Experiencing healthy love doesn’t have to mean settling down. Prepare to have your mind blown by revising and expanding your concept of romantic love.
“What’s it like being married?” A woman who I consider to be one of my spiritual mentors posed the question to a newly married couple who dropped in on one of my local community groups.
“You used to say you never wanted to settle down,” said another person in the room.
The newly married woman curled her mouth into a smile, her eyes drifting upwards as she searched for the right words.
“It’s not settling down,” she said. “It’s settling up!”
I had first spotted this couple about a year earlier, locked in each other’s gaze and embracing in the street outside an art studio. I was between relationships at the time, and their energy hit me deeply. It took effort not to stare out of envy and curiosity.
“That couple is in love,” I thought. “I want that.”
Fast forward to that night in my local community group, and there I was, yet again between relationships, except this time I spoke my thoughts out loud.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve seen you,” I confessed. “And I still want what you guys have.”
Clearing The Way
For me, the first step towards getting that was learning what that is not, and learning what that is not is what woke me up to the next big step forward—choose differently.
Here’s the thing: If you’re wondering what healthy love is, you haven’t had it yet. It doesn’t mean that your past experiences weren’t real, meaningful, or worthwhile, but it does mean you stand to have your mind blown from expanding or totally revising your concept and expectations of romantic love.
Getting to Different
Maybe you have a type: mysterious, dangerous, or spontaneous. Maybe you have a feeling you’re used to: consumed, erratic, or blinding. Whatever it is you typically go for, stop.
What might change if you put down your type and committed to staying open to what life presents you?
This isn’t permission to lower your standards. If health is important to you, there’s no need to test out the dedicated couch potato as a potential partner. This is about taking off your blinders and opening to new experiences.
It’s also about saying no to the toxic traits and patterns that have historically lit your fire. Dangerous and erratic have no place in healthy love. They’re short-lived shortcuts to intensity that don’t hold a candle to the real thing.
Choose is a Verb
Getting to different is only half the task. The other 50% of the work is to choose. Making a choice is an active process, and when it comes to healthy love, it starts by choosing your intention. Do you want a life partner? Do you want physical, emotional, and mental intimacy? Say it.
It’s scary to say it.
If you want it and don’t think it exists or don’t think you’re worthy of it, it’s hard to verbalize. It’s safer and easier to say I’ll take it if it comes, I don’t need it, or I’m fine by myself.
You know what that is? That’s settling down. And we’re interested in settling up.
Choosing to settle up isn’t compatible with sitting back and waiting to see what drifts your way. It’s staying aware, adopting an attitude of curiosity, and taking initiative when you see what you want. And when you own your intention, it’s only a matter of time before you find it.
The Hardest Part
This isn’t the time to play coy and conform to gender stereotypes. If you see what you want, have the courage to speak up and say, “I want that!”
Taking initiative was the hardest part of choosing differently for me. It requires strength through vulnerability, which is a type of courage that calls for a resilient pair of ovaries. Going for what you really want in love and partnership opens you up to the possibility of the fullest acceptance and deepest rejection.
Remember that unshakeable foundation of self love you’ve worked so hard to build? That’s what gives you the strength to take the risk. No matter what the outcome, you’re going to land in a safe (notice I didn’t say comfortable!) space.
What might choosing differently look like for you? Is there something or someone that might come into focus more clearly?
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