We humans long to connect mind, heart, body and soul. Many of us seek a life-partner, someone who will help us be our whole selves the best we can and experience life to the fullest. No one can tell anyone whether or not their partner is “the one” that they can and should spend their lives with. But we’ve compiled a list of thirty questions to ask as you consider what you are looking for in a mate and — if you are already in a relationship — if you are likely to find it in your current partner.
#1. You love each other
OK, that’s obvious and kind of begs the question, but it is good to realize that deep within we know what love feels like — both getting it and giving it. And so the best way to know whether or not you’ve found true love is to pay attention to how you behave around the other person, as well as how they behave around you.
#2. You delight each other
Love is supposed to be fun! When you’ve found your forever-friend, you are happy just being near each other. Their smile lights up your day. Their laugh makes you realize that life is eternally beautiful. You feel giddy and eternally grateful that they will cuddle into you and want you close.
#3.You are free to be yourselves
If it is really love, you have each other’s backs and you both know it 100%. You don’t worry that they will judge you if you say something clunky or boring or weird or not-quite-thought-out. And you don’t judge them. Because, as we noted in #2, you are just happy to get to agree on and share this love burning merrily between you both. You won’t agree with everything each other does, but you’re working together to get the most out of life and that starts with the acceptance of oneself and others. You both recognize that you are on the same team and share the same fundamental values and goals. This makes for a fundamentally safe space. As a happy couple you alternate between caring for and delighting in each other as individuals and expanding into a double-self.
#4. Lovers see the Beloved’s true Self
Human beings are all unique and special. We all possess an inner radiance — let’s call it “Soullight” — that bounces through our individual hearts and minds, making us both who we are as individuals and one with everyone else (since everyone else is also most fundamentally Soullight). Lovers who have turned fully towards one another and completely given themselves over to their mutual affection, catch a glimpse of that — of their loved one’s spiritual essence.
#5. You believe in each other
This is related to #4. We humans, being founded upon Soullight, are eternally resilient. We can do anything we set our hearts and minds to. When we see ourselves and our partners for who we really are, we have faith in our individual abilities, as well as our shared ability to grow and succeed together.
#6. No lying
You don’t want to keep anything from your beloved, because that’s keeping a part of yourself from getting to meet them, and you want to meet all of them with all of you.
#7. No End to Introductions
Lovers do not get tired of one another, Human beings are infinitely deep, wide, and rich. There’s always more of your partner to know. Lovers don’t think, “I love them because I know them so well”; they think, “I want to know them better so I can love them better.”
#8. Not interested in other lovers
If you’ve found the one you and they agree that you are the one, then neither of you is checking out other people. Why would you jeopardize what you have? You wouldn’t. The thought of having to be with someone else is upsetting and terrifying. It’s like asking to be cut in half.
#9. Don’t care what anyone thinks
Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner sometimes embarrassed you? And/or where your partner sometimes acted like you were embarrassing them. This is not true love. If the love is real, you aren’t worried what other people think. You have found the most wonderful person in the world and you know it, and that is more than enough.
#10. Meeting your family and friends
Your friends and family are going to love the person you love! They are going to be happy for you and delight in your delight. And introducing your partner to the other people in your life is part of sharing yourself and your world with them.
#11. You discuss the future
Obviously. You desire a future with one another and you feel free to speak your mind around each other. How could you not talk about individual and shared future plans, hopes, dreams, fears, and solutions?
#12. You will make it work
What a relief to realize that you are both committed to finding the way together! You were afraid maybe somehow something was going to come between the two of you. You were afraid — back before you established that this love was real — that you might lose your love. But now you see that you both agree that this is love and this family and this is what you are going to do and that’s that. Thank God!
#13. No Conditions on this Love
How can this be? Didn’t you choose each other largely because of mutual attraction? Isn’t your love conditional upon that physical/mental/emotional attraction? Isn’t that attraction the force binding you together? And isn’t that attraction dependent on certain physical, mental and emotional characteristics? And don’t all human characteristics constantly change? And so isn’t it conceivable that the foundation for your love could disintegrate?
Oh gosh! That’s a lot to think about. And it is true that sometimes people will seem to be truly in love with one another and then after some time has passed they will seem to be truly out of love with each other (or, more painfully, one will remain in love long after the other has exited love).
Honestly, I don’t know what to make of all this. When you love someone you accept them without conditions. That’s the way to open up to them and to share souls. Obviously, people usually first decide (at some level) that this person can satisfy all their relationship needs and so it is safe to open oneself up fully and accept the other fully and so bind oneself to the other. But once the binding-together’s taken place, how can it be undone? If you fully accept someone, don’t you lose your ability to judge whether or not you should fully accept that person?
