Mutualism

By Susan Deitz

April 1, 2016 3 min read

Love, schmove! The word is generally overused and universally misunderstood. After temporary insanity (aka love) gives way to reality, as it should and must, far too many romantic relationships devolve into the humdrum. Partners become their parents' clones and do what they saw their parents do, not giving it much original thought. They don't think about their partner's needs or, for that matter, their own. Day after day, they live the motions of relationship, wide-awake but on cruise control, which gets them through the day (and night) numb to the possibilities of their own love. Saddest of all, they stop being careful with each other.

This has nothing to do with walking on eggshells around your beloved and everything to do with being best friends with yourself and each other. Mutual liking may seem like a runner-up to the real thing (friendship may not seem exotic or glamorous), but it's surprising how much good sex occurs between good friends. The way I see it, fuzzy pink lighting and fruity sparkling wine can only accomplish so much, in so short a time. (The glare of daylight on her/his morning face is the shock to end all shocks.) Reality is inevitable; ask anyone over 30 who has been there and isn't going back for any amount of money. Far better, friend, to start with reality — real feelings, real friendship, real respect for oneself and each other. (Sounds oh so corny, but only to the uninitiated.) The way to keep a love relationship dynamic is to welcome into it a wide array of interesting people with their individual worldviews, asking only that opinions be heard with respect and dignity. The respect and affection found in your core relationship allows partners to welcome into their nest interesting people of goodwill.

That kind of relationship is pulsating, breathing life into itself by encouraging partners to move beyond their core relationship in pursuit of their own interests, meeting different people and hearing new ideas along the way. Trusted, they feel free to welcome new people and bring the newness to their beloved partner, who is augmented by that — and who is also encouraged to follow her/his interests and share them. The easy flow of different people (and their worldviews) keeps the central relationship pulsating, dynamism that inevitably strengthens lovers' regard for each other. It also takes thought and much effort, an effort made more tolerable by the fact that it is for a good cause — their shared love. It's easy to love someone you like.

Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at [email protected]

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