Ages of Love
Love and relationships are the most complex experiences we can meet in life. Unfortunately many of us have never grown beyond the baby or adolescent love stage. If you recognise and admit it you can start moving on. But unfortunately our culture tends to believe it is normal to stay at an infantile level of love.
The following stages of love may help in defining this.
Completely dependent upon the loved person for ones needs, physical, emotional and social. Great anger, jealousy or pain if the loved one relates to anyone else, is lost, or threatens to leave. In an adult this enormous feeling reaction may also be felt at a time of emotional withdrawal of the partner, even if there is no sign of them withdrawing physically. There is a desire for unconditional love and a need to be always with the loved one. In an adult with this level of love, sex may be a part of the relationship, but the main need is a bonded connection. This is sometimes felt as a need to have the loved person want you as much, or as desperately, as you want/need them. Obviously many people never develop beyond this level.
Possibly the greatest fear, that can trigger great anger or an enormous desire to placate or earn love, is the threat or fear of being abandoned. See Beware of Love
Initial uncertainty or clumsiness concerning emotional and sexual contact. Desire to explore many relationships. Still finding out what ones boundaries and needs are. Great sexual drive. Partner will probably be loved for dreamers own needs – for example the dreamer wants a family and loves the partner to gain that end; the dreamer loves the partner because in that way they can get away from parental home. Great romantic feelings and spontaneous love which are not easy to maintain in face of difficulties.
Growing sense of recognising needs of partner yet not denying ones own. Ability to be something for the partner’s sake without losing ones own independence or will. Becoming aware of the issues that colour or influence relationship, and meeting them as partners. Independence and closeness together. Caring sexual partners through discovering each others needs and vulnerability. It can lead to needs and directions that are not considered natural. For instance many people desperately want a partner, but those who have developed an adult love can live easily without such need.
At this level of love we offer freedom to those we love, and of course we therefore expect freedom in return. But that can be very painful to those who are still in other ages of love. See Beware of Love.
My grandmother told me, that God has given us the gift of love, and that was a special thing, like a gift of the spirit. She led me to the sense that this gift is like a potential. It isn’t something fully formed. It is a rare thing, and difficult in our world to fully live it, to make it real in the physical world. But this is what the gift is for, to make real, to live and let it shine. She said that although we will have to work at it, it can be done, and that this love can bring us a sort of happiness few have.
But it is important to realise that we are all dual beings. We exist strung between enormous duality – sleep and waking, male and female, pain and pleasure, light and darkness, life and death, and death and resurrection. To be whole we need to accept and meet these opposites. In the pursuit of love we need to recognise that that we must integrate the other gender to become whole.
What happens in a relationship that doesn’t integrate ones own inner opposite is that when we take a person into a close partner we actually integrate them into us as our male or female. Then if the relationship breaks up it feels like a part of us has been torn out – painfully. If we have become whole however, not such pain can occur, for we have our own inner male/female. See archetype of the anima and archetype of the animus