Here was my basic bundle:
- He was willing to talk with me about anything, nothing was off-limits.
- He consistently listened to me and added his own insight.
- He was curious about me and regularly asked me questions about my family, my childhood, and my thoughts.
- When I asked him about himself, he answered my questions, never evading them.
He helped me out whenever I asked, and spent time with me when I needed company.
- He kissed me like he cared how it felt to me.
- He didn’t rush me like he had a goal to achieve.
Altogether, these behaviors showed how he valued me as a person and wanted to share himself with me, openly and honestly. Through these transparent behaviors, I learned that I can trust him.
The magical thing about falling in love with someone is that you suddenly become aware of his/her incredibly compelling, unique, and beautiful features — like the quality of her voice, the curve of his eyebrows, the way her teeth are crooked (or are perfectly straight), his gait when walking, or the way her she holds a pen — and you wonder why you’d never noticed them before. The object of your love becomes the most attractive and sexy person alive because you are emotionally attuned like you are not to anyone else.
In my case, even though I was (and still am) highly independent and self-directed, I became intensely needy for his attention. I couldn’t stop thinking about him, and probably had a big, dopey grin on my face whenever I thought about him or was with him. The times when I felt that he was distant or unaware of me were keenly painful to me.
Many of these intense needs and feelings seemed unsustainable and destined for a downward spiral of disappointment. Luckily for me, he didn’t shrink from the intensity of my feelings because he felt the same himself. He met most of my needs by sending me regular letters and visiting me, even though we had to live apart for nearly three years. For my part, as much as it thrilled me to receive his letters, I produced only infrequent love postcards, which were sufficient for him.
Over time and with his reassurance, I had to acknowledge that some aspects of my expectations were fueled by my insecurities and could not be met by another human being without driving that person crazy. At the same time, I became quite adept at noticing when he needed to be encouraged (or pushed) out of a mental and emotional rut, and always tried to help him get out of ruts.
So with no guarantee of success and without a roadmap, we fell in love (the easy part) and managed to maintain that love by:
- Consistently feeding the feelings of love with regular attention and time for each other.
- Being sensitive and responsive to each other’s needs and fears.
- Continuing to learn about each other and using that knowledge to help each other develop. This included compromising, which I define as cutting out unreasonable and useless wants/wishes, while promoting each other’s health and meeting each other’s needs.