We sometimes think we don’t have those special feelings for someone because we feel many different things for them simultaneously. In this objectified world, physical attraction, or a rush of emotions combined with our instinctual drive to procreate, is often viewed as the singularly most important, and sometimes sole measure of whether or not we “feel that way” about someone. Even if we are highly sexual, this animal magnetism has little to do with our real interest in and ability to love someone. If we want someone because they are crazy sexy or insanely gorgeous, or because there is something about them that gets under our skin; then there may not be much left that we like about them after the dazzling pyrotechnics erupt and fade away. Such attraction alone is highly superficial, and fails to provide a basis for a sustainable love relationship. These connections may quickly burst into flame, and in their ashes it is often realized that nothing else was ever there. If we want real love, then we need to find something more than compelling chemistry or good sex.
How To Recognize The Broader Attraction of Balanced Love
When we love someone for who they really are, we cherish them as a whole person. We don’t just want them because of how they look or because of the presence of animal magnetism. There are usually at least 5-10 things about them that we treasure, and these typically require six months or more to fully discover. These could include things like their beautiful and quirky personality, how they have a lot in common with us, how their communication style synchronizes ours, how their perspective on spirituality harmonizes ours, their investment in health and wellness, their commitment to exercise and conscious nutrition, the ways they care for kids and animals, how they deal with challenging situations, how we feel better when we are with them than when we are without them, how we work well together as a team, how we respect them and they respect us too, how they put our needs above their own, how we feel loved and appreciated by them in the big and little things of life, how we relish the fact that they see us for who we really are and love us anyway, how they always lift us up and strengthen us, how we can trust them with anything and know it, how we can laugh and cry with them, and how we are attracted to them as a man or woman.
When there are so many things about them that we love, it may seem like we are less physically attracted to them than we are to someone we share only animal magnetism with. This is because all the other things we cherish about them — the many different ways we love them — are all forms of attraction too. All these other kinds of attraction may seem to bury, or dilute, our physical attraction for them — like when we receive lots of wonderful gifts instead of just one. So our true love might not seem as magnetically appealing or bewitchingly sexy at first (because of the numerous other things we love about them being experienced at the same time). But this love is deeper, richer, sweeter, and stronger. And when we pull our physical attraction to them out of all the other goodies in their “gift basket,” we often discover — “Whoa Baby!” — that we are actually more attracted to them — it just wasn’t as obvious to us because of all the other things we love about them too.
Imagine a richly hemp-scented rustic woven basket, with sumptuous pensile luminaries adorning its periphery, filled with an abundance of sweet and thoughtful gifts. Inside the basket we find a hard cover edition of the Mahabharata, a container filled with homemade pumpkin curry soup, a moldavite pendant, peppermint essential oil, dark chocolate truffles, nutritional supplements, keys to a house and car, a T-shirt, a CD containing a workout playlist, poetry written just for us, and a bottle of our favorite champagne in a black box.
Now imagine a gift consisting of a bottle of cheap champagne playfully wrapped in a lacy black thong tied on with a ruffly red garter.
When thinking about the gift basket, how much of a feeling of compelling interest, or excitement did we have about the champagne alone (even though it is our favorite)? We noticed it, but we were also noticing and appreciating the other things in the basket, the sentiments behind them, and how complete or well-rounded the contents were.
With the G-string bubbly, there was nothing else to focus on, so we drank it down while visualizing its sexy giver wearing the thong and dancing exotically during tomorrow night’s hot date.
When there are many things we like about something (or someone), we are less likely to focus solely on any one thing — even if it is something that alone would be highly compelling or even spellbinding (like our favorite champagne, or our physical attraction to someone we love). So we might pay less attention to the champagne in the gift basket than the champagne alone — even though we like the champagne in the gift basket much better. This is, in no way, intended to place judgement on or minimize the bottle of champagne by comparison to the gift basket — or to suggest that a gift containing many things is more valuable than a gift containing one thing.
Best Friend Relationships
For decades studies have shown that “Best Friend” relationships make the best marriages. In a Monmouth University study conducted in February 2017, 83% of 801 people surveyed reported that their best friend was their romantic partner. This percentage was even higher for those among the participants who were married (88%). Dr. Lewandowski said, “Considering your romantic partner to be your best friend is an important component of quality relationships. In fact, when researchers asked couples who have been married over 15 years why their relationship lasted, the top reason was that their partner is their best friend.” “With your BFF as your romantic partner you get the best of both worlds — someone with whom you can laugh, share your life, and cuddle.”
In “Should You Marry A Passionate Lover Or Your Best Friend, Philip Perry reports in January 2018 that “Now, a new study finds that for both sexes, those who consider their spouse their best friend experience even greater benefits. The results were published in the Journal of Happiness Studies.” This statement followed a review of earlier research highlighting the health benefits of marriage over the single or divorced lifestyle — suggesting that marrying your best friend increases the health benefits of marriage even more than being married in general.
