sunlight, people are reflections of the light that pass through them. Do we shine our brightest when we are with our love, or do our find ourself overshadowed by his or her presence?
Either way, the answer to this question leaves a lot to ponder. If we find that our authentic self shines brighter when we are with our special someone, then chances are it’s because he or she makes us feel like being ourself is okay. It’s more than okay. It’s expected. We are accepted for who we really are. On the the other hand, if we feel like our true self has changed out of a desire to please or appease who we’re with, then it’s time to reconsider whether this relationship is dimming our light and suppressing our genuine personality.
3. Who are We Together?
“Who are we together?” is an essential question in relationships. Do we help each other to be happy, healthy people? Do we encourage each other to be caring, emotionally sound individuals? Unfortunately, it’s not an easy question to answer. It’s not as simple as asking ourselves, “Are we good together?” When we love someone, lots of things feel good. This question goes beyond feelings. This question asks, “Are we good for each other?” Are the things that make us who we are “good” for the person we love?
To answer this question, it will help if we identify which role we play in our relationship. The world is full of givers and takers. If we’re a giver who’s in a relationship with a taker and that works for us both, then great. More often than not, a giver will give until there’s nothing left; but if a taker doesn’t learn to appreciate what’s been given and give back… do we even need to say it? Really, if two takers come together, we have bigger issues here than awareness. Focus on survival.
Think Over Your Answers
If by asking ourselves these simple questions we have reaffirmed what we have always known about who we are separately and together – congratulations! Reflecting on our character and how the people in our life help us to express our individuality will make our relationship more meaningful. Realizing that we have made a healthy choice to love someone who loves the real us increases our appreciation of him or her. If the answers to these questions aren’t what we wanted to hear, think about them. Does the problem lie within ourself? If so, do we want to change? Does the issue come from who we have become around our loved one? Can he or she accept us?
If the breakdown comes from who we are as a couple, can we become better for each other? Can we learn better ways of nurturing our differences rather than letting them divide us? Relationships, at heart, are about how two people relate to each other. It’s about compromise. Compromise is when two people concede something. If one person makes all the concessions, that’s not much of a compromise, is it? The course of true love may not run smooth, but this doesn’t mean that we should steam roll over each other in the process.
“Love is the goal, life is the journey” – Osho