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Love's Ever-Changing Face

by Curt Degenhart

Anyone who's ever had a brush with the thing called love knows that this feeling so desired is also tough to pin down. There are so many kinds. We've got lusty love, companionate love, fraternal love, the kind of love you have for your grandparents, thrilling love, young love, self love, and love mixed in with a lot of pain-and many more. How can we survive a relationship with all these different forms of love floating around? If you can't survive the change, you'd better learn, since relationships are filled with love that's ever-changing.

Love's Frontier

You start out a relationship with tons of passionate love, with lots of lust mixed in. New love feels like you're climbing a mountain-thrilling, with lots of new territory to explore with every step. As the relationship endures (if you're lucky enough to have it endure) you'll begin to grow to know each other more deeply. Then love deepens, too, broadening into a 'best-friend' and companion-style love. No doubt the lusty, new love is still there, but starts to get filled out by these other feelings.

It's when love starts to change form that some people can't cope; they sense the shift as a loss of passion. They sense a reduction in passion, which to them means that something's wrong with the relationship. But it doesn't have to be that way.

When you feel yourself moving over into the companionate sort of love, just relax. It's not easy, but try to let the relationship exist at its level. It takes some getting used to but as you may soon find you enjoy it, too. This phase I have affectionately termed The Plains of Kansas. On the Plains, you are definitely no longer in the mountains of love/lust, with all that unexplored, exciting territory, where each step takes you around a new corner, over a new rock. But The Plains of Kansas have their own charms and benefits-you'll just have to look a litter harder for what's interesting there, see a little farther. You're in a place that seems to go on forever, with no apparent markers or change in landscape. But if you pay attention to the details, you'll find plenty to keep you interested.

Dizzying Love

Of course, the thrill of falling in love has its ups and downs two. As love swells up then changes in a relationship, so does your sanity level-or so it seems. On the first date, maybe you feel some of your senses slipping away, "melting into her eyes." After a month you may think, "I don't feel right when we're apart." But you never had that problem before. And of course, it doesn't feel like too serious a problem to have. It is part of the thrill of love.

Let's face it. Partners complicate our lives. First, we're driven nearly crazy with the heady rush to love. Our friends will wonder what's happened to us. Then, after a few more dates, a few more weeks, both men and women wonder neurotically, often desperately:"What if she doesn't like me as much as I like her?"... "Am I being used?"... "Is he going to pull away just when I'm falling in love?"... "How much will a breakup hurt me?" Not pleasant thoughts. But we've all experienced them at least momentarily as we embark down the road to coupledom.

Love can get even more complicated the longer you're in it. For instance, lovers tend to know more than anyone about our weaknesses and our strengths, our dreams and our worries. We allow them in and give them Knowledge. It takes a while-at least a few months-for this Knowledge to build up. But it will.

Be happy that Knowledge can be used for good, to build us up and make us feel stronger, more secure, and happier. But partners also use Knowledge against us, leaving us feeling vulnerable, sometimes abused. Being prepared for just how many "buttons" are going to get pushed is important to keeping the relationship going strong even during tough times. And all this happens because of love.

So take love, in all its forms, and embrace it. At least try. Don't get scared when you first start to realize that "some of the passion is gone," after the first month, or after the first year. Right around the corner is another kind of love that brings its own rewards.

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