Being with another person helps us discover ourselves. As we learn to appreciate the similarities that bring us closer, we also see the differences that make us unique.
The Strength of the Couple
Together, we create a reciprocal and mutually dependable bond that brings harmony to the relationship. In such an environment, we know that we are free to keep a level of independence. At the same time, we can explore creativity, passion, dreams, and goals. We grow individually, and together. We can explore life, with all its surprises and gifts, as a journey to enjoy and learn from. We share our passion and wisdom with our partner, being encouraged to be ourselves in the presence of another.
When we see life through similar and complementary lenses, share beliefs and values, and relate to someone on a spiritual and personal level, it is easier to support each other in setting mutual goals and realizing common dreams with a healthy measure of interdependency. Time spent together adds to the quality of the interpersonal connection and enhances our well-being.
A Decision Based in Wisdom
My friend Zelia—a talented and sensitive artist—says: “Love is a decision, a choice, a feeling, and a connection with someone special. Although relationships can be challenging at times, I know they can be extremely supportive. I am fascinated by them.” In the ideal supportive environment Zelia referred to, when disagreements arise, loving couples respectfully express diverging or opposite views:
- They learn to accept weaknesses and to compensate for what is missing as well as they can, whenever possible.
- Couples who remember to show compassion, patience, and consideration for their partner last longer and are happier.
- When those in a relationship forgive, forget, and move on, they cultivate an intimate connection. This is far better than seeking to be right and wanting to prove the other person wrong.
- Those who respond to each other’s desires and needs with kindness can forgive the imperfection that characterizes human beings.
A Pragmatic Difference
Although physical attraction, strong feelings, and excitement are ingredients of a romantic relationship, it is friendship, camaraderie, and goodwill that transform romance into true, profound, and enduring love. Pragma and agape enable us to enrich another person’s life. They also guide us in adding value to their existence while serving their needs.
In the context of a long-term relationship, pragma and agape empower us to help another person on their path. Furthermore, we can support them when their weaknesses prevent them from moving forward. Pragma and agape enable people to share inner gifts and talents; this foster growth and contributes to peace.
When we cultivate pragma and agape, we learn valuable lessons from our experience. We also continue to enjoy life with an enthusiastic attitude. This type of LOVE encompasses acceptance, compassion, and mutual support. As my friend Marie Léontine’s husband Jean Blaise Bilombo puts it: “On one hand, love is and remains the opposite of selfishness. On the other hand, love is the great ally of conversation, mutual caring, and dreaming together.” Pragma and agape bring us the opportunity to embrace a life full of promises, hopes, faith, and joy.
Let me ask you: how badly do you want to be in a fulfilling relationship? Are you connecting with other singles? Are you willing to shift your perspective from falling in love to standing for LOVE?
Keep the faith
According to the couples I interviewed, as single gen-Xers and baby boomers, we must keep the faith. It is also crucial that we believe that there is someone out there looking for us. As we want to be found, they too long for love and connectedness.
We should therefore endeavor to connect with a person who shares our values and interests. Let’s look for someone who wants a long-term commitment as much as we do. If we desire to build a long-term relationship, we are encouraged to take a chance and put ourselves out there so that we can be found. We must also be vulnerable and open, while focusing on what we want as much as what we have to offer.
Once you meet the person that you might be interested in, listen with intent. This will allow you to hear what they share with you and to acknowledge their perspective. You will also discover whether you can add value to their existence and vice versa.
As we grow in confidence, overcome our fear, and attempt to form a new bond, the key to our success lies in our ability to listen. In doing so, we will hear the other person’s heart and hurt, with intent and good will so that we can serve, support, and cherish them unselfishly.
Instead of falling in love, remember that you can choose to stand for love.