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You may not agree with this somewhat controversial idea, but what is life without a bit of controversy! As you read, do your best to keep an open mind, and read to the end! As someone who believes so completely in love; and who believes that love is the end all be all, life-giving source, healer of all wounds, solver of all problems, and answer to any valid question (ok, that might be a bit much!), how is it possible that I do NOT believe in the idea or act of 'Falling In Love'?

Seem like a contradiction? It's not. 'Falling in love' is not a particularly useful notion. But instead leads many people toward heartbreak, and far away from actual love. 'Falling in love' is a way of romanticizing a drama story that an individual perceives as extremely personal and important. Ok now, don't get your undies in wad just yet! Let me break it down for you. There's love, and there's a chemical collision that's often labeled as 'falling in love'. Love is stable, unchanging and shared with all of humanity. 'Falling in love' is a chemical reaction, or a combination of chemical and sensory responses between two people that mimic familiarity. If you love a person (the falling kind or not), then you always love, period. Love doesn't require any ledge in which to tumble from! Love just is. Love is unconditional and unwavering. Love is a state of being, NOT a feeling (though living in this state is an active choice and requires great discipline). Even if a couple decides to go in separate directions from each other, love will persist indefinitely (if it existed to begin with). Hate is not the opposite of Love. Love has no opposition, except for the unwillingness to share it. Liking or likability on the other hand, is a completely different story! I love ALL people, but there are some people that, while I accept as valuable and worthy, I don't particularly enjoy or want to spend time with. Additionally, some people just aren't healthy to spend time with. Unfortunately, love and the chemical collision, are too often used interchangeably; which sets the stage for many problems in relationships. What people actually mean when they say they have 'fallen in love' is that 'my body chemicals, sensory system and emotional past are attracted to your body chemicals, sensory system and your emotional past!' The science behind the chemical collision part is pretty stinkin' groovy, and it's a fabulously fun aspect of the courting or dating process, but has essentially little to nothing to do with actual love. Remember, love is a state of being and a gift intended to be circular and extended to all, and from all. It's a deeply profound and meaningful mind, body, soul, consciousness, and spiritual truth. Understanding this distinction will change your life and bring a fresh level of calm and liberation. Best Expression Of The Dating & Pairing Process The dating process that people could move through that would be a far healthier way, and should be taught to children, is this- 1) Dedication to ongoing self-exploration, self-honor and healing, 2) Focus heavily on value and belief alignment and 3) become great friends (elaboration of these points later). Can you imagine? If this became the norm for dating, there would be hoards, loads, and tons less heartbreak. Individuals, and therefore couples would find ease, joy, peace, sustainability and so much fun! With this improved model, people looking to couple up will have an easier time combining intellect with heart, something that RARELY happens through the lens of 'falling in love'. We hear things like, "Oh my gosh, I know he's a jerk, but I just can't help it, I'm in love." Or, "I'm going to leave because I have 'fallen out of love' (or fallen in love with another...)." These are poor markers for relationship navigation, and driven by heart or emotion and devoid of intellect. If one human knows that another human is bad for him or her (hurtful, neglecting, abusive, rude, etc), but doesn't set strong boundaries, create change and/or remains in such a relationship, this is called addiction and codependence, not love. In truth, EVERY time you dishonor yourself, it's the exact opposite of love- toward yourself and others. We are chemically and emotionally attracted to people who mimic our growing up experience, for better or worse, and especially the worse. This is why your dedication to self-growth and healing is so important. Without it, creating a sustainably healthy and happy relationship is quite a challenge. Without the three keys of dating, you will continue to collide with wounded people or stay wounded together and play out your hurt continuously on each other until it's unbearable. Or until one person acts on a chemical collision with a third party and/or leaves to play out the same cycle again… Live Free Actions! The partnering process should look more like the following. With these guidelines, your endeavors in coupling will have greater success, and contain FAR less suffering and heartache. 