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Words by Caitlin Johnstone

True romance is what happens when two people turn and face each other and decide at the same time to pour everything they’ve got into growing more and more intimate with each other in more and more ways, every single day, for as long as life allows them to.

To grow more and more intimate with someone means continually finding new parts of each other to fall in love with. Normally people hide huge parts of themselves from themselves and from other people. True romance means continually finding new ways to coax those hidden bits out of hiding so that they can be loved.

There is no limit to how far this can go, because there is no limit to any human being. A human being is vast. A human being is backless. A human being is bottomless. There is no limit to how far and how deep we can go in exploring another person and loving everything we discover. This means that it’s possible to continue falling in love forever.

Falling in love isn’t something you do once and then it’s done, and then you say later on “Oh we fell in love 20 years ago and now we’re married and we’ve got two kids and someday our mortgage will be paid off if we’re still alive” or whatever. Saying you “fell in love” at one particular time is just saying that you experienced the invitation to true romance at one point in time, but one or both of you chickened out. True romance means falling, and falling, and falling, and falling. There’s no reason for it to stop other than someone slamming on the brakes for some reason.

Most people slam on the brakes at the earliest sign of true romance. This is perfectly understandable. True romance is terrifying.

True romance is terrifying because humans fought their way to the top of the food chain by becoming the most successful apex predators in the history of terrestrial life, only to look around and find ourselves surrounded by a bunch of big, scary apex predator humans. We’ve got all kinds of defenses up against other humans because we’re all a little bit worried we might start biting each other at any second, and now here’s this other human who wants you to take off all your armor so that you can get as close to each other as possible.

True romance is terrifying because you are giving everything you have to an impermanent being that will someday be wiped off the face of the earth, and that is going to hurt so much. That’s going to hurt more than ripping your own limbs off. That’s a for sure thing, and every step towards your loved one, every time you remove some armor, every time you get more vulnerable, it’s just setting you up for it to hurt even worse in the future.

True romance is terrifying because if you don’t give your everything now, and one day the witness of your being is ripped from your arms and disappears into the void forever, then you will always regret not giving your everything while you had the chance. You will always regret not getting more naked and falling more in love while they were here to receive that and reflect it back to you. You will wish you’d loved them more.

True romance is for suckers, because suckers are gullible, suckers are trusting. When two suckers get together, they innocently and enthusiastically hand over everything they probably shouldn’t without guile and without manipulation, and that’s when the magic happens. Two people throwing everything they have at each other creates a kind of free energy system, a toroidal current of joy that feeds off itself and increases itself and courses through the both of them, inspiring them and uplifting them to greater and greater heights.

True romance is when someone gets really curious about someone and they want to know everything, while at the same time, that someone gets really curious about them and they want to know everything too. Even the bad stuff, even the ick, even the cringey secret shameful critters that hide in our mind caves and cause mischief without ever being seen. The idea is that one day, that someone will somehow find his way through your forest of defenses and walk right in, and stand right inside your mind cave and have a really good look around and say, “Yes, I like what you’ve done with the place,” and you will say “Gosh, really? I never let anyone in here, it’s such a mess!” and they will say “It’s messy but it’s beautiful,” and then they will pick you up and lay you gently on a pile of your broken dreams and kiss you softly and you will relax for the very first time since maybe you were a baby or something.

True romance is terrifying because it means not just allowing your most hidden parts to be loved, but having to love them yourself. Because you quickly find that if you try to allow someone to love a part of yourself that you’re still rejecting, that’s just more armor, more invulnerability, more separation. You’re trying to hold them at arm’s length and say, “Oh well it’s fine for you to love that disgusting, shameful part of me if you want to do that on your own time I guess,” which is just a rejection of their love, a rejection of true romance. It stalls the whole thing out unless you learn to love yourself how your other loves you.

True romance is terrifying. It’s also the best thing in the world. People try to replicate it with fake imitations which allow them to feel loved without any of the risk or vulnerability, but nothing comes close to the genuine article. Nothing.

You can’t force true romance to happen in your life; the seed will land when it’s ready to land, and you have no control over when and if that happens. The only thing you have control over is making sure that when the seed lands, it lands on fertile soil. This means exorcising your inner demons, healing your inner wounds, overcoming your fears and illusions and that sense of unworthiness we all struggle with on some level and learning to love yourself as deeply as possible, so that when your other finally meets your gaze and you stare at each other into the bottomless depths of an infinite adventure, you can keep your gaze unbroken and say, “Oh! It’s you. I’m ready. Let’s go.”

Nothing can make true romance happen, but once it’s happening there’s nothing in the world that can stop it. There is no more powerful force on this earth. If just a few more people plunged into true romance with reckless abandon, it could very easily save the world.

Humans are bottomless, and we’ve got so much potential that hardly any of us have even begun to explore yet. We keep vast tracts of our own consciousness hidden from ourselves. All it takes is one intrepid explorer willing to love everything they find before your long-forgotten treasures start revealing themselves to the astonishment of both of you. And if you do that for them, too, then you have yourselves an astonishment factory where miracles can happen. And miracles do happen. I swear on my life they do.

This article was originally published here.


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