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Love Wears Many Masks

Updated on April 9, 2017
"The Waterfall" by Maxfield Parrish
"The Waterfall" by Maxfield Parrish

The River Of Life Is The River Of Love

Look around you. In any single day, you will see people who are in various stages of love. Some are madly in love with each other, some are falling out of love, there are some who are in the beginnings of a love affair, and at the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those who are living with broken love. Simple observation? But, look deeper. It really is not that simple once you have lived a few years. Love is a river that never ends, running shallow at times, running deep at others, turning, twisting, slowing, speeding, forced powerfully into the confines of a canyon, then relaxing wide and lulling through a broad and verdant valley. And through all of its journey, love, like that river, has an end to which it flows. But that end...ah, that elusive end...is where love has been tamed, harnessed, enjoyed for what it was meant to bring, and that is peace, true peace, in the soul.

Needing Someone

In the human heart, there is a genetic code that makes all of us prone to the need of the company, the closeness, of someone else. That “need” for another person, or persons, will vary with each of us. On a scale of one to ten, some of us need very little companionship. These are the “Tens,” more self-fulfilled and less needy. Then there are those at the other end of the spectrum, the “Ones,” and these people cannot live without constant companionship. The “Tens” are often wrongly called “self-absorbed,” and the “Ones” are often called “needy,” but there is actually much more to it than a simple description as the scale I just utilized here. Most of us fall somewhere in between these two extremes, and the balance that renders a person somewhere in that healthy and popular middle zone takes years of practice and introspection.

Approval Of Others

It is human nature to desire approval from someone whom we deem to be superior to our own selves in some way. Maybe they have a beautiful face, one that we think is superior to our own, and we just want them to look at us with that beautiful face of theirs and smile with the same look of “want” that we are trying to hide within our own hearts. We seek within the other person that which we find missing within our selves, and we seek in the other that approval that validates our own value. When we gain their approval of us, we psychologically convince ourselves that we have, therefore, finally been elevated in worth. While it is a false construct, because our true self-worth is determined from within, not from without, this is the simplest construct of love. But, love wears many faces. There is the face of young love, the beginning of experiencing this euphoric sensation. There is mature love, that which comes from having been in love with the same person for many years and no longer needing daily validation from the other person to feel that we, ourselves, have worth. And there is the greatest level of love, that which comes when we have learned to love ourselves sufficiently to be able to exist without the need of the approval of others. Arriving at this last and highest level is the destination of that river I mentioned at the beginning. It is where the river empties into the ocean, where all that contributed to the river in its journey becomes mixed with the vastness of all that is, all that has been, and all that shall ever be.

Sex Is Sex, Love Is Love

When we are young, we discover the distraction of sexual desire, and this new discovery adds another dimension to our pursuit of what we think is love. Now, it is no longer just a face, no longer just a smile, nor just a kind act of consideration, but an arousal that occurs within the glands. Someone once facetiously said that, when these glands are aroused, the oxygen leaves the brain. And this is where foolish people begin to equate sex with love...but it is not. Sex is sex, love is love. The two do indeed mix, but love will always be the supreme factor that determines all. Obviously, sex without love is possible, and love without sex is possible...both are extremes. But, while love without sex can still be rewarding, sex without love is an empty world. I have often said that when the sex is over, what do you have? All relationships have to ask this question, because if your “love” is foolishly built on what sexual pleasure the other person gives you, then what do you do when the sex is over? There are twenty-four hours in a day, and even a champion athlete has to rest at some point. Do you have anything else in common with the person with whom you have been having sex? When people are pursing a sexual partner, they ignore all other things, but when the sex is over, there eventually comes a time when those “other things” start to rear their heads and speak...some very loudly. And this is where I see so many miserable couples living together in spite and bitterness. They married for sex, not love, and back to what I said earlier, when the sex is over, what do you have? Real love stays at this point, false love takes a train.

"Ecstasy" by Maxfield Parish
"Ecstasy" by Maxfield Parish

You Are In Charge

Here are the clinical facts. Sexual desire, whatever level we become accustomed to, never ceases. One does not out grow the desire. People who discover the joy of sex will spend the rest of their lives remembering how good it felt to be with their favorite sexual partner, and anything, or anyone, that rekindles that emotion will cause desire to whisper in our ears. What we do with that whisper is called wisdom, maturity, valor. There was once a famous British politician who was rather portly, and to whom a journalist asked an impertinent question of whether or not he still had sex. He replied that he found the position to be too ridiculous, the pleasure too fleeting and the cost too demanding, to be of any interest. Much can be read into that statement. I have encountered couples who have no sex at all, and I have encountered couples who cannot keep their hands off of each other. To each their own. No excuses are necessary, because no one should ever tell anyone whom they can love, nor should they be permitted to dictate the terms of that love. Someone once very wisely said, “Sad is the person whose happiness is measured by the permission of others.” But, never forget that love is what two consenting people agree to. Sounds simple? For some, it takes a lifetime to arrive there. Strange how some can arrive there at love’s first glimmer. But, let that be. Don’t knock yourself if it takes kissing a lot of frogs to finally find your prince. One thing is very certain, there is no rule written anywhere that says that you can only love once, that you must find your life’s love early in life, or that it will be easy. Even people who fall in love at first sight and end up living together for the rest of their lives soon discover that there is much give and take in order to make any relationship last that long.

