This changes EVERYTHING.
By Sean Swaby
I am a crappy lover. Not just the sex thing, although I can certainly improve at that.
But being a lover is about much more than sex. It is about your loving-ness towards your partner (and towards life itself).
Love is a bit of a mystery, at least to me it is. You may have figured it out, but I find that love is a bit like stumbling through the dark with your flashlight in your pocket. You feel secure because you have a light, but you are lost and you have no idea where you are going.
I wrote in a recent journal,
To know love is to know something unknowable. It is to have an unquenchable fire burning deeply inside of you. It is both your boots and your path to walk on. Love is beyond what our senses can take in — yet we need it more than anything else.
Being a man means being a lover. It means being attentive to your partner and their needs. But being a lover is about how you love, and that is hard stuff. Love takes courage and it takes guts. After nearly 20 years of marriage, I am just beginning to learn about love. And what love is teaching me is that I need to love myself first.
Improving your love life is about loving yourself?
It is impossible to love another person more than you love yourself. You can fake it and pretend to care, but over time faking it wears on you.
Loving yourself is, well, difficult. In order to love yourself, you also have to admit that you have done some pretty embarrassing things. You may even think of yourself as awful, unlovable or worthless.
Being a better lover begins by taking stock of who you are and caring for yourself. It means letting go of unhealthy and unwise habits. It means learning to pay attention. And it means giving.
In English, how we talk about love shows how deeply we misunderstand what love is:
- Being “in” love — is love really like a doorway that you walk through and suddenly find yourself “in” love. Is it where you are either “in” love, or are “out” of love? Can there not be an in between, less intense experience of love?
- Falling in love — Love is like a cliff and you must fall off to get the full effect. Not a very optimistic way of looking at love. Just sayin’
- Head over heels in love — another version of falling in love… only this one is borderline S&M… love hurts and you will have bruises.
- Making love — as if love is first “unmade” and it is up to you to make it up as you go along. It would be more accurate to say, “Love is like a bed and you need to remake it every day”
- Love is like a battlefield — this may be closer to the truth than we like to admit. When most couples begin living together, they have to fight their way into love. It is a little like turf wars and mini-battles. But this is a war that matters, not a war of dominance, but a peaceful war.
- Your love life — as if sex is a separate part of your life. Loving life is about how you approach life, not just about the sex.
In the Greek language, “Love” is actually made up of six different words.
The Greeks had a much deeper understanding of love than we do today. The Greeks understood love as deeply nuanced. Being a lover included sex, but it also included many other aspects of what it means to be a fully-alive human being:
- Eros — erotic love and sexuality
- Philia — friendship love
- Ludus — caring playfulness
- Agape — loving other people
- Pragma — longstanding love
- Philautia — loving yourself
Being a lover is nuanced. It means that you take in all that life has for you and you strive to live more openly. It is about knowing yourself and your own brokenness and being at peace with it. I think this is why it has taken me so long to learn to be a better lover. Loving yourself deeply can take a long time.
Being a lover is more about how you approach your whole life than it is about how you approach your sex-life.
It is easy to write off your need for love, yet it is important to underline that you cannot be complete without love. Without love, you stay in a cage with walls made out of nothing but fear and memories.
Being a better lover is about loving your life. It is about opening up to all that life has for you. Understanding the six kinds of love can improve your lovelife and your love life. Abuse, trauma, addiction, pain, personality and your overall mindset can get in the way. Healing yourself is one of the best moves you can make to improve your love-making, and how you love life itself!
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.