#14. You work every day to grow the love
From our “A Buddhist Marriage Counselor Explains Pure Love to a Mopey Young Man” [available in A Readable Reader or First Essays (!Buy the Books!) or Pure Love User’s Manual (for free! if you sign up up for our mailing list on the front page of this site)]:
“The love you feel for your mate calls you to try with all you have to be true to himorher and treat himorher right in all the ways s/he needs to be treated right and so — barring disasters — you should stay together, growing in understanding and love as the years go by. But in the end, you are bound not to specific people but to all sentient beings and to that which is common to all. Neither sleeping around to actualize yourself nor clinging to some person to feel safe is quite right. We are sexual beings but most fundamentally we are spiritual beings and so we need to be careful with ourselves and others especially in things as deep-seated as sexuality.”
Human loves are never perfect. No matter how sincere and deep the bond, no romance is eternal. We’re not supposed to be with one person forever but with everyone. But if you two people fit romantically and fall in love, the love beckons them on and on: loving couples are driven to grow and work on the love; that self-perpetuating momentum, along with the initial connection and commitment gives true lovers a good chance of staying together for life.
True love is unconditional, but there’s no guarantees in life. If your partner goes crazy and becomes abusive and scary, you may still love them, but the romance will probably become impossible. (I guess this #14 is pretty much the same as #7. But #13 gave us all kinds of problems, and this #14 is the resolution we can think of).
#15. Good Sex
Real love satisfies basic human needs for sexual, physical, emotional, and mental companionship. We’re talking about romantic love here! Romantic love is the love you feel for your sexual partner. Never having sex is lonely, but so is having sex outside of a loving relationship.
#16. Not in a hurry
Love has all the time in the world. Love is glad for every moment with the beloved and is interested in growing the relationship at a sustainable, healthy pace. Love grows when the lovers turn more and more towards each other. Love falls apart when the lovers stop turning towards each other. In the initial stages, quite often one person gets skittish and turns away and that’s the end of it. As time goes on, the fall-apart is usually more mutual: one person feels a little unhappy and turns a little away, and then the other follows suit, and on and on until the story’s over. But if the bond is deep and the fit is right and the hearts are willing, the lovers keep working together to more and more find each other, to more and more fully face one another. That journey is precious and real lovers recognize are not willing to sacrifice the process by rushing the relationship.
#17 Benefit of the Doubt
This is a part of the formula for success turning-towards one another: Real love gives the benefit of the doubt. It assumes the good-will and faith of the lover. This is part of trust.
#18. No Anger, No Discontent
True love is happy to get to be with the loved one. It can’t stand to waste time fighting, bickering, or backbiting.
#19. Chicken or Egg?
As I write these, I notice that often it is hard to say which comes first: the love or the healthy relationship move (like, for example, giving the other the benefit of the doubt). I think the answer is that successful romantic love is an ongoing process of both treating each other well and being rewarded by that good behavior by a deeper and more meaningful connection. For true love you need both physical/emotional/intellectual chemistry and a shared will to grow the love. With those ingredients, you have a pretty good chance at finding a romance that does you more good than harm, that allows you to enter into and expand the magic of whole-being friendship.
#20 “How Can I Give Her What She Needs?!”
If you are in love her, then you want her to choose you as her mate, and if you truly love her, then you want what is best for her. By the force of logic, you are therefore compelled to want to be the best possible mate for her. But how can you achieve this goal? What’s so special about you? How can you give her everything she needs in a partner? Or is it impossible? Maybe it is a greedy sneaky trick for you to try to get her to waste her time on you. How to tell? What is going on?
#21 She’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen?
What do you mean?
I mean I’ve never met anyone so cute, does that mean I truly love her?
Hmm. While finding your mate to be the perfect fit, most attractive option and most desirable partner is consonant with true love, obsessing about how compelling someone is and how you could never be satisfied with anyone but this beacon of perfection who in your mind corresponds 100% to your longings and is therefore a superhuman match — all that is pretty common when you just covet someone. Maybe you’re just infatuated / obsessed / desperate for her? Maybe your lusting body has overwhelmed your mind and heart? Perhaps you just really want to get to have her?
