The Forces of Sex, Eros & Love in Relationship
by Gregory Alper
There are three distinct forces that are helpful for us to understand in Relationship - Sex, Eros and Love.
Sex is the Creative Force, not only on the physical level but the same energy is used in all levels of creation, making art, music, an invention, designing a house or doing mathematics. It provides the experience of timelessness. It is the aspect of union where we reveal, become innocent and transparent on the physical level.
Confusion of Sex vs. Love
Culturally, there is a great amount of confusion between these forces, without even awareness that there are 3 distinct forces. We refer to physical intimacy as making love, but the act alone does not create love. If you consider the times you feel most loving, you will find that most often they are not connected with Sex.
If love is closeness and sharing physically - sex sometimes has elements of the opposite - it is also when we can also be most defended, "How do I look? How do I please my partner? Is my partner pleasing me?" When we are thinking about the experience we aren't in the experience.
What sex can teach us is how to attune to our partner, how to open to physical intimacy, drop barriers and resistance so that we can start to allow and explore intimacy in other areas (the mental, emotional and physical).
Eros is the sense of adventure, excitement, romance and falling in love. Eros lifts us out of selfishness, inertia, complacency, and separation into a state of seeking another, of seeking to know another, and seeking of connection with another. It is the aspect of union where we reveal, become innocent and transparent on the mental and emotional levels.
Eros is also not love, because Eros is temporary. Eros is a force that comes upon us - we are shot by cupid's arrow. Whereas love is something we need to create the conditions for. Then Love and Eros can be permanent. Eros must be used as a bridge to love. This is the key.
Love is constant state of connection and growth.
M. Scott Peck in "The Road Less Traveled, defines love as "The sincere wish for the spiritual growth and well being of Another." Pathwork defines love as "Anything that furthers unity, inclusion, expansion, union, that realizes the benign nature of the universe is love and perpetuates love." It is the aspect of union where we reveal, become innocent and transparent on the soul and spiritual level.
"All you Need is Love" - but how can we do this? Our job is to learn to love, to set the intentions and conditions. We can't will ourselves to Love but we can do the work to be able to love and to clear away those misconceptions that prevent us from loving and being loving. We need to learn to love. This also deserves it's own treatment (perhaps in combination with using Eros as a bridge). A healthy intimate, love relationship must include all three forces. Then the relationship can flourish.
Eros as a bridge
We continue our exploration of Sex, Eros and Love by defining and distinguishing Eros and Love.
Eros is adventure, excitement, romance, falling in love. Eros lifts us out of selfishness, inertia, complacency, and separation into a state of seeking another, of seeking to know another, a seeking of connection with another.
Eros is not the same as love, because Eros is temporary. Eros is a force that comes upon us whereas love is something we need to create the conditions for. We need to learn to love. Then Love and Eros can be permanent.
Love is constant state of connection, growth. "Anything that furthers unity inclusion, expansion, union, that realizes the benign nature of the universe is love and perpetuates love." It is Union on the soul level. We are naked, innocent and transparent on the spiritual level.
The key is to use Eros as a Bridge to Love.
Eros lifts you into a vision of love, an understanding of what it feels like to lower our shields, to be undefended and experience a perspective beyond yourself. It draws you into greater connection, deepening emotions and allows access to latent powers within. You are naturally focused on knowing your partner, experiencing him/her, interested in his/her well-being. The key is to then consciously continue contact and interest - this healthy fascination with another. Your mission is to continually seek out this life form to want to know more and more about him/her, to continue the investment of time and energy because there is always more to know.
A person's soul has unimaginable depth and we can never know it all. There are always surprises, new vistas, new aspects and perspectives. Beyond that, a person is always changing so the experience continually deepens.
This seeking is also a gift we give to ourselves - to enjoy the re-experiencing of the other. Like listening to a favorite symphony, there are always new passages to hear, new connections to be made between themes and instruments.
This must be matched by an equal amount of courage on our part - to reveal, to drop all masks, to risk showing more and more of ourselves to the other and to experience the joy of being accepted for who we really are. This is bliss. This is love. This is what continues to deepen and never leaves.
Ask yourself in what ways you can seek out another - even if you're not in relationship. You can practice this by wanting to know more about someone else, anyone with whom we come into contact. It can be practiced through words - "How are you? What's happening? What interests you? What are your concerns? What occupies your thoughts? Or simply by observation. What is this person saying about themselves non-verbally, through dress, posture, body language, facial expression, movement or the tone of their voice? There is so much information if we are willing to look and listen.
What other ways can you imagine to learn more about another?
Conversely, what am I willing to reveal? There may be new opportunities for me to share something about myself to another. As a starting place, consider offering similar information that you asked the other in the paragraph above.
Practice these with sensitivity and discrimination as to time and place.
Learning to Love
Love is constant state of connection, growth. "Anything that furthers unity inclusion, expansion, union, that realizes the benign nature of the universe is love and perpetuates love." It is Union on the soul level. We are naked, innocent and transparent on the spiritual level."
Love is our natural state, we have learned to block it. A song from the musical South Pacific comes to mind:
You've got to be taught to hate and fear
It's got to be learned from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.
Our hearts open naturally at times when we are inspired, moved, feel a great connection with someone or are struck by the arrow of Eros. We want to be able to practice and begin to anchor this vulnerability, connection and caring.
Here is a simple question and exercise that has been helpful in learning to love.
What does love look like here?
Any time you experience disharmony, disconnection, misunderstanding, anger, hurt, etc. Ask yourself "What does love look like here? I know that I am feeling upset - but I would like to feel loving. I would like to remember what love feels like. I have temporarily reverted to my habit of fear and separation." The first step is to form the intention - I would like to again feel love.
An example of an inner dialogue might be: "This anger, sadness, hurt, isolation can't feel good - I want to feel good. I feel good when I am loving, in harmony and in connection. How do I do that?" And then ask "What would love look like here?"
In these moments there's a way to practice returning to a loving state of mind. When you've woken up to the point of having the above dialogue - and at first it may take days - visualize in your mind what you would have liked to have said or done. Give yourself a "do over." And then see if you can go to your partner, family member, friend and say "sorry, I was feeling (angry, hurt, confused, etc.) What I wanted to say/do is...." Be gentle with yourself as the realization and courage to replay may take days or longer. The work, the practice is to continually shorten the amount of time between being controlled by our reactions and the reset. In a long term relationship, the same issues will come up repeatedly, so the gift is that we will get another chance to practice.
See if you can get out of reaction sooner each time. Make it a matter of hours not days, and then minutes and not hours. Eventually you can catch it as it's occurring and then you will be able to totally transform the reaction. This practice will also end the vicious cycle of hurt and misunderstanding around a particular dynamic with your partner because you now have a way to break the pattern.
You might wonder, why is this so difficult to do with my partner? It's because you are invested so fully, because the patterns and feelings that get triggered are so deep. That is the purpose of relationship, making that level of connection! And that is also the gift of relationship - Experiencing oneness, that level of knowing the other, of seeing and being seen and the healing that can occur by cultivating the ability to love.