I am convinced that in order to love someone fully, we must understand and embrace two dimensions of our personality that often seem at odds with one another. One dimension involves our capacity to stand alone, to exercise mature independence and to make choices out of an inner confidence we have developed and even created. The other relates to our capacity to surrender to another, to merge in oneness as we hold and embrace the other's body and spirit.
With independence, we pride ourselves that we can stand on our own two feet and succeed. Yet our hunger to merge and be one with the person we love seems to speak of another reality. Can feel like the opposite of standing on our own, not depending on someone else for much - if anything.
With a need to honor each side of one coin, we often struggle to have a voice of independence, while trying to join our lover in oneness and unity. Both sides of the coin, I believe, have voices and energies that need to be honored and incorporated into how we love and reach out to our soul mate.
The voice of independence, of standing on our own two feet, celebrates diversity and separation. That voice, a true voice inside our head that speaks to us about goals, about what we want in life, about marching to our own drum, compels us to create and manufacture a path ahead from our own resilience and maturity. It comes from a deep sense of being OK with ourselves and our ability to live alone and apart.
The voice of unity, of oneness and our desire to merge in spirit and body with our lover, lets go of individuality and our capacity to live alone. Rather, that voice embraces vulnerability and the need to have support, love and mirroring from another human being. It says, "I want to be one with you" and experience life together. Not apart.
I believe that with each voice, each energy, each striving and hope that coincides with that theme, the real power comes from acknowledging both as valid in your life. And then cultivating each dimension - in light of the other one.
So with merging and joining, if I do that out of choice, out of volitional surrender - rather than extreme need or hunger for love at all costs - then I will join my lover in strength. If, on the other hand, I need to merge with him or her because I'm desperate and have no individual identity that gives me personal power and confidence, I will forfeit healthy individuality and ultimately offer little to my lover and soul mate.
And if, in my striving for independence, I refuse to tolerate vulnerability, openness and transparency, then I will never be present and involved - truly involved - in my lover's life. Independence, void of the capacity to let go and choose to be one with your lover, reflects an immaturity that grows out of the bedrock of fear and probably hurt or survival at some point in that person's life.
As lovers, we need to learn to recognize the voices of absolute surrender on the one hand and the need for a separate self apart from others on the other. And then create a language together that honors both. We do this by affirming each other's uniqueness and need for a life apart from us. And we do this by affirming our desire to be one with our life partner and to treat them in ways that let them know our desire to know them deeply and to be known - attuned to each other's needs without self-interest.
Explore these ideas with your lover. Tell them about the kind of closeness you hope for in your life together. Then honor and highlight their uniqueness and find out what they need to feel admired and respected and how you can help them achieve their separate goals and interests. Learn to speak two languages together - the language of oneness and the language of individuality. You'll create a deeper love, a more genuine respect and a more brilliant look at how to keep passion alive.