Love is dedication - not an emotion
We cannot steer nor control whom we fall in love with. Mostly, love enters or hits us with surprise. Nor have we a say in whether our love is responded to or not. Yet, when in a relationship, we do have choices: to follow our love, express it, feed and cherish it - or not. Falling in love is quite another chapter than staying in love.
How does love express itself? How do we notice love in our lives? Love, as we have seen, in its core is a longing - and this zest for connection translates into full attention for our partner. Attention is the key to love’s magic circle. Love generates attention and attention fuels love. Giving and receiving attention establishes intense connection - and connection is what love yearns for and feeds on.
The ups and downs of love relationships show the relevance of attention.
That love is made up of attention is good news. You cannot control your emotions, but you definitely are in charge of your attention. It is by its intensity that you are able to fuel or starve your love. Staying in love is a matter of choice, focus and awareness. Love is expressed in dedication.
This dedication, however, is not based on willpower; it arises naturally out of a longing. It is not a matter of narrowing down your sight field, but of a paradoxical devotion: it is focused and all-inclusive, committed and free at the same time. Faithfulness does not require effort and renunciation, it is the result of staying connected to the basic longing.
But what to do if you really do not feel like dedicating yourself to your partner? The answer is simple: feel and share it - or leave. Do not breed on it or act it out.
The crucial point is not the quantity of attention, it is its quality. Short moments of full attention can work wonder, hours of distracted and flat attention will subtly elicit grief, anger or withdrawal. This leads to the question what loving attention is like. We know already: It is not a sweet emotional state. Loving attention is hungry to take in both sweet and bitter, to feel it all and connect to it - like a child wants to taste all in order to connect to the world.
Love is heading for truth; it does not exclude anything, but embraces it all: the reality of your partner as well as everything that moves inside yourself. Nor does it settle into notions and ideas of who your partner is or what love should be like. Love does not avoid, love does not label, love explores as it divines the infinity of your partner and the relationship. Loving attention is living in a rejuvenating question.
Love is not a definite emotion, it is being in motion. When we embark on this adventure, let us stay fully present and enjoy it when we embrace life as it is, in our parter and in ourselves - till we feel that love and life are synonyms.