(I have altered the following text from its original state. It was a letter to a friend who was fearing for her relationship. I thought the message was worthy enough to be shared in this context.)
Love is a living animal. It breathes in and out. It experiences change and disappointment and renewal and deepening and more change and more disappointment and more renewal, etc. This goes on forever. You have to take care of this animal. Nourish it, water it, and give it space to roam around in. Hear me, I’m not saying give the other person space. I’m saying give your love for them some space. Give your own capacity for love some space to grow. Stop with the defining. Enough already with the trying to figure everything out, trying to determine whether something is real enough, or whether it fits some external definition enough to qualify as “love.” The minute you get all narrow and needy, you squeeze all the air out of your own loving and it has no oxygen to work with, so it hyperventilates and all hell breaks loose. Sit for a while with what it might look like to nourish your own capacity for love. What does that mean to you?
Another thing. When you look at your beloved, and you wonder if they really love you, look in the mirror instead. Just look, without judging. Do you love you? (Look for a whole minute if you can. Feel how you feel about yourself.) If you don’t really love you, then no amount of your beloved will fix that, no amount of them will be enough, and you will manage to successfully Need them right out of your life. You will blame it on their kids or your age or their family or money troubles or your own neediness or whatever, and you will suffer, and it will take you God knows how long to get over them, and whenever that does take place, you’ll start the exact same pattern with someone else.
You can break this habit right now, but it will take the very hard work of shifting your focus from them back to yourself. You will really have to start loving yourself. Unless you already do, which would be cool, ‘cause it saves us some time here. If you don’t, then gently, like the best friend you ever had, open your eyes and look at whatever it is you don’t love and do something about it. Actively work on this. For my money this is the sexiest thing a person can do. Period.
In the end, you’re gonna do what you’re gonna do. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do. It’ll go how it goes. Love doesn’t always look the way we want it to, so we get worried and selfish and we try hard to manipulate it, dress it up, hide stuff from it; and in the process, we starve it of the very nourishment and oxygen it so desperately needs. It’s a living, breathing animal and all it wants to do is live in you. Take good care of it. Let it be what it is. Honor every shape it takes in your life, and it will be with you forever.