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en guarde

In love there is no way to self protect because to love deeply involves letting one's guard down. This is a basic human law.

Therefore I have always wondered about people who are able to slip in and out of relationships. It makes me wonder about the level of investment.

Maybe it's me who is naive.


  1. Some people do not let their guard down or love deeply,

    But others do so, and have learned how to grieve; how to mourn. It's a process one must go through on many, many occasions throughout life. An unpleasant one, to be sure, but less so with - like anything else in life - education, training, practice and *attitude*.

    We tend not to train ourselves to grieve. We'd rather lie to ourselves, and tacitly pretend that everyone we know, including ourselves, will live forever. We still believe in the fairy tale of finding the soul mate who completes us, and consider any relationship that does not itself last "forever" a "failure." But everyone and everything dies. We still train out child in readin', 'ritin' and 'rithmatic, but such spiritually impoverished education leaves us all unprepared to face what it is really like to live a human life. To the extent that religions fill in the gap, I have personally found no Western religion - especially not the Abrahamic ones - to do anything to alleviate the delusions and fairy tales with we have learned to carry with us to pretend we will not face the death of relationships (and friends and family) repeatedly throughout our lives. If anything they exacerbate the problem by encouraging staying in holy matrimony for its own sake and to believe with unwavering faith that they know precisely what happens after death.

    Personally, I was in two very intense, loving relationships last year. I deemed the people worth the risk, and took the plunge. When I ultimately hit a rock, it hurt like hell. But I was not blind to the possibility that such could happen, nor do I think it means the relationship "did not work out." Nor do I think my 7-year "marriage" (in scare quotes only because it was with a woman, and the law at the time did not allow us to marry legally) "did not work out" merely because it ended. I have learned how to grieve. When I hit a rock, it always hurts; the deeper I've plunged the more it hurts. But I do know my process of swimming back up and starting over.

    1. At the end of Woody Allen's Love and Death Diane Keaton delivers a soliloquy on the suffering borne out of both being in love and being out of it. At the end, the unmarried Tatiana says dryly "I dont want to get married I just want to get divorced".

      In truth we humans seem to suffer in both states but trying and having lost is better than not trying at all and the experience no matter how painful makes us better people in the end.

      Learning how to grieve is difficult as it necessarily involves staring in the mirror and recognizing our own contribution to the failure.

      What I take away from everything is that it is fascinating that in spite of our horrible flaws there are people out there willing to love us anyway which is a deeply magical and mysterious thing.

    2. I am glad that you have figured out how to start over Caryn. I have not been able to do that and have been left somehow damaged by the process and left with a healthy dose of cynicism about human nature. However I find that it is easier to let life happen to you organically and not turn away nor desire love. It will come or it won't but ultimately our internal happiness cannot hinge upon its presence.

    3. You know, as I read your first response, I was going to say the following: That it is my pleasure to disagree with you slightly on this thread. It's probably worth iterating the basics of the reply I was going to make . . . .

      Grieving may be difficult, but my point is that looking in the mirror to determine one's own contribution to what happened is far less difficult when one does not consider what happened to be a "failure." It is that framing that gets us.

      After all, and as you note, we suffer both in and out of love. To me, this suggests that, whatever problem we are trying to solve here, love cannot be the variable that needs to change. Something else needs to change.

      Suffering is a curious condition, our minds having evolved into instruments of self-torture. But with different framing and attitudes, the very same sensation can feel different. Like the "burn" from working out. If that sensation were happening when you were *not* exercising to build muscle, it would probably be interpreted as intolerable, unbearable pain. It's the knowledge that it is a healthy feeling that allows one to push through, or even enjoy, it during a workout. Which is fascinating.

      One can "suffer" a loss or one can fully experience a loss, and recognize it it as part of the continual upward journey as a human being. Video gamers talk about "Leveling Up" when they've completed one segment of a game's mission, and move onto the next. They seem not to notice they now have *lost* the world they mastered, and are, quite literally,starting over in a new universe of the game that will necessarily and by definition be harder. They don't focus on that, because leveling up is the whole point.

      Relationships *end*. They do not *fail*. This was my point. It is the framing of failure that exacerbates our suffering. And grief itself is a form of celebration. (Ever been to an Irish wake?) It is a celebration of what was lost, what could have been, etc. It is still a mourning. I'm not suggesting it is pleasant. But the amount one suffers there does depend on the framing.

      "What I take away from everything is that it is fascinating that in spite of our horrible flaws there are people out there willing to love us anyway which is a deeply magical and mysterious thing."

      We're all willing to love *one another* despite our flaws. Surely, you don't believe that the people willing to love us despite our flaws don't have their own. We are imperfect creatures, and always will be. We can only journey along a spiral staircase, ever upward, but always coming around to the same baggage and damage we have at some point. Hopefully, at those points, we're higher up, and have a better view.

      Be well, Joanna. I do agree that romantic love is not the key to our internal happiness. It is a perk for those who already have it.

    4. " I do agree that romantic love is not the key to our internal happiness. It is a perk for those who already have it" very well said Caryn...


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