Love is wonderful when it works. But we push love away so often because we are afraid it won’t work. Even with those we are supposed to love most.
The vulnerability required to realize true intimacy can be a major factor in why we don’t let go. But there’s something else that makes it even harder. It’s our dogma around the strings we attach to showing love.
For example, let’s say that two people that don’t know each other too well are talking, and one of them is feeling a profound love and desire inside for the other. To proclaim this desire, in most of our societies, would be much too “forward.” It would not communicate love to the other person… it would make them uncomfortable!
In my experience, I’ve found the following: men feel like they have to hide their love and desire so that they don’t come off as (1) weak or (2) possibly being a mindless horndog. Women feel they have to hide their love and desire so that they don’t come off as (1) too strong [and thus “unladylike”] or (2) too open or “easy”–too desperate.
This is really too bad. Because one of the greatest compliments you can give somebody is to show them that you have an intense desire for them, that you are interested in them, that you find them attractive. The key is to show this attraction openly without any strings attached.
There is a sacred middle ground–a place where you can go with someone in which the truth about your thoughts and feelings can be expressed, without any expectations. I love to go there very often. I love to interact with somebody and get at their inner core and feel their spirit fill me with warmth, and then look them in the eye and tell them that I care, meaning every word. It’s healing for both of us.
I’m able to do this because I am clear, both in words and in body language, that I am not expecting anything. I am standing in the sacred middle ground, and inviting the one I am connecting with to join me there. What you’ve been told about passionate love is not true here in this sacred middle ground: there is no iron wall dividing the passionate, primal, physical, sexual love from the platonic love of a friend. We don’t have to choose one or the other. We are in the middle, together, and we decide where we go from here. No musts about any of it.
I have had a number of friends with whom there is a shared attraction–a deep desire on both sides. Could it lead to us ripping off each other’s clothes in a passionate sexual fury? Sure! The thoughts are already in our heads. 🙂 However, so often what I’ve found is that, once we get to the sacred middle ground, we are able to admit and talk about all these feelings and desires and fantasies, and very often, after we get all the truth out there about what’s going on in our minds, we become satisfied on an even deeper level, something that never would have happened if we had gone straight for sexual ecstasy.
Now don’t get me wrong… sometimes the comfort and nurturing provided by the sacred middle ground does eventually lead to a sexual element, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But many times, it doesn’t go there. Or it goes there just a little bit. Many times I have felt that, given the other person’s state of mind, I would consciously decide against being sexual with them, because it would not be right–even as I do look them in the eyes and very clearly desire them. In cases like these, sex is not lovemaking; intimate, soothing interaction without any expectation of sex… this is real lovemaking. Paying attention and care to the other person and making them feel good is an all-around thing, and often those who easily have sex as a substitute for real lovemaking are crying out inside for someone who would care more than that–someone with whom they could travel to the comfort of the sacred middle ground.
The major point is this: love can be wonderful, but terrifying at the same time when we feel out of control. Sharing love in the sacred middle ground helps to conserve that control; it helps give us the choice that we so often feel we don’t have when we are in love. By doing away with the conventional either-or viewpoint and creating a sacred middle ground, we can truly immerse ourselves in these experiences of passionate, full, unconditional love without the accompanying drama and uncertainty. Of course, there is no guarantee that an intense desire won’t be very strong… but it’s so much easier to deal with and get the most out of when you have created a space of no-strings-attached love and intimate sharing with someone. Now you don’t have to keep this desire bottled up inside anymore. Now you can let it go, admit it, and feel its beauty–and nothing else has to happen.
The sacred middle ground is very important because of this stabilizing function. Often, when we badly desire love, we make some pretty hasty, bad decisions… you know how it is, don’tcha? Yes you do!! Sometimes we get quick and hasty out of fear–fear of being abandoned, fear of being rejected, fear of having wasted our time or being hurt. But the hastiness will not build a solid foundation for fulfilling interaction–in fact, it’s likely to set you up for disappointment, because it feels so good to rush into mutual passion at first, but inevitably the dropoff comes afterward.
There may be times when you just want to get laid. Fine–don’t expect too much. Don’t expect that it will turn into anything else. Don’t expect that you and the other person will have the same idea about what “getting laid” means. Don’t assume it will be satisfying–it may be, but often it’s not. And if you stop and think about it [and even better, have someone to talk to about it], you might turn over some rocks in your soul and realize all the other kinds of desires you have. Desires for intimacy, for connection, for being able to be yourself and share yourself, and providing that experience for someone else.
Once you see that the awful wall we put between casual interaction and sharing desire and intimacy does not have to exist, you can relax and take it slower. Create the sacred middle ground between the casual and the passionate; tell each other that you are interested, and be open about your feelings, while being clear that nothing has to happen. Just listen to each other – and listen to yourselves, too. Notice your feelings for each other. Talk about them. And, very importantly, remember that they can change. Taking things slow and hanging out in the sacred middle ground allows you the space to see all this happening and take stock of it, staying in control all the while.
And if the other person doesn’t want to slow down and relax in the sacred middle with you, well… they ain’t ready. Move on.
The myth of the “friend zone”
A big pet peeve of mine is when people put friendships and romantic relationships at odds, as if it’s either one or the other. If you have no middle ground, of course it’s always going to look like this. But ask a couple that has been together for a long time and is still happy, and they’ll tell you, the friendship is what makes all the rest of it possible. In fact, often that is exactly what we want in a serious romantic relationship–somebody who can become our friend as well. But we have it backwards, you see: why would you get intimate with someone, hope for a relationship out of it, and then become friends with them? This can happen, but really, it rarely does, especially when the people involved don’t slow it down at some point and spend some time in the sacred middle ground.
When you take away this huge wall between “friend” and “lover,” you open yourself to take real, valuable time on the friendship part. Moreover, when you and the other person really spend some quality time in the sacred middle ground, you can often break free of the whole “we’re friends, we don’t do that” / “I want to be his/her lover, not friend” kind of thinking. You can develop trust and communicate, and do what feels right for both of you, not only feeling the breadth of your desire, but also the power of letting go.
Nobody is saying you must be physically intimate with your friends (I am not with most of mine)… but think about it, haven’t there been times when we wished we could have something more with a friend? When you thought to yourself, “wouldn’t it be nice if we could just let go a bit, without feeling like we are ruining something?” At least to be able to talk about it and be listened to. The “huge wall between friendship and love” mentality thinks I am talking about SEX here (lol)… but it’s so much more than that. It’s the sacred middle ground, where you get away from what you are told you should want and become able to explore what you really do want, which almost always goes beyond a simple episode of physical passion, even when that physical passion is welcome.
The overarching theme of this post is the following: don’t shut out good opportunities to feel and share intimacy–they are far more numerous than we are ever taught they are. If you remain open, you won’t ever be inconsolably lonely. People will know you are somebody who is able to feel “sacred middle” kinds of intimacy, and they will remember that. They will come to you for this understanding, for they will know that you don’t attach strings to intimate interaction; you will be unconditional with your intimacy, which brings very positive energy. And, best of all, it will become easier for you to ask for intimacy when you need it, and those around you will be more likely to respond. At least that’s what I’ve found. 🙂