1) Self-Commitment. Be committed to an ongoing process of personal healing, growth, discovery and development. Remember, your chemicals (body, senses, mind and emotions) attract people at the same level of healing (or lack thereof) as you at a given time. So, if you're carrying a lot of hurt and woundedness, your chemicals will attract a lover who shares your plight. Your challenges will be different, but your volatility, upset, anxiety, depression, etc, will match. Seek fervently to be filled with joy as an individual, and then and only then will it be easy to be happy with a mate! 2) Acknowledgement. Practice acknowledging each time your chemicals collide with another person's chemicals, and have fun trying to figure out why this collision has happened. Is there a level of emotional hurt or a common problem that's attracting his or her hurt to you (YES, this is a part in every chemical collision)? Is he or she super hot and sexy to your senses? Are you drawn to his or her lips? Does the sound of this particular voice remind you of something deep and lovely? You cannot choose who your chemicals collide with, but you CAN choose whether or not to indulge the attraction (especially if you have already chosen a committed relationship or the person isn't a healthy choice for you). 3) Draw Clear Distinctions. Distinguish between love, the chemical collision and the courting process you desire. Be intentional as you navigate each. If you're not clear, you will be tricked into the 'Falling In Love' drama fairy tale story! Because as far as our chemicals are concerned, some people feel like home, literally! And if you're not prepared, you will easily be lulled into a potentially unhealthy or destructive situation! 4) Shared Lifestyle, Values & Beliefs. In terms of enjoying a very long, sustainable love partnership, the most viable and important markers are shared values, common lifestyle and similar beliefs. This way you're sure to become great friends! WOW, that doesn't sound very romantic, does it? Or does it? Romance is a matter of perspective and a choice. I can say in full disclosure that having a man I can talk with for hours on end (year after year), about anything -politics, consciousness, humanity, religion, metaphysics, physics, spirituality and everything in between, is seriously sexy (his brain is a delight)! And, on top of that our romance extends to being playful and silly – dancing relentlessly to our favorite music around our Airstream (well mostly Chris laughing at me), or hiking, rock hopping and communing with Mother Earth. Anything can classify as romance if you're willing to shift your definition to suit, which can be bliss for you. Becoming friends and adoring all aspects of life together is the only way that the chemical part can or will stay intact! Otherwise, the chemical part fades, and people come to have little or no interests in common, nor anything to talk about or do together, and then guess what happens? People come to the conclusion that they have 'fallen out of love'. Choose a life partner based on value alignment, shared lifestyle and common beliefs- then watch your gorgeous friendship grow. Here's the thing about 'falling in love' that's kind of a sneaky little trick! The chemical collision that usually brings people together, 'wears off' in time. In this way, you better have chosen a person you adore, respect, and like enough to have sex with for decades to come. A man or woman whom you want to be very best friends with and desire to build deep and connected intimacy with! 5) Passion. Couples often speak to me about wanting passion in their marriage. They are usually talking about a desire for more of a combination of fun, adventure, intimacy, and sex. All wonderful elements that I strongly encourage! Yet, first individuals' passion MUST stem and bloom from within. And be associated with who you are, how you spend your time, and the love you extend to others. Then and only then, can you share a passionate life with another human-being. So maybe coupling up it isn't as 'fairy tale and romantic' as people might like (or maybe it's even more so), or maybe it's time to update your fairy tale! Either way, this information is rooted in reality and truth and will set you and your children up to experience less suffering and more joy. These principles are completely and utterly self-loving, which transfers on a very high level to genuine love and sustainability as a couple. You can add all the 'romance and fairy tale' you want; my husband and I are very romantic, playful, passionate and silly. But first and foremost we're happy individuals, we're compatible, our values are aligned and we are the best of friends- oh, and obviously our chemicals had a major collision many years back!! In the end, pairing up with a partner needs to make sound sense, something that the chemical collision piece doesn't give a crap about! This love and dating model may not be what you're used to, but it's highly functional, devoid of the traditional 'in love, outta love' drama.

Cheers to Liberate Living! Shawn

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