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Day 98: The Ultimate Task

“For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.” -Rainer Maria Rilke

The relationship lessons in our life don’t change much over time. Even as I grow and mature, the places that break down in our relationships only seem to become more familiar to me. The inevitable imbalances that make the dance of relating so interesting, yet challenging all at once, describe every relationship at some point. We all suffer from wanting too much or getting too little. Expectations are often disguised as needs, or vice versa; the ways that we miss each other have as many faces as we do, but the underlying story is the same for all of us.

The pain we feel in loving people is the pain of being alive and it is a wound that never fully heals. The truth of loving people and the strength and courage that it develops in us is worth every moment of discomfort. Loving people is skill based, which means that it is developmental and that you can improve with practice. Getting over the idea that your relationship shouldn’t bring you pain or discomfort is a very healthy foundation for trying to stay in the game.

Once you give up the idea that love is only a gentle, easy place you have the opportunity every day to witness the vast differences we have in how we perceive and process the same experiences. Despite the hardships that love may bring, it is enough merely to love someone. If you can love someone even when it hurts or when they don’t meet your exact expectations, the loving itself is good enough. Although we may disagree and perceive experiences very differently, the pleasure and pain of loving another, is at the very least, universal.