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Viewpoint: Believe in Love without Needing Love

Published: 12 February 2019 Tags: By James Harris

Give me the hand

that squeezes subtly in response to mine,
the breaths that mix just before the kiss,
the warmth of skin close but not touching.
Give me the privilege of being trusted
with the vulnerability of another life.

When it’s right, romantic love is pretty special. There’s no doubt about it. But often in our haste to find it we risk forcing what isn’t meant to be or settling for someone who isn’t good for us, and neglect other aspects of our life that could make us just as happy, if not more so.

For many, love can announce itself as an overwhelming desire to protect. To see another's preciousness so clearly everything about them seems vulnerable – not weak, but so in contrast with the harshness of the world they appear fragile and exposed. Love is to feel joy at the sight of a smile or sound of a laugh you caused, like splitting stone and revealing gold or cracking clouds to free a brief burst of sun. Love is to bask in the glow of someone else's happiness that you share or were responsible for, and, at its most unconditional and selfless, to be glad about the happiness of another that has nothing to do with you at all.

To love someone not because they give you what you think you need, but because you love them for who they are and want them to be happy…surely this is the purest form of love. As they say, ‘If you truly love someone you can let them go.’ There’s a difference between the urge to preserve and the covetous compulsion to possess; desire can be destructive when driven by fear of loneliness.

In many ways fear is the opposite of love, or is at least love withered into retreat, turned in upon itself by doubt and suspicion that may or may not be unfounded. It is a withdrawal, whereas love is a trusting outward reach. Fear is the reluctance to have, or the anxiety of having, in dread of loss. Learn to live and love unconditionally without ‘having’, without expectation of reward, and you will live and love freely and uninhibitedly without insecurity.

Love shouldn't necessarily feel like being made ‘whole’; ideally it would feel like an extra dimension added to an already complete and contented life. Though some degree of compromise is necessary for any relationship to succeed, it certainly shouldn't mean a compromise of independence or restriction of potential. Love should nurture and nourish us into an enhanced version of who we are already.

That said, there's nothing wrong with being open to and vigilant of an opportunity for love, as long as it's not being sought out of desperation to fill an emptiness better filled by something else. Actively dating by using apps or other means is a good way of widening the net and speeding up the search process. However, sometimes the best way of meeting the right person is to get out there and live your life, putting yourself in different situations where you are more likely to encounter like-minded people. Love – or at least the seed of love – at first meeting is possible, but getting to know someone at a natural pace under pressure-free circumstances, enables you to build a stable foundation of friendship a more intimate relationship can be built upon.

Valentine’s Day may rub romantic love in our faces like a mushy rose-petal bath-bomb, but instead of feeling like you’re going to waste just because you’re single (you’re not!), let’s take this opportunity to celebrate all kinds of love, the love taken for granted and overlooked that would be profoundly missed if it were gone. Companionship and close, caring, exciting relationships come in many forms; it’s entirely possible to live happy, single lives loved deeply by friends and family whilst meaningfully connected to the world, and be so fulfilled we don’t even miss having a partner at all. Quite often, what we hope to find in ‘The One’ is waiting to be discovered somewhere else.

Love is many things; it’s trust, it’s support, it’s loyalty, it’s laughter. Though opposites can attract, it's sharing interests and principles fundamental enough for differences not to matter. It's not being intimidated by each other's strengths, nor daunted by each other's weaknesses. It's seeing each other's oddness as a rare treasure you were lucky to find. But at its most meaningful and enduring it's the deepest, most vulnerable part of each person seeing and understanding the deepest, most vulnerable part of the other.

Genuine love doesn’t need to declare itself loudly to convince anyone it’s real (though there’s nothing wrong with sharing your happiness with the world!) If you witness such love, unsure that you’ll ever experience it yourself, sometimes it’s good enough to know that it exists at all.

If we are open to receiving and ready to give love, and find someone compatible who is too, then romantic love is possible for anyone. We just don't necessarily need it as much as we might think we do.