What Does It Take To Maintain Love

Love comes from values, not pheromones! Earth-based cultures built relationships on the bedrock of shared values. They didn't sweep long-term goals under the bed simply because they were eager to jump into it.

If what you seek is lasting love, get back to genuine values. Grow a flower before a child, smell a puppy's breath instead of the latest perfume, walk barefoot through the morning dew instead of trying on the latest aerobic sneaker. Then, settle for nothing less than another who feels the same.

Know your needs and share them. Closeness cannot occur without honesty. Listen to your partner with empathy and without judgment. Praise your partner. Love cannot survive in an atmosphere of constant criticism. Share responsibilities. Taking out the trash does not require a Y chromosome. No relationship is perfect all the time. Working together through the hard times will make the relationship stronger.

A key, often overlooked ingredient in love is risk taking, the willingness to risk opening your deepest emotional life to another person. Stultifying, loveless marriages of people afraid to reveal their deepest feelings scar society's emotional landscape like burned-out buildings.

The recipe for successful love also requires giving--and forgiving.

The fragility of love today stems from societal dilemmas, not simply from individual hang-ups. The idea that all of our sensual, intimate, and altruistic attachments must go toward a single member of the opposite sex is a 20th-century invention. In the 1950s, marital therapists, real estate agents, advertisers, sociologists, and scriptwriters urged us to cut ties with kin and neighbors who might compete with lovers for our attention, loyalty, and obligation. The result: For many, love has become an all-or-nothing proposition. We expect to fulfill all of our needs and responsibilities through love--so we often lose it when it fails to meet those expectations.

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