Here are the skills I have been observing in the fantastic lovers I am lucky enough to know:
Also smell. Touch. Hear. Taste.
Open ALL your sensory receptors and receive what streams into you from your beloved…. the light waves reflected from that face, the aroma of that hair, the smoothness of the palm of that hand. When you think about it, every sensory experience you have is an accepting of something into your body. Let it in.
[And you can skip the rest of this post if you get this one step down because then good loving follows easily. But don’t take my word for it — here’s my favorite example: “Jesus, seeing him, loved him.” Period. That’s all it took.*]
Enjoy the beloved as is. Accept. Wallow in the gloriousness of your beloved — not in some future potentially “improved” state. Just now.
3. Wish them well in your heart. Mean it.
Once you see and accept someone, you want them to feel good… by their own definition of pleasure. You don’t demand they make YOU happy.
4. Ask “how can I support you in the way you want to be supported?”
Ahhhh. Yes. That.
I got this question from a couple — married for ten years — who are so visibly in love. They told me that it’s not important what YOU think is going to make your beloved feel good. No matter how sure you are that they will be happier if … you call… or don’t call. If you clean their car or refer them to a therapist or tickle their ears or buy them a new wardrobe or revise their CV and set up a few interviews. It’s not YOUR idea of what it means to feel good that is most accurate nor your perception of what they “need.”
Shoot this is hard for me.
5. Consider the thing(s) they want from you. Do it — if it doesn’t damage you.
Also tricky for me.
Does it damage you to leave your beloved alone or be more involved or whatever it is that person wants? Only you can know. For sure do not do anything that makes you feel at all icky. Follow your gut at its clearest and cleanest. Tune up your Body Compass, and use it.
Then be clear with them as well as with yourself. Don’t tell yourself you love someone and yet not provide the support they want without any explanation. You don’t have to do what they want — not at all — just explain why it will damage you to do it. There’s no malice when you’re clear.
PS — Two tips that sometimes help me with the hardest, trickiest parts (#4 and #5) — at least they work when I remember to apply them. (Or should I say when I remember even to WANT to apply them):
- Return to #1. Always.
- When you are suffering with the difficulty of #4 or #5 or can’t tell if you’re being honest with yourself, try finding your most painful thoughts — the ones where you feel sick even thinking them — and exploring them with The Work of Byron Katie. It works. Which I’m guessing is why she calls it that.
Yes, I know that you did not ASK me to support you in this way, that here I am going ahead and telling you something I think is perfect for you. Feel free to disregard, and please let me know how I CAN be of service to you.
* And that was with respect to the rich guy — the one who had as much chance of getting to heaven as does a camel of getting through the eye of a needle. But when Jesus really SAW him, Jesus loved him. It can’t be helped.