Love Lessons #1: Let There Be Space in Your Togetherness

How build relationships that last

Posted Feb 01, 2012

I don't know about you, but I always thought that love was about finding a soul mate that I would love and that would love me back, unconditionally.  I believed the myth that if I found the right person, then the love would just come.  It would be so easy; it would feel so wonderful, so right.  I believed Plato's theory that we are each half a person in search of our lost other half.  When we find our other half, we will finally feel whole.

I don't know about you, but I had to learn the hard way that this expectation leads to a lot of heartache and disappointment.   It is a kind of love, perhaps what we would call romantic love or (to credit Plato) Platonic love.  And in the beginning of some relationships—whether these are dating relationships, friendships, or relationships with a special group of people—it seems like two halves do make a whole.  We just click in place with each other.  We like the same things, hold the same views, think the same thoughts, finish each others' sentences.   There is no distance, no space. 

The lesson that we inevitably learn through life—life being such a good teacher—is that this kind of love is fleeting.  It isn't solid.  Real love—or what I might call mature love—comes in honoring the differences between one self and another self, and working with those differences.  Mature love is the kind of love where two separate people come together, each working to become whole in-and-of themselves.  And out of this wholeness, they meet and build something stronger together than either would have alone.

Many wise people have made this observation.  Khalil Gibran put it this way, "Let there be spaces in your togetherness... And stand together, yet not too near together:  For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow."

So let there be space in your togetherness.  If you can work that out, then you have a love that you can really count on.

Copyright 2012, Jennifer L. Kunst, Ph.D.

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