What about this: Maybe romantic love is agreeing to truly love someone in exchange for exclusive sexual and cuddling right. Lovers make this contract: I will open up to you and let you in to my heart and mind so that I care for you with everything I am, in exchange for you doing the same for me, and also we body-bond with regular exclusive mutually-enlightening sexual encounters, and also the cuddles and affections that go along with sexual partners we give only to each other. What do you think? Is that romantic love? And then the romantic love becomes true love when the partners reach some basic point of selfless love towards the other person, which compels them to every day work more and more to love that person better and better, which — if both are on board — makes the bond stronger and stronger and the safe-space and support larger and larger, and shared joy greater and greater? Is that the trajectory of romantic love from initial somewhat-selfish contract to essentially-unselfish blossoming?
Why do you think she’s so cute?
She’s just so cute! And don’t you think that gushing over her cuteness as opposed to gushing over her hotness shows that I’m not just coveting her body, but am also completely charmed by her whole being? Part of cuteness is personality, style, values, and vibe. Does not “this is cutest girl I have ever seen” implicitly contain “being around her I realize who I want to be, where I want to fit in, what I want to be able to say and who I want to hear it”? Isn’t that more than just infatuation over physical beauty?
#22 You Love Everyone
This follows from #4: Lovers see their beloved’s true self. The true self of all sentience is most fundamentally Pure Love / aka: the Light / aka: God / aka: the Buddha Nature. To the degree you and your lover open yourselves up to each other, you both perceive (and of necessity automatically cherish and delight in) the One Light shining through everything — including each conscious moment. You perceive Pure Love shining out through your core and also radiating through and illuminating your lover’s conscious space.
Pure Love alone Knows what is really going on; insofar as you perceive Pure Love, you perceive what is really going on: you see that and in what sense it is True to say we are all in this together.
Lovers are looking for companionship, but in their relentless quest to meet all of their lover with all of themselves, they stumble into wisdom: the core of everything is Pure Love; to the degree you get to the core of anyone, you get to the core of everything — you reach the Pure Love that Knows what is really going on.
Therefore you can test your love for your partner by testing your love for everyone: do you feel gentle towards everyone? do you want only the best for everyone? do you care for everyone? do you refuse to harm anyone?
Or think of the great athlete who is always finding a way to win, but with the further realization that winning is finding what is best for everyone — the path that embraces, heals, uplifts and enlightens every conscious space.
True Love is not selfish. It protects the lover and respects your special relationship and the rights and responsibilities therein. But real love is wise enough to know that at the deepest level, we are all lovers.
#23 Friendship, Equality, Trust
We’re all just people here. None of us are innately or permanently superior at the essential work of a human being: Living fully in and through and for the Light. When we die, all our great achievements and big ideas turn to dust just as surely as do our bodies/hearts/minds. All that remains is the essential fire that burns forever within and as part of the one Light.
No one knows what happens when we die. If we are born again in this world or if we live as heavenly spirits and once again meet our old friends and loves. Or if we dissolve into the Light and all we did in this life becomes only another memory within the mind of God. Of course, God’s mind is ultimately outside timespace and “memory” is not really the right word to describe an infinite simultaneous sweep of infinite timespaces and their infinite collections of mental, emotional, and physical motions. Do we when we die remain in some sense connected to this earthly life by retaining some experiential cohesiveness within the infinite conscious space of Godthought?
Speculations are pleasant if you can find a comfy enough armchair in an agreeable climate, but here’s what we know: We’re all in this together; none of us has all the answers; we need to work together to grow in wisdom.
A healthy romance is one built on teamwork. It is a cozy microcosm of a generally healthy interface with others: We are in this together; we must all work to improve our ability to live in and through and for Pure Love; the way forward is not following ourselves or other people — the way forward is together following Kind Resolve / Joyful Empathy / Godlight. A healthy love is one where both partners accept this fundamental human reality and work together to put this insight into practice in their lives together and in the wider world.
Romantic love is a safe space to practice being your fullest self: a child of the Light in relationship with other children of the Light, here to grow our shared experience of the Light — to glow.
#24 Romantic Love is Not a Vainglory
This one is a long time in the making. It gets it’s own page: Romantic Love is Not a Vainglory / Not Shallow
#25 You Admit Who You Are & What You Need
At some point the jig is up.
At some point you are ready to say,
I’m just a person; I need physical, emotional, and mental love.
I’m just a person; I need you near and I know it.
Please sit next to me and tell me about your day.
All my ideas and ambitions have their place and are fine in their way.
But all I really want is to sit next to you and hear about your day.
I guess we’re still working on this article.
Author: Acorn del Dauphin
Editors: Bartleby Willard Amble Whistletown
Copyright: AM Watson
Authority: Thinking With You Not At You
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[This is a work of Something Deeperism]