I have truly only loved two men in my life. One when I was fourteen years old (innocent love) and the other my husband, who passed away in 2008 (mature and supportive love). In between those two relationships, I dated many men but I either was not really interested in them or they were relationships of obsession.
Let me write first about my two genuine loves. I met Tau (I'm from Brazil so forgive me for the peculiar name) when I was thirteen. We stayed together until I was eighteen. In those years we traveled and learned about being in a relationship through loving each other. It was an absolutely trusting, and innocent relationship; as neither one of us had much history. We were discovering life together. Everything was new, exciting and we were there for each other. And that was a time in our lives where everything was a superlative: "I love you more than anything in the whole world." "I'll kill myself if I have to live without you" and such other thoughts.
By the time I met my husband I had plenty of history and had accumulated a lot of heavy baggage. But there was also plenty of wisdom which I had picked up along the way. It was this wisdom that allowed me to really love and be loved.
I had learned that when we need someone in order to exist and our body aches when that person is not around, it is not love, it is obsession. It is about us thinking a particular person has the power to rescue us. And we want to be rescued because we don't trust our own ability to take care of and provide ourselves with a rich life.
Loving someone means we don't need them but instead we want to share our lives with them, and most importantly we want to support them on their life' journey. That means giving them the foundation to let them go and be whatever is going to allow them to grow as people and to fully experience life. There is a huge difference from "you have to stay with me no matter what" or "you can't do this to me" to "I'm here loving you; go try out life".
In obsessive relationships it is all about us not the other person. And in a strange way, even though these relationships are all about us, we have no power. By needing someone we give our power away and sometimes the recipients can be quite cruel; a game that gets set up: I give you my life and you can abuse it because the truth is I'm needy and you resent me for that.
Love happens easily and naturally. No games. Two people meet and they are ready to journey together. No imprisonments or psychologically empty deals. It is simply: I love you and I want the best for you. You love me and you want the best for me. That's real love.
So I believe if we truly want to experience a deep and loving relationship we need to start by loving ourselves. That is the only way we'll be able to meet someone and share love and life without being needy or always being scared if the other person leaves our world will crumble. Because that is not love; that is obsession.
For more on Deborah Calla's writings read her blog on www.theloveprojectinc.com