On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Amy arrived ten minutes before her partner, Barbara, for their couple’s session. While waiting for Barbara, Amy tells me “I don’t think I love her anymore.” She explains, “there’s no spark, no excitement left.” Then come the familiar words I’ve heard a hundred times before…”She feels more like a friend than a lover.”
And the band begins to play… You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips. And there’s no tenderness Like before in your fingertips. You’re trying hard not to show it, (baby). But baby, baby I know it…You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling, whooah that lovin’ feeling
Okay, back to reality. Have I ever mentioned that love is a VERB? Though it is much easier to view love as this thing that we either have or don’t have, it’s actually an experience that we either create, or we don’t. Love is the result of an action. Hence the term, “Making Love!”
The degree to which we feel love is determined by the degree to which we behave in loving ways. Love is actually much more than just a feeling. Love is the outcome of actually doing something loving. In order to express love, we must first possess love. We’ve all heard the old saying, “You must love yourself before you can love another.” This makes sense if you consider that in order to give anything, we must have it to give.
When we lose that lovin’ feeling, chances are we’ve lost sight of our own lovin’ behavior! I asked Amy, “When is the last time you have behaved toward Barbara like a lover and not just a friend? The last time you interacted with her in a loving, passionate way?” “Hmmmm,” she replied, “But I don’t FEEL loving, so how am I supposed to BE loving?” Then Amy asks, “Isn’t that like lying — to show love when I don’t feel loving?” To this, I say, “Amy If you possess the desire to love Barbara — to continue being in love with her, but you have lost that ‘lovin’ feeling’ that you used to have then it is not a lie for you to behave in accordance with your wants.” I continue, “Is it a lie to work out if you don’t FEEL like exercising?” Quickly she replies, “If I waited until I wanted to workout I might never work out!”
With a heavy sigh, she says, “Okay, I get where you’re going with this, I don’t have to feel loving to be loving, I just have to want to be loving and know that being loving is the right thing to do if I want our relationship to work.” I say, “That’s exactly right.” And I added, “If you behave in loving ways, regardless of how you feel, you will likely begin to feel more loving. The best way to get what we want, be that kindness, love, passion, excitement… is to give it.”
Think about all of the things you do throughout the day that you do because they need to be done in order for you to get what you want. The simple things like brushing our teeth so they won’t fall out, putting gas in our cars so we can get from point “a” to point “b,” doing laundry so we have clean clothes to wear. The list is endless. We do many things we don’t FEEL like doing because, in the end, we want the reward we’ll receive by doing so. To be sure I am clear, I explain to Amy, “If, on the other hand, you MAKE THE CHOICE to stop loving, or you have decided you don’t want to love Barbara anymore, that is a different story. That is a choice to NOT love.”
Loving someone is a choice. Who we find attractive is not — what happens with or without our consent! I think most of us have been attracted to someone at some point about whom in retrospect we wonder, “What was I thinking!?” What we do with our attractions is up to us. The attraction is not the issue — it’s how we respond to it. This is an important concept for folks who are tempted to have affairs. Developing an attraction is not the actual “problem” — it is the choices you make around that attraction, but that’s another newsletter!
Love does not take care of itself. We take care of love. If you have recently fallen in love, do not fool yourself into believing that it will continue to self-renew without your input and work. If you have recently fallen out of love, do not fool yourself into believing that you will find another love that will self- renew. When we take responsibility for the love that we feel (by creating it ourselves!) we can create endless amounts of love. Love truly is an endless resource that can be generated in the blink of an eye — literally. [wink]
When Barbara arrived she greeted Amy with a hug and apologized for being late. Barbara smiled at Amy with a hopeful look, and as we walked back to my office I heard Amy whisper to Barbara, “You look beautiful today.” Genuinely surprised, (as was I!) Barbara responded simply with, “I love you.” Though this is just the beginning, I smiled a quiet smile. For at that moment, Love was in the Air — and when we string enough of those moments together, we can get love back in our lives and in our hearts.
My parting thought is this: Love is not something that we have, it’s something that we are. Be love!
❤️ Michele O’Mara, LCSW, Ph.D. is an expert lesbian relationship coach (www.lesbiancouples.co) with a comfortable obsession with all things related to love and relationships between women. She is particularly fascinated by lesbian couples in blended families, issues of infidelity, lesbian sexuality, and recovery from lesbian breakups. She is the author of Just Ask: 1,000 Questions to Grow Your Relationship, which is available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon, as well as an app on Itunes /Google play. Lastly, she and her wife Kristen host Lesbian Couples Retreats in various destinations and you can learn more about those here.