Mandy Len Catron is the author of the new book, How to Fall in Love with Anyone. Mandy’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Walrus, as well as literary journals and anthologies. Her TEDx talks can be found at TED.com. She writes about love and love stories at The Love Story Project (TheLoveStoryProject.ca) and she teaches English and creative writing at the University of British Columbia. Her original article “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This” was one of the most popular articles published by The New York Times in 2015.
Amy Gahran is the author of the book, Stepping off the Relationship Escalator: Uncommon Love and Life. She is a journalist, editor and writer who has lived in Boulder, Colorado for over two decades. Her journalism has appeared in CNN.com, Entrepreneur.com and many other venues. In her personal life, Amy has engaged in unconventional relationships since 2001. In 2012, she launched the blog SoloPoly.net, using the pen name Aggie Sez.
Valentine’s Day 2012 … and if I still bought into the premise of it, it could make me feel depressed. In fact, our annual celebration of romantic love brings up longing for most people. This feeling of lack makes good lyrics for love songs by restimulating our bottomless craving for happily-ever-after romantic fantasies. A lot of suffering is also caused by this longing for a perfect love.
Constant craving for the fulfillment of a dream is desire gone wild and, just like the 2nd noble truth of Buddhism predicts, the result is suffering, psychological suffering—feeding feelings of loneliness, jealousy, failure, inadequacy and insecurity.
The idea that there is one special person out there who is your perfect match is what I call “the soulmate trap.” From an energetic point of view, it is quite an uncertain proposition—this idea that the only way to achieve intimacy is to find someone to fall in love with who falls in love with you at the same time. What are the odds of that? (Hint: They get worse as you get older.) Putting all your eggs in this magical basket is enough to make anyone feel insecure!
But we are too brainwashed with our culture’s romantic ideology, like a narcissistic obsession that causes more suffering than it’s worth (while goosing the sale of greeting cards and candy).
Everybody wants intimacy—to be seen and accepted and appreciated for who you are. Intimacy is closeness. The only politically correct pathway to intimacy in western culture—the one that is non-stop promoted in magazines, books, movies, TV and online—starts out with the magical feeling of falling in love, aka romantic infatuation. From there (if you are old enough) it goes to sex, and then—if you are lucky … that is very, very lucky—it gets to trust and emotional intimacy.
We take it for granted that this highly stimulating, romantic fantasy-based approach is the only true pathway to intimacy. It’s culturally incorrect to even question this (wanna be called a “killjoy”?), but it hasn’t actually been this way for that long. The pathway to intimacy that begins with choosing on the basis of infatuation started only about 200 years ago (although because of Hollywood and media it is spreading worldwide like wildfire). Before that, the path to intimacy, even in the western world, began with an arrangement—i.e., an arranged marriage. This didn’t always work to produce intimacy either, but having lived in India for a year, I suspect the odds are higher for partnerships that start with an arrangement that takes into account real compatibility and other practical considerations.
For a lot of us who are getting older (and who are still going to live a long time) and not looking to start a new family, traditional forms of marriage—arranged or otherwise—may not make sense. But marriage is only one type of ‘arrangement’ in an open-minded modern culture. Perhaps two people who are sufficiently attracted to each other—and who are not demanding all-or-nothing “love-at-first-sight”—settling into a mutually beneficial arrangement designed to help or support each other in different ways, is an approach worth moving toward, a friends-with-chemistry sort of thing. Real love does not have to spring full-blown at first sight; in fact, fantasies are always relatively short-lived projections. The heart is happy to grow a love, if given the chance to “settle” into it.
One chapter in Ken Keyes’ excellent book Conscious Person’s Guide to Relationships is entitled “Falling in love is not a good basis for involvement.” Hmmm … maybe the arrangement approach works better. To be sure, there would need to be the spice of romance (aka “chemistry), but romance is the spice, not the main course. Obsessing on the romantic aspect is like gorging on sugar cookies before dinner. The main course, the real nourishment, is trust and intimacy. It doesn’t really matter how you get there. Wanna start with dessert? Most kids do, but as our parents used to tell us, be careful not ruin your appetite for healthy nutrition, and you will suffer less from romantic indigestion (aka serious disillusionment). So, get together with a friend and give him or her a hug and a kiss!
Arielle Ford discusses her book, The Soulmate Secret: Manifest the Love of Your Life with the Law of Attraction. She has mastered the art of making things happen. A nationally recognized publicist and marketing expert, producer, author and consultant she has catapulted many authors and celebrities to stardom and enormously facilitated the rapid growth of the self-help and human potential movement in the US.
Dr. John F. Demartini is a professional speaker, author, and business consultant whose clients range from Wall Street financiers, financial planners, and corporate executives to health-care professionals, actors, and sports personalities. Founder of the Concourse of Wisdom School of Philosophy and Healing, Dr. Demartini began his career as a doctor of chiropractic and went on to explore more than 200 different disciplines in pursuit of what he calls Universal Principles of Life and Health.
Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman is known as Dr. Date to her clients and is a licensed psychologist specializing in interpersonal relationships. As the owner and director of My Dating School in Manhattan, Sherman facilitates classes in dating and relationships both face-to-face and through her online social networking community. She is also a frequent speaker with the Learning Annex.
Brock Noyes speaks about the article “Sexual R-Evolution – Investigating the Biology of Eros.” Brock has lifelong experience in the holistic health field, and serves as a guide for individuals seeking dynamic change. He is also a Portland local, a writer, a musician, and a composer. His private practice, called Pathways to Well Being, includes healing psychophysiology, rapid eye technology, family counseling, therapeutic breathwork, and meditation. Brock’s daily meditation practice has been ongoing for 35 years and he has studied in Nepal under Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, though he does not consider himself a master.
Phyllis Curott is the author of Book of Shadows, which has sold more than 100,000 copies in the U.S. and is an international bestseller. Ms. Curott is a respected civil liberties attorney honored as one of the Ten Gutsiest Women of the Year by Jane Magazine. She is also a Wiccan priestess, interfaith activist, and a member of the Assembly of World Religious Leaders who teaches internationally. Her most recent memoir is The Love Spell.
Kathy Freston shares her book, Expect a Miracle: 7 Spiritual Steps to Finding the Right Relationship. She is a self-help author and wellness counselor; she specializes in a body/mind/spirit approach for bringing about health and happiness. Freston has worked with people healing from cancer, addiction, and depression as well as those who simply want to live consciously and healthfully.