Be a Better Lover – Skill #3 – I honor your individuality

volatire on thinking Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I am committed to personal transparency.  I think failure to practice today’s skill – Honoring Feelings and Ideas, I recognize your right to feel and think as you do, led to the demise of my second marriage. I frequently disagreed with how he thought and felt, and had a judgment that life would be better if he came around to my point of view. I thought I was recognizing his right to think and feel as he did, but secretly, I thought he was crazy. And I never felt like my husband got me.  I always got the impression that if I didn’t agree with his view of the world, and his strategies for dealing with it, there was something wrong with me, some flaw in my thinking.  And  If you want to enrage me in an instant, tell me I make no sense.

It’s easy to love people who agree with us.  These people take no work at all, it comes naturally.  The ones who have viewpoints we disagree with?  Now they are the ones who require an act of will.  Here is where the rubber hits the road on Love as an Intention. Honoring someone’s right to think as they do does not mean we have to agree with them.  It just means recognizing that if you were raised under the exact same conditions and encountered the exact same life experiences, you might think the way they do.  Their thoughts and feelings are valid.

I have to put in a little something about rights here. The dictionary defines rights as “a just claim or title, whether legal, prescriptive, or moral.” ( When I lived in the Yonkers Morehouse, I was taught that if something can be taken away from you, it is no longer a right. Do we really have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Someone can kill us, or kidnap us, so that invalidates the first two. The pursuit of happiness, is sovereign.  As Victor Frankel said, even a prisoner has free will. He can decide whether or not to enjoy his captivity. I believe we do have the right to think and feel as we do. Although outside powers may try to change our minds or invalidate our beliefs, only we can change them. This idea that we have rights often gets us into trouble in relationship, though.  When I start acting as if I have a right to someone else behaving a certain way, or taking actions, now I am in entitlement.  The truth is Love is a Gift, and Love is Response to Need. The other person can give it or not, that’s their free will.  What you do about it is yours.

Why is this so hard? 

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Can you hear me now? – Be a Better Lover – Skill 2

Listening-Quotes It’s amazing how much I am learning as I progress through this study of Love is an Intention: An Interview with Jerry Judd about the Principles and Skills of Loving (published by Friends of Shalom Mountain).  I keep finding ways that I can up my game as a Lover.  This next skill: Hearing: I listen to what you are saying, is subtly tricky.  The pain of not being heard by your Beloved is one of the greatest factors in couples breaking up. We think we are good listeners. But how often are you really listening, versus waiting for your chance to talk?  We are often so eager to contribute to the other person, that we jump in with solutions or sympathy, when all they really want is to be heard.  Don’t underestimate the power of a simple “I hear you.” The other thing to ponder is, am I really listening to what you are saying? Because we have a tendency to run what people say through our own personal filter, which weighs in with our beliefs about ourselves and our stereotypes of others, and then attributes meaning to what was just said.  I find it very effective to either reflect back to the other, “what I heard you just say is. . . is that right?’

Another question to ask yourself about your skill as a listener is: Am I listening to your whole Self with my whole Self? Am I listening to your body language?  Am I listening for the feelings behind the words and the needs beneath the words?

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The Be a Better Lover Series: Skill #1 – Seeing

Skills of lovingIf you are reading this post to learn some new position from the kama sutra, you are in the wrong place, at least today.  The Lover I’m talking about, now, is the heart opened, longing for deep intimacy lover. And the skills I am going to write about work with friends, co-workers, and family as well as they work with romantic partners.  In fact they are essential to all our relationships.

Snowflakes are gently falling here in Asheville as I write today’s post. I look around and see my cozy home, sensual artwork on the walls that inspires me, piles of fruit in bowls on the counter. I see clutter in my office, and my bulletin board filled with calendars, vision boards, inspirational quotes and a million dollar bill. I tell you all this, not just to set the scene physically, but to practice the first Skill of Loving; Seeing. For the last five days, I’ve been discussing commonly held love myths, and used the Principles of Loving (created by Jerry Jud of Shalom Mountain) to examine Love’s true nature. Now we get into the meat and potatoes of how to be a better Lover.  I promise you, these five skills that I’m going to go into over the next five days, can change your relationship and change your life.

Skill #1 is Seeing:  I do not look over you and through you.  I see you in your uniqueness. There is a very basic human need to feel safe. Some people need it more than others.  I need it a lot. I crave stability, and I equate order with serenity. In order to feel safe,we try to convince ourselves that we can predict the future.  We tell ourselves that we can control circumstances, and other people.  In order to feel like we know what is going on, when we meet someone, me immediately run them through our mental sorting program, and start labeling. Oh he’s a man, he’s this.  She’s a lawyer, she’s that.  And we have a whole encyclopedia of how men and women are, and how lawyers are, and how divorced people are and so on.  The trouble is, we are so busy seeing our ideas of who people are, we miss who they actually are.  We are trying to relate to the boxes we have put them in.

Have you ever been in a relationship where you found yourself screaming SEE ME!? 

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Dispelling the Love Myths – Day 5 – Thou shalt be independent

Hand einer Pflegerin und einer alten Seniorin This final principle of love, is usually the most controversial.  It states, “Love is a response to need.”  In this culture, we associate need with weakness and we don’t want to appear that way, because it will turn-off prospective partners. I used to be terribly independent.  I saw myself like one of those Valkyries in a Wagner opera, with the whole metal breastplate and the spear. I believed that God helps those who help themselves.  The process of changing began when I discovered a spiritual path that advocated reliance on a loving higher power.  I began to surrender a lot of my control, and trust that God would provide, and the universe somehow always did.  But I still didn’t quite trust people. In my final year of healing school, my armor finally dropped.  I was pregnant with Ariana.  I could no longer do everything I wanted, all the time.  Sometimes, I couldn’t even carry my own books to and from class.  And I started letting people help me.  I had a need that they could fill.  And as they did so, they reported that they found me more accessible.  I actually was more loveable in my vulnerability and my need!

I still don’t love being needy.  I also don’t like feeling sad, or confused, or limited.  But the truth is, I am. As one of my mentors reminds me, welcome to the human condition.  We are all of it, strong and broken, brilliant and stupefied.  So why is love a response to need?  Well, you can’t love someone who has no needs.  You can want to love them, but it will always be a one-way street.  It’s like making food for someone who has already eaten.  They don’t want to consume what you are offering, they are full.  A person who acts like they have no needs, has no way to let your love in. For love to be a two-way street, I have to need something from you, say respect,or affection.  When you give it, I receive the gift of your attention, and I give you the experience of yourself as giver.


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Dispelling the Love Myths #4 – Feeling love is enough

When opposites attract

When opposites attract

There are a million love songs. From Donna Summers I Feel Love to The Lion King’s Can you Feel the Love Tonight they all remind us that when love is present, it is palpable. So I’m  willing to agree that love is a feeling, the problem is, love felt, but not expressed, is not enough. I wrote on Day One that we need to figure out how we want to be loved.  If your partner loves you madly, but treats you badly, is that really love? This is where the fourthPrinciple of Loving comes in: Love is Good Will in Action. If you want to love someone more, do nice things for them, keeping in mind what they would like to receive from you.  If you want some one to love you more, allow them to do nice things for you.

A little counter intuitive, no?

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