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by David Truman

What is the difference between enduring love and enduring emotional starvation?
Obviously, enduring love is more than just enduring. Enduring closeness may be wonderful, but enduring relationship WITHOUT closeness is a life sentence in solitary confinement. Bonds of heart-satisfying closeness can exist within relationships of all kinds, but they do not happen automatically. They are caused by the quality of the commitment the two people make to each other. What type of commitment is needed to keep a lasting relationship satisfactory to the heart?
Many lifelong spouses and long term friends share a strong mutual commitment with each other: Perhaps they have been through thick and thin and, having survived all kinds of changes, are still together. What holds them together? Some lasting relationships persist mainly due to insecurity, fatalism, or negative dependence. Happily, many others endure because of higher qualities such as forbearance, loyalty, and self-transcendence. Even if the road is rocky at times, these spiritual virtues provide a good foundation for a truly positive love life.
Love communion is the essential soul food provided by every great intimacy.
In practical terms, many kinds of commitment may hold people TOGETHER -- but it takes a higher glue to keep the hearts CLOSE. This higher glue is a kind of commitment many people tend to under-emphasize: the commitment to the PROCESS of true intimacy; to the process of relating in Reality, the process of soul communion. When this commitment is lived as a matter of strong intention, it can save a starving relationship from the shallows, and make a GOOD relationship even BETTER.
The relationship bubble
When two people truly relate to each other, their relationship becomes more than the sum of its parts. There is a subtle but tangible energy sphere that arises BETWEEN them. We will call that sphere the RELATIONSHIP BUBBLE. It's a sphere of consciousness or energy which is created between people who are willingly connected in relationship and actively involved in relating (as opposed to hiding, running away, or just being blasé and uninvolved).
Two people inside a relationship bubble.
Love communion is the result of sincere desire to connect at the level of the heart.
Every relationship is essentially composed of energy, specifically the TOWARDS energy that results from two people's interactive INTENTION. That intention is nothing but a strong will to be personally involved and connected at the heart. The connection they share is a dynamic result of their will moment to moment -- not just their initial and fundamental will to be connected in the first place, but also their ongoing, continuing will to maintain connection.
Keeping the love bubble pumped up
As so many couples who have been divorced, or good friends who have drifted apart have discovered, a relationship is not a perpetual motion machine. Let's face it: the bubble in which love communion occurs does not sustain itself without energy input. Rather, like any living thing, it requires the input of ongoing energy to remain strong -- or even, perhaps, to EXIST.
The relationship bubble resembles those special air-inflated tents you often see at county fairs, usually with an air-filled floor that little children can bounce on. These structures are inflated by a blower that continually pumps air into the structure to hold it up. Turn off the fan, and the building will collapse.
In the same way, a relationship bubble is maintained by a continuous input of intentional energy. If there is a large reduction or ongoing failure of the will that dispatches that nurturing energy, we suffer a weakening or breakdown of intimacy. Unsupported by will, the relationship bubble collapses, along with the feeling of relatedness. The relationship itself may even end altogether. (Sometimes that "worst-case" scenario is for the best. In many cases, a relationship that does not feed its partners SHOULD dissolve).
Why we let the love bubble deflate
There are several reasons why we let our relationship bubble deflate:
1. Misunderstanding the requirements of intimacy

