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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.

Baby love:

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

Adolescent 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.

Adult love:

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

 

Comments

-Cameron 2012-09-28 1:08:57

Hi Tony,

Thank you so much for your wisdom and insight, these pages are an immense and welcome resource in the reality of today!

I’m a 24 year-old male who feels that he is straddling two ages: emotionally I exhibit many features of an adult love, such as a great independence and easily-given love, as well as loving from a place that doesn’t feel hurt or possessive when partnership becomes less certain or solid, or even withdrawn completely. However, in some ways I am still exhibiting more adolescent attitudes, particularly in desiring a partner that I can see myself having children with, as well as feelings of sexual insecurity that result in clumsiness and doubt during sex (stemming from a perceived lack of sexual experience for someone my age).

So, I’m writing to ask about that parenthetical specifically: Do you think it is possible that my lingering immaturity has the most to do with sexual relationships and the perceived lack thereof in my life? Do you think it would be helpful for me to put aside my beliefs about monogamy and exclusivity and deep emotional investment that tend to dictate my sexual relationships for a time to fully explore the adolescent that is lingering in me? Or would this departure from my values hinder my spiritual development, which I feel is progressing very well? Finally, do you think that I would find it easier to express myself artistically if I were to allow the adolescent parts of me to explore a variety of sexual partners before I move on from them?

All of your work is very much appreciated, and I have been sure to offer this site to friends whom I think might benefit from your perspective. Thank you for being!

Peace,
Cameron

Reply

    -Tony Crisp 2012-11-29 11:50:46

    Cameron – I am sorry I missed your post. But I have just seen it and want to reply.

    I would love to see any dreams you have as this might point me in a better direction. What I do sense from what you write is that you have a conflict of interests. You have been brought up in an area and culture of monogamy, yet you are living in a time of rapidly changing values.

    Quite honestly I do not know the defined answer to any of your questions. But I do know that at one time having emerged from two marriages in which I felt that I needed and wanted to have a committed relationship, yet I constantly messed it up. But every time I explored it in any depth I was plunged into reliving childhood emotions. But also I felt and did, move toward greater independence and had several partners. So I think it is worth exploring the most imperative drive you have. It might not be the right one, but you will clarify what you want.

    So I would suggest that you try a method that might work for you to find out for yourself. It is called EMDR or rapid eye movements. For instance, in its simplest form, the person I would think of the strongest feelings they have about he question they are investigating. Then you need to concentrate on the feeling, and think of the most upsetting part of it. Then you start the eye movements. I suggest you do this for at least a minute. Without moving your head, move your eyes from the lowest point on the left to the highest point on the right – fairly quickly.

    The point of this is to distract our thinking mind which is usually the way we deal with problems, and opens us to a process that usually quickly present us with what underlies our question. So as you finish the eye movements close you eyes and allow any feeling or seemingly irrational images to play out. You may need to do this several times to get the result you want.

    I have used it many times with success – but you must be able to allow and work with what emerges spontaneously. See http://dreamhawk.com/approaches-to-being/lifes-little-secrets/

    Tony

    Reply

      -Gabriella 2015-10-20 20:42:24

      Hi Tony! You have a gift! Will you please help me understand my dream? It’s very short. I remember feeling a lose tooth abd panicked but when I saw inside my mouth I realized it was a milk tooth and i was relieved. I thought that as soon as it got lose I would yank it off. Which happened right away. Then I noticed another tooth getting loose and looked into my mouth and notices it was also a baby tooth so I yanked it off with no worries. These were both the 3rd or fourth teeth to each side around the canine. I then noticed that I didn’t see any molars..which freaked me out but then I noticed I can feel them with my tongue..they just weren’t fully grown out or the angle in which I’m looking in wouldn’t let me see them. Please help

      Reply

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