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When We Fall In Love, This Is What Actually Happens

What happens when we fall in love?

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Loving someone is probably the easiest and most difficult thing to do, at the same time, which is why so many relationships do not sustain.

“Lovers are those for whom no minute is like any other, people between whom nothing habitual takes place, just what is new, unprecedented, unexpected. In such connections there exists almost unbearable happiness. When we understand our lives correctly, we can slowly grow into such happiness by preparing ourselves for it. When we love, we must not forget that we are beginners, bunglers of life, apprentices in love. We must learn love and that takes calm, patience, and composure.”

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote these words nearly 100 years ago and they are as true today. They represent the most eloquent expressions of the essence of what is unquestionably one of the most difficult to describe experiences known to humanity.

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Rilke reminds us that “we must learn love.” This may sound strange coming from a poet known for his mystical writings. And yet for those of us who have traversed the territory to which he refers, his words serve as striking reminders of the inner qualities required of those of us who have committed ourselves to this path of the heart.

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” — Lucille Ball

It is a great mystery that a process as natural and universal as loving should be as difficult as it so frequently can be. In fact, it seems that more often than not, the art of learning to love well is one of the most demanding challenges we take on in our lives.

Many people, having made a number of painful or unsuccessful attempts to develop sustained, loving relationships, conclude that they’re just not “up for” what it takes, or that perhaps they’re just not the type to settle down with one person. They choose instead to forego their dream rather than risk the prospect of continued pain, frustration, and disappointment.

Why is it that loving relationships can be so difficult for us to create and sustain? Is it true that there really are very few good candidates out there who are willing and able to relate honestly and authentically? Is it possible for us to unlearn defensive patterns that may have served us in childhood but now cause us to feel frustration and isolation?

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These and many other questions inevitably arise once we make the decision to embark upon the path of love. The further along we find ourselves, the more formidable are the concerns that we encounter. Many people believe that the opposite should be true; that is, that the deeper the connection we develop with someone, the easier it should be and that if it’s not getting easier it’s because something is wrong—wrong with them, wrong with me, or wrong with us.

Not necessarily.

Deep relatedness can bring out the worst as well as the best in us—our deepest fears and our greatest hopes, our selflessness as well as our possessiveness, our kindness and our insensitivity, our generosity and our self-centeredness.

In working consciously with these emotions and impulses, we find ourselves feeling more trusting and open with each other and gradually begin to let down the defenses that shield and protect us from emotional distress.

Great love, great sex, and great intimacy are the hallmarks of great relationships. As the pursuit of happiness, great relationships don’t happen by seeking them directly; rather, they are a byproduct of living life in a way that creates the conditions that will support the fulfillment of our intention.

Getting clear about the kind of relationship that we want and the kind of person that we want to share it with are undoubtedly important steps in the realization of our dreams. But the most important aspect of creating an optimal relationship has less to do with finding the person of our dreams than with being the person of our dreams. It’s about who we become in the process.

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Linda and Charlie Bloomhttp://bloomwork.com/
Linda Bloom, LCSW and Charlie Bloom, MSW have been trained as psychotherapists and relationship counselors and have worked with individuals, couples, groups, and organizations since 1975. They have lectured and taught at universities and learning institutes throughout the USA, including the Esalen Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, 1440 Multiversity, and many others.  They have taught seminars in many countries throughout the world. They have co-authored four books, 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last, Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth From Real Couples About Lasting Love, Happily Ever After And 39 Other Myths About Love, and That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They have been married since 1972 and are the parents of two adult children and three grandsons. Linda and Charlie live in Santa Cruz, California. Their website is www.bloomwork.com
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