A big part of love means consciously opening yourself up to your beloved and sharing with your partner from what’s best in you. This means consciously choosing and risking being vulnerable and trusting your partner and revealing yourself.
The opening up of oneself occurs relatively easily in the beginning of most romantic relationships because the euphoria of new love encourages this–sharing ourselves, opening ourselves is reciprocated and also helps to increase the mutual intoxication and euphoria of falling in love.
But as love deepens and changes from novel to familiar, it also changes from automatic to conscious and deliberate, from easy to requiring effort and attention and attentiveness. It’s similar to the difference between stumbling upon someone else’s garden and consuming/enjoying in all of the flowers and vegetables and fruits you find there, versus learning to plant and tend to a garden of your very own.
Which means consciously and deliberately choosing to open yourself up instead of waiting to be opened up.
As your beloved becomes more important to you and more and more a part of you, loving your partner means actively choosing to open yourself up to him or her instead of passively waiting for this to happen for you automatically and or because the feeling or mood strikes you.
Consciously opening yourself up to your partner means allowing yourself to be vulnerable to loss, to death, to rejection, to pain, to disappointment—to the full gamut of the risks and rewards of intimacy—which also means choosing to open yourself to the possibility of beauty, consolement, tenderness, kindness, warmth, passion that can only be found in a mutually loving relationship.
Consciously opening yourself up to your partner and the relationship also means approaching your partner and the relationship from what’s best in you.
Thus, a sizeable part of consciously choosing to open yourself to your partner and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and real means trying to remove your own inner blocks to doing this.
And this almost certainly entails courage, insight, understanding, journaling, inner work.
We all have blocks to love. The blocks are not our fault. They are relics from our past, useful in the past because they helped us survive and make sense of what was confusing, new, foreign, dysfunctional, neglectful, even abusive, even traumatic in our past. Those blocks may be useful now, or they may be intrusive, counterproductive, and not needed now. Because now that we are grown and have survived and are in a different environment, different responses may likely serve us better, as well as serve better those we love.
And because we have grown and survived, we are capable of those different responses, if necessary, if warranted.
It will be up to us consider all of this.
And it will be up to us to choose.
We can take responsibility for our own life and relationship by making the choice to open ourselves and give and receive the love that those around us have for us as well as want and desire from us. Or we try to avoid that responsibility by continuing to act from the past and trying to love those around us from behind the safety and familiarity of our blocks and relics, and in spite of our blocks and relics, and see if we are actually able to love and be loved.
“Often, when we say, ‘I love you’ we focus mostly on the idea of the ‘I’ who is doing the loving and less on the quality of the love that’s being offered.” — Thich Nhat Hanh, in “How to Love“