No Games

Some people like to play games, and in every culture, and in every era of time, there have been the games of intrigue that were employed to snag a partner. A friend of mine is fond of saying that games are for kids. He is right. I believe that, when it comes to striving for love, always be honest. Say the opposite of what you mean, and you’ll get the opposite of what you want. But one should equally keep in mind that some people are best left unpursued. My great aunt use to say that the person you have to work hard to get, you have to work twice as hard to keep. Often repeated is the sage advice that, in order to have someone love you, you must first learn to love yourself. The more you try to find self-validation outside of yourself, the more needy you will be, and the lower your standards will be for a partner. It is a self-defeating cycle to look outside of oneself for validation. Whatever it takes, look inside of yourself, find something to love about yourself. Don’t find fault with yourself, but find something that you do well, and let that be the starting block for the race to the top. Everyone has faults, even the beautiful person that has caught your eye and who seems so perfect. Live with them long enough, and you will most certainly find their faults. Learning to live with the person you have fallen in love with is a lesson in life. Without the give and take, mutual respect, genuinely caring for each other, the emptiness that then results leads to a disappointment and bitterness that is sad, to say the least. But, know this, love is as perennial as the grass and the trees. No matter what our age, or what sorrows and hardships we have been through, we can still turn the corner of tomorrow and find love shinning down on us all over again. The face may be a little older, but the smile is still just as sweet.

April 9, 2017 11:48 p.m.

"Daybreak" by Maxfield Parrish
"Daybreak" by Maxfield Parrish

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    • threekeys profile image

      ThreeKeys 13 days ago from Australia

      Hi Brian I enjoyed reading your article. It was consolidating. Real and earthy. A good reminder to all of us whether we be in the moderate zone or extreme zones. Each person's relationship is their own business and nobody else's. In other words, as long as there are two consenting adults and the style of relationship is working for both of you, all is good and well.

    • Hanavee profile image
      Author

      Brian Gray 13 days ago from Pennsylvania

      ThreeKeys,

      Thanks for reading my latest article. Love is a difficult thing to master, and it costs so many heartaches to finally get there. When two people finally find each other, and they feel that the relationship completes them, I am happy for them. I hope my article helps those who are still trying to figure it all out, and for those who are still lonely and desperate, I want them to know that they are not unusual, but actually quite the norm. For them, I simply say, take a deep breath, don't give up, enjoy life, and learn to appreciate yourself more. When love is ready, it will show up.

      Brian

      Brian

    • profile image

      Damian Fedorko 13 days ago

      Enjoyed the article and the paintings. I will be married 47 years this year and I'm still having fun.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 13 days ago from Southern Illinois

      Love wears many masks, how very true that is. To be able to remove the mask and be yourself is essential in finding love. A pretty face is a beautiful thing, but a heart that loves and shares is everlasting. I loved reading your article. Thank you..

    • profile image

      Resa 12 days ago

      Beautifully written and very true. Love is the greatest emotion that drives us all. Thank you for your article.

    • Hanavee profile image
      Author

      Brian Gray 12 days ago from Pennsylvania

      Damian,

      A long love is a blessing.

      Brian

    • Hanavee profile image
      Author

      Brian Gray 12 days ago from Pennsylvania

      Ruby Jean Fuller,

      Thank you for reading my latest and for your good comments. "A heart that loves and share is everlasting," isn't that the truth. Well said!

      Brian

    • Hanavee profile image
      Author

      Brian Gray 12 days ago from Pennsylvania

      Resa,

      Thanks for reading, Sis. Love is the one gift that keeps on giving, even after we've "left the room."

      Your Big Brother

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 11 days ago

      I agree that finding love is not difficult.

      What makes it so is we all have our own caveats/stipulations.

      "..never forget that love is what two consenting people agree to." - Very true!

      Everyone defines love differently. Each of us has our own idea of what love is suppose to "look like", "feel like", and how people "in love" or those who love us should "act like".

      We're basically looking for people to love us (the way) we want to be loved. "If you loved me you would or wouldn't do ...etc"

      Essentially if we're not being loved (the way) we want to be loved then we don't (feel loved) no matter what is in the other person's heart, their words, or deeds. It's not about (them)! It's us!

      There are only two ways to experience joy and peace of mind in relationships: We either get what we want or we learn to be happy with what we have. Accept them (as is) or move on.

      Maybe it's human nature to have our own "must have" list.

      Last but not least to make it even more difficult to find love many of us resent having to "tell" people what we want or need in order to feel loved. We imagine "true love" is when someone naturally and instinctively loves us (the way) we desire to be loved.

    • Hanavee profile image
      Author

      Brian Gray 11 days ago from Pennsylvania

      Dashingscorpio,

      In all my years of observing the world, I find that each of us is a thumb print, no two alike, but some of us can feel, at times, like we are incomplete. When we find someone who seems to be the "missing piece" to that puzzle, the other "half" to that thumbprint, life seems to run a lot smoother for a while. But all love is temporary, even if it is a love that lasts many years, because we rarely leave this life together and at the same time. Thus, when we lose the person we loved, we have to still be able to live alone, because we were alone before we found love, and someday, we will be alone again. Enjoy all the various loves that come through your life, those that last a day, and those that last a year. They each have value to your soul.

      You spoke truth when you said, "There are only two ways to experience joy and peace of mind in relationships: We either get what we want or we learn to be happy with what we have. Accept them (as is) or move on."

      Sometimes, those two "halves" still make a "whole," even though those two halves are not equal.

      Brian

    • threekeys profile image

      ThreeKeys 10 days ago from Australia

      Beautiful and real. That is what is sad and frightening. To know a love and then to face our task of eventually facing the end of our lifetime alone. Like death and taxes, we come into the world alone and exit the world alone-these are the three certainities of life.

    • Hanavee profile image
      Author

      Brian Gray 10 days ago from Pennsylvania

      threekeys,

      Like the old song says, "It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all."

      Brian

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