Hump Day Crush: What’s Love Got To Do With It?

When I was in high school, every year at about this time the business club would hand out a bunch of surveys in homeroom. Those would be collected and, when Valentine’s Day rolled around, for a couple of bucks you’d be able to pick up a “Computer Dating Fun” sheet from the school store in the cafeteria. That sheet would have on it ten names of school mates of the opposite sex, printed on the then state-of-the-art dot matrix printer of some out of state company. Each of those names, in descending order, was someone more or less compatible with you.

Most of the time, it was good for a laugh. Other times it was food for thought. For a year or two it was a source of phone numbers (I’m guessing that got discontinued as soon as someone complained or was only done accidentally to begin with).

Without fail, every year, I bought it.

When we’re teenagers we think we understand Love. We fall in it readily and pine for it and scream about it to the stars. With out hormone riddled bodies and still settling minds, we don’t realize how simple–and how complex–Love actually is.

Love isn’t something that’s quantifiable. Love isn’t something that’s even logical in many cases. Trying to reduce it to such cheapens it and gives us false understanding.

Love is tangled in our culture with Romance and Passion and any number of other things. Sometimes it gets so muddled that we mistake those other things for Love proper. Sometimes we believe that Love is one of those other things.

The truth is, there is one time in our lives when we have a full and complete understanding of Love. That time is from when we’re born until shortly before we begin to develop the ability to think coherently and communicate. That transition, from a state of being into a state of thinking forever alters our ability to understand Love.

Not that we ever stop trying.

Very often, though, we get caught up in the sidelines and pretenses.

We get stuck on the idea that the hot-burning Romance that matches with what we’ve seen in movies is what Love is supposed to be like. We forget that Love is an unconditional thing that more often smolders quietly, keeping us warm long into the darkest of our nights. A little stoking and those good oak embers can be brought to flame, giving light in the darkness as well as heat.

Not that Romance and Passion don’t have their place. Many a long-burning fire is list with the flash and bang of quick, bright burning. There has to be good fuel beneath that kindling. Without it, you just end up with cold, bitter ashes.

When things don’t go well–when that bright and shining relationship burns out and leaves us burned–we focus too long on those ashes. We get caught up on the fresh burns from playing in that so recently gone fire. We forget that it was fun while it lasted. We forget that there was no lasting foundation built before it was lit.

A good relationship is based on common ground. That’s what programs like the Computer Dating Fun lists I have from high school specialize in. It’s easy to find common ground (as long as people are mostly honest). In the fast-paced, high-pressure and ever-changing world we can forget that.

Let me say it again: A good relationship is based on common ground and it’s easy to find common ground.

That relationship, though, may not be at all the prototypical Romance fueled passion fest you’re hoping for. It  may end up being a long-lasting platonic Friendship (which most people don’t count as a kind of Love–it is).

It may not be what we want.

It may be what we need.

Romances come and go, more often than not. It’s the platonic relationships that can more readily endure. They’re the ones that can grow deep and open our eyes to the possibilities of the world around us.
It is those deep relationships, where Love is given and received with no strings attached, that opens the doors for the most important kind of Love. They can show us how to Love ourselves.
Before deep and lasting Romance can come our way, we have to first cultivate a deep Love of ourselves. Without that most basic foundation, that deepest layer of life-sustaining warmth, everything else is transitory. Sometimes, it takes a little outside spark to get that deep fire going. And just like any good fire, it needs to be fed a little every now and then.

Self-Love shouldn’t be confused with arrogance or a sense that you are perfect as you are. Instead, it should be a recognition of the potential that lies within you and a commitment to work toward realizing that potential. It’s not always easy to start and can often seem to sputter out, but it’s worth it.
That kind of fire can spark all sorts of other things.

Maybe even a real-life torrid romance like you see on TV. Maybe something better and more real.

If it was easy to have a long-lasting Romantic relationship, everyone would be doing it all the time. Without a doubt, they’re fun and gratifying. But we all know it takes more than just being comfortable with yourself and having some things in common with another person for Romance to kick in (let alone for it to last). There’s something extra–something ethereal and unquantifiable that makes it work. No one has found a way to reliably detect that before it happens.

Every type of flame has it’s place. Maybe all you want are those big, bright and quick Passion filled Romances. That’s fine, there are plenty of other people out there looking for that, too. As long as everyone involved is on the same when it comes to the terms of the relationship, party on.

Today is Valentine’s Day. A day we talk a lot about Love. The reality of it is, Love doesn’t actually have a lot to do with Valentine’s Day. Love’s what goes on during the rest of the year when we’re not talking about.

Love is what we do not what we say.

Anything less that living it gets us farther away from the heart of the fire.

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