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My exploration of love continues and now brings me to the Three Stages of Love, according to Bryan Reeves. He says that the stage you live in affects the quality, depth and magic of your experiences in life and love.

Stage 1 – I need you to love me.

Stage 2 – I will love myself.

Stage 3 – I am love, itself.

In Stage 1, I need the outside world to appreciate me, validate me, respect me, love me. To experience love, I need the outside world to be a certain way. My parents have to approve of me. I need to make this much money. My girlfriend has to behave in ways I like. My friends have to treat me a certain way.
Oh my, what an unstable existence!
Love just evaporates the moment the world stops meeting our conditions!
If we can avoid cynicism, eventually we simply realize Stage 1 love isn’t reliable. It’s completely ephemeral, and thus not consistently fulfilling. Disillusionment sets in. Welcome to Stage 2.

Stage 2 – I will love myself.

I don’t need you to love me. I’ll give love to myself. I’ll take myself on dates and vacations. I’ll pamper myself with good food and clothes and trips to the spa. In fact, I’ll do something awesome for me everyday. I’ll meditate and do yoga, maybe go find myself in India. I’ll be kind to me and say affirmations in the mirror about how wonderful, beautiful, brilliant and delicious I am! I’ll say to myself, “I love you!” and I might even marry myself (self-marriage ceremonies are now coming into fashion).
I’ll develop both my masculine and feminine qualities so that I am a whole, complete individual. My life is more or less great with or without a partner. Not needing a partner feels really empowering to me, and safe.
Before long, though, I realize that safety becomes stagnant, maybe even suffocating. Although I love myself consistently which feels nice, I only give love to others when it’s appropriate and feels good, because I know they’re responsible for their own self-love, too. I may not fully accept another person’s love because I know it’s unstable. Something is missing. Disillusionment is stirring. Welcome to Stage 3.

Stage 3 – I am love, itself.

I have discovered an endless well-spring of love sourced deep within my very own heart. I can radiate love into the world because I now know I could never possibly run out! Effortlessly, I give love to myself and my partner, to bored workers at the DMV, to democrats and republicans, to the whole world. I still work towards a better world, but no longer with anxiety. I have finally learned to love everything this crazy life throws at me.
I instinctively move away from people who want to hurt me because I love myself deeply. Where I used to leave in anger, now I leave in love because I know only people in pain want others to hurt, too. Still, I’ll love them from a distance.
I’m free to live my authentic truth everyday. I don’t need validation from outside me.
Disillusionment is welcome, because I know it just points the way towards a deeper love within me that doesn’t depend on outside conditions.
If I have a partner, I love her with all of me, always curious to explore how I might make her life richer. She’s free to show up however she wants, because I simply love doing this exquisite dance with her. We’re also both free to end this dance whenever we feel that’s our deepest truth. We let love show the way.

~*~

My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015 is That Thing Called Love, inspired by a quote by Thich Nhat Hahn: “To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.” Having written about Colour in 2012 and Folklore in 2014, it’s time to get personal (and maybe a tad romantic).  The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here. Enjoy!

Artwork by the incredibly talented Vimal Chandran will accompany my posts for the challenge. 

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