2. Belief that love should not require effort

3. Inability to be constant due to phasing

4. Allowing moods and emotions to affect our commitments

5. Fear of communion in the bubble

1. Misunderstanding the requirements of intimacy. The security of relationships is rarely considered in terms of energy or constancy of intention. More often, it is considered in terms of circumstance, mood, or decision. The failure to create (or maintain) the bubble of intimacy is usually explained as follows:
a. Withdrawal. People simply change their minds about being together and willfully pull away from relating.
b. Loss of interest. People progressively fall out of relationship -- they forget to come home, they neglect to call, they have no desire to engage one another even though they may live under the same roof. This is the kind of problem people don't tend to even talk about, but if they ever did, they might describe it as a lack of interest or motivation.
It is easy to see that in both of these cases, people have turned off the energy pump that fills the love bubble of their intimacy. Then, when the bubble deflates, the RELATIONSHIP deflates.
2. Belief that love should not require effort. Hey -- Who said a relationship does (or should) require continual energy input to thrive? "Love should not take effort," people cry! REALLY?
This false belief is an understandable but unfortunate misinterpretation of our heart's true knowingness that LOVE SHOULD NOT FEEL LIKE AN EFFORT. Love REQUIRES effort and energy, but it is right to say that love should not FEEL like an effort. Generally, when we commit truly to relating, it doesn't; we are simply WILLING to invest whatever energy it takes. Love feels far more "effortful" when we have not truly committed, and are therefore working against ourselves.
3. Inability to be constant due to "phasing." Functional intimacy requires a steady commitment not only to the other person, but also to the process of intimacy itself. Steady commitment allows individuals to maintain their basic connection -- and keep their bubble of love pumped up MOST of the time. Only if we can enjoy a basic connection most of the time can we enjoy heart-security in intimacy or friendship.
No one's perfect, but that doesn't make a silk purse out of blowing hot and cold.
Unfortunately, constancy is an aspect of commitment many people have rarely if ever STABILIZED in themselves. Periods of close relationship come and go with phases of desire and goodwill that are more or less transitory and circumstantial. And therefore, nurturance goes through cycles of feast or famine, often with far too much famine.No one's perfect, and every relationship has its highs and lows. Even so, it is hard on love when intimates "phase" (meaning, they move in and out of sympathy with each other and stop relating, or relate minimally and reluctantly for extended periods of time). Too much phasing erodes security of the relationship, calls the commitment into question, and hurts the health of the living organism we call relationship. And yet, such cyclic severance is almost the norm in relationships today.
A mature and secure commitment to relationship must include the commitment, for the sake of the relationship, NOT to indulge in excessive phasing.
Impossible? Not at all! People will do for love what they would not -- and seemingly could not -- otherwise do. INCLUDING controlling their unruly minds. For example, all but the very worst and most dysfunctional of parents know very well that they must more or less continuously feed their children with energy and attention. They know that it will deeply disturb their children if they phase much in relation to them. This is just basic heart-wisdom applied to the particular relationship we call the parent-child relationship. Does the peer relationship deserve LESS care?
The parent-child relationship is by no means the only relationship that requires relative constancy and stability of involvement to be healthy and sound. Constancy is essential to all forms of human association. ALL people are always in their formative years, and need to be treated with care. ALL relationships require constancy. ALL relationships operate under the same requirements, requirements that are rooted in the real needs of every human heart.
4. Allowing moods and emotions to dictate our commitments. Some would say that people's emotional roller coaster happens WITHIN a commitment, which may well be true. Others acknowledge that the emotional roller coaster causes FLUCTUATIONS of commitment. Most people would agree that commitment and moodiness make uncomfortable bedfellows. Therefore, we need to do whatever we can do to maximize our (real) highs and to minimize our lows.
But in order to do that, we need to take control at levels where we often feel out of control. Many of us think we do not have a grip on how we feel, so we give in to phasing without a fight. But phasing means, fundamentally, that the commitment to loving and caring has been SUBORDINATED to MOODS and EMOTIONS.
What do moods and emotions have to do with commitment? Historically, many people associate moods, emotions, and commitment in a way that is quite misleading. They sit around waiting to feel certain feelings, believing that only then could they be truly committed. But clearly, any commitment that is overly dependent upon moods is neither mature nor viable. Feelings change like crazy, right? If we were to make a commitment on account of certain feelings, then, in all likelihood, we would break that commitment just as easily, due to NEW feelings -- and bye-bye, love! We enjoy security in love and become competent lovers, only when commitment does not depend upon mood, but rather, exerts effective discipline OVER mood. Therefore, remember:
Where does true commitment come from? YOU!
Solid commitment can ONLY come from a place in yourself that stands INDEPENDENT of transitory feelings. Commitment is caused by YOU, it is your decision.
Do not be intimidated by passing moods. Though moods may "just happen," you can DECIDE to shake them off and be constructive anyway. The ups and downs that plague many people persist primarily because negative thoughts are ENTERTAINED, bad moods are INDULGED. So . . .
Instead of this: The emotional roller coaster causes fluctuations of commitment to constancy in caring.
Consider this: Not being sufficiently committed to constancy in caring may be the real cause of the emotional roller coaster that seems to cause us to waver in our commitment.
Dispel the belief that good feelings are the cause of commitment, or a prerequisite for commitment. Instead, commitment must be understood to be the CAUSE of good feelings. Commitment makes you feel good, but, feeling good -- or feeling anything, for that matter -- should not be viewed as the cause of, or the prerequisite for, commitment.
5. Fear of communion in the bubble. Sometimes, feeling uncomfortable with ourselves or with one another, we tend to avoid the experience of resonance in the bubble. We hide because we are afraid that we will find difference, conflict, and adversity in awakened intimacy -- even within our so-called committed relationships.
We have nothing to fear so much as fear itself. We shouldn't hide from the "threat" of communion like a fearful child who says there's a bogeyman in the closet, so he won't go there. His mother suggests, "If you go into the closet, you can see for yourself that there's no bogeyman in there." But the boy argues, "Sure, but what if there IS a bogeyman in there? Then he'll get me. So I had better not go in the closet!" In the same way, in our fearfulness we believe, "There's a bogeyman in the Beloved, there's a bogeyman in others, and there's a bogeyman in LOVING." And like the young child, we may refuse to engage in love-communion to prove otherwise.
The biggest threat to committed loving is the commitment to fear. Fear causes us to avoid the experiences by which closeness can be created and maintained. And yet, without a doubt, commitment without closeness is dead. Of course, closeness without commitment is a contradiction in terms -- it is ultimately insecure. Knowing that, eat your emotional vitamins! COMMIT to creating and maintaining closeness!
The real commitment is to relate beyond phasing
How do we insure love-communion as a regular function in our lives? One, commit to connecting. Two -- and this is flip side of the coin -- avoid slipping into patterns of hiding.
Communion is the triumph of love over fear.
To enjoy a healthy relationship with anyone, we must renounce the indulgence of phasing, and find it in ourselves to be responsibly and reliably committed to the process of relating, to the process of intimacy, to the process of real sharing and sharing over time, in spite of fear.
You may be amazed to see how, if you make such a commitment, lots of other things will fall into place to support it. You will learn the art of mental discipline. You will refrain from indulging in excessive negativity and fear in relationship to your intimates, yourself, or anything else. Such discipline comes naturally once you decide to be committed to relationship. In this way, indirectly but surely, the commitment to relationship stabilizes your moods. Isn't that wonderful?
When we commit to loving in earnest, we WILL joyfully join our Beloveds in the bubble. We WILL enjoy and employ eye contact. We will commune happily in the bubble of love. We will recognize and celebrate all that is good and true, seeing and freeing the Divine essence within everyone. We will nurture and be nurtured. In that soul communion, we find the deep resonance of our being that can perfectly heal us, reinforce us, prepare us for the trials ahead, and lift us to the places that God would have us be. And that, ultimately, is what intimacy is for.

by David Truman

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A Secret of Fulfilling Intimacy:
Commitment to Loving Communion
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