Dr. John Gottman, marriage expert and author of Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, says that it is natural for you to think of your spouse as your best friend—it’s really very important for your marriage, in fact. According to Gottman, deep friendship is the foundation of a happy marriage. In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Gottman explains what this friendship should look like: “ …mutual respect and enjoyment of each other’s company. They tend to know each other intimately—they are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes and dreams. They have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness not just in the big ways but in little ways day in and day out.”
In “Marrying Your Best Friend” Monica Gabriel Marshall says “Newly married, I was surprised by how quickly this best friendship solidified. The vulnerability and total self-gift of marriage forged the deepest friendship I have ever known. For me, best friendship in marriage looks just the way it sounds. My husband is my partner in fun, personal goals, creative projects, lazy days, difficult days, and spiritual growth. What matters to him matters to me because he is my best friend.”
“Best friends know how to make the best out of the time they share which is why you should marry your best friend,” says marriage.com in “Should You Marry Your Best Friend? “Married people experience better health, higher levels of life satisfaction, and overall a more fulfilling life, as many studies have demonstrated. But these effects of being hitched are even more prominent among those who marry their best friends.” According to this post, we should tie the knot with our bestie because they know us the best, we share common values with them, we can communicate well with them, we know how to have fun with them, and we know how to enjoy the time we spend with them.
Best friend connections are often the basis for the balanced love relationships described above (the gift basket metaphor). Since there are so many things about them that we love and appreciate, we may not recognize our physical attraction for them at first compared to someone we share only bio-chemistry with.
The established, committed relationships represented by best friends turned romantic partners are to be distinguished from casual “friends with benefits.” Friends with benefits may have none of the desired qualities or sustainable characteristics of best friend relationships.
Balanced Love Brings True Compatibility
So, in order to establish a healthy, sustainable romantic partner relationship — like a marriage — we need to love someone in a broad and balanced way. The most obvious, and research-supported of these ways is a best friend relationship.
Best Friends Working Together to Help Others
Howard and Jennifer Beckman, who themselves have been married 25 years, have a best friend relationship, and together have devoted their lives to the rescue and rehabilitation of abused and neglected horses. Howard is like a big brother to me, and is also my personal Vedic astrologer. Howard and Jennifer have both mentored me in the divine sciences of vibrational healing (gem-light therapy) and Ayurvedic medicine.
During the 18 years they have selflessly committed their lives to the rescue and rehabilitation of horses, they have done so at a great personal cost. The Beckmans are among the unsung heroes of this world — living to serve people, animals, and their God — quietly doing the work behind the scenes and asking for nothing in return.
As you can imagine, caring for the environmental, nutritional, and medical needs of a large number of horses is pretty costly. With winter approaching, the need for hay and feed is increasing, as there will be no more grass at their North Carolina farm until Spring.
So my best friend and I are asking those of you who have the capacity to contribute to please donate to the Hidden Valley Equine Sanctuary and Therapy Center.
Here’s to “best friends turned life partners” working together to make the world a better place!
To learn more about the Beckmans’ work and the horses they serve, please see below. Mahalo (thank you), in advance, for your compassionate contributions! Please Share, ReTweet, or otherwise pass this post along to help support the Beckmans, the horses they care for, and the existence of healthy, balanced love relationships!
Hidden Valley Equine Sanctuary and Therapy Center
In a quiet, beautiful valley in North Carolina there is a very special, healing place where you can hear the birds sing, feel the gentle breeze rustle through the trees and the munching of horses eating grass.
A sanctuary for horses and people. A place where traumas are defeated. A place of joy, friendship, compassion, tenderness and transformation.
A safe haven where old labels are rejected, and broken lives renewed.
At Hidden Valley all our horses had once been abandoned, abused, starved, and neglected. They had experienced terrible trauma, but once at the Sanctuary they have been shown kindness and love. Over time they forgave we “Humans”, making a promise to heal the broken hearts who entered their sanctuary.
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy or EAP is a very versatile therapy, both in its format of sessions and its ability to reach a wide spectrum of clientele. No riding is required. The horses are allowed to roam free in a safe area with the client, their mental health professional and an equine professional. Clients interact freely with their horse. The horse offers a new beginning for calm communication, trust, warmth and acceptance.
Abuse victims regain their personal power, interacting with a therapy horse and learning to control their behavior in a non-violent way. PTSD, TBI and Autism Spectrum Disorder patients often communicate non-verbally with the horses. They, and the horses, see the world through the visual process, giving them an inexplicable bond. Substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety, and depression can all be treated using Equine Assisted Therapy.
Children benefit tremendously. Horses offer everyone; man, woman or child, instantaneous and direct feedback without criticism or bias, which is especially important when dealing with those who have been stigmatized by being labeled. When horses interact with humans, they do not cast a critical eye.
The broad shoulders of a horse are perfect to cling to, and cry on, releasing pent-up emotions.
As a non profit organization, we constantly need help to keep functioning as a healing center. Both for horses and people. Please help us to help them to change many lives profoundly.
Photo credit: Hidden Valley Equine Sanctuary and Therapy Center