Love content is a staple in spiritual social media spheres. Twin flame tarot readings, crystals to attract love, love spells ranging from candles to aphrodisiacs to classic potions. Clickbait titles promising to help you manifest your ex back or make your partner faithful or call in your soulmate in just a few simple steps. Although it’s never that simple, is it?
It’s not wrong to want to love or to want to be loved. Human beings are wonderfully wired to seek connection to each other; renowned author and psychotherapist Virginia Satir said humans need at least four hugs a day for survival. We’re programmed to yearn for affection and tenderness, so it’s no surprise that spiritual salves are offered to those yearning for love.
The catch is that the visions of love that are sold to us in exclusive relationship manifestation masterclasses or similar expenditures is that they can eclipse the greater reality of what love can be in our lives. Love is bigger than romance. Romance isn’t encapsulated solely by relationships. Relationships are deeper than what you’re shown online. In the interest of keeping everything bite-sized and compartmentalized for convenience, we end up with a shallower understanding of these radical, transformational ideas. Maybe we even become cynical, thinking that the silly, fluffy world of love, romance, and relationships is made for lucky people on Instagram and heartwarming jewelry store advertisements.
Let me tell you a story: when I was young, I was a voracious reader. I spent hours at the library with my mother and sister, books piled up to my chin to be devoured within the week. I read everything I could get my hands on. The classics, niche nonfiction, encyclopedia articles–once, during the waiting period after a standardized test, I read through the dictionary (and taught myself morse code).
Nothing held my interest like fiction; I was enticed by the way that draping a scenario in specific descriptions could make even the dullest or saddest moment picturesque. I loved how fantastical the stories were, and how they could saturate my imagination in ways that movies or TV shows couldn’t contest.
I read mostly self-help books for a few years, then literature for school, then nothing at all (save for a few metaphysical studies). That was up until a few months ago, when I caught myself feeling dull, yearning for more love in my life, and I picked up a romance novel.
I felt silly about it at first because I thought I was supposed to, like I’d let my tastes slip from distinguished and inspirational readings to something vapid, lacking substance. I’d slink down into the park bench when I read outside on my breaks, obscuring the tiles from view in the back room. When I got caught with one, I smiled in that distinctly girlish chagrin, nervous that people would think I was fatuous or ditzy or lonely for liking something that was made with me in mind as the target demographic. Sometimes it seems like women are made to feel ashamed for liking love or romance–I guess that’s part of the appeal of those tiny mass-market paperbacks, that they’re small enough to hide. I was embarrassed for a reason I couldn’t quite place to be associated with romance novels; I guess I didn’t want people to think I still believed in fairytales like.
Ironically, the thing that gets me about romance novels is that they let love tint the world pink for a little bit. Not full on rose-colored glasses, but life tinged with happiness and hope even in moments that seem difficult and heart wrenching. All the rawness of circumstance and change, just in beautiful framing. This is part of what love and romance can do, it can make the hard moments worth experiencing. It can make the wilderness of emotion bearable, and make life as a whole feel sweeter and richer.
Some people will tell you that love is tough and ugly, and that relationships are nothing but endless toiling, but everything we love asks something of us. If you love the sunrise, you’ll have to wake up early to see it. If you love concerts, you’ll shell out extra bucks for good seats. If you love another person, they will want you to see them and know them and want them regardless—if you love yourself, it’ll be the same thing. You could see this as needless sacrifice, or you could see it as moving with the energy of love, and making choices that increase the flow of love in your life. When I love you, I’ll do what I can to make your life more wonderful. That’s simply the principle of it. (And if your relationships feel like a draining uphill battle, there’s something in need of adjustment—don’t let that become your normal.)
When I started leaning into this idea of wanting to walk in love and to experience the romance of the moment, the world lit up again. When you see something for the good that lies in it, a fondness grows, and love grows from that fondness. Working with this energy of love asked me to open my heart, and to soften it. I saw pockets of love and beauty hidden in the mundane. Even moments like standing in line at the grocery had a certain wistfulness to them, a magic lingering in the mist over the produce or the idle conversation of the family in front of me.
The real changes followed shortly after. The romantic relationships in my life are revived with a passion they haven’t seen in years, and my friendships feel just as intimate and meaningful as any fling could be. Beyond that, I feel excited about life. No bells and whistles to it, I’m just happy to be here.
If you want to hone in on the energy of love and add romance back to your life, here are three simple starters:
- Saturate your mind with love. Talk about it, think about it. Contemplate what love would do in each moment and follow the answer whenever you can. You might feel called to lend extra compassion to a stranger, or to sit and hold space for a friend going through a hard time. If you choose to use media, pick things that are high-quality and feel good to experience. Romance novels are my pick, but movies, short films, poetry, or paintings are all great picks. Consume art that was made with love in mind.
- Broaden your scopes. Take the limits off of where you can experience love in your life. Not just in romantic or familial connections, but in nature, in solitude, in moments of overwhelm at how beautiful life can be. Love is a lifeforce energy, so it must exist in everything, and you can find it if you search for it. Ask yourself, “is there love in my life that I am not recognizing?”
- Make a list of what feels romantic to you, and really sit with each addition. These should be alienated mostly if not entirely from your specific romantic relationships, as the goal is to enhance the overall existence of romance in your life. (Think “fresh cut flowers” versus “when my boyfriend gives me flowers”).
Share your lists with me! I would adore reading them. The energy of love can unfold in your life much faster than you think.
Love love love love love,