How to Be An Adult in Relationships: Mindful Loving

“Most people think of love as a feeling,” says David Richo, “but love is not so much a *feeling* as a way of being present.” In his book, How to Be An Adult in Relationships, Richo offers a fresh perspective on love and relationships—one that focuses not on finding an ideal mate, but on becoming a more loving and realistic person.

This post begins a series of posts in which we’ll be exploring how to love consciously, confidently and how to step into fear and not away from it. In my own life and counseling practice, I’m continually impressed with how humans (in a variety of relationships) struggle with fear and work hard to avoid it. I did some research and found practical solutions I want to share-beginning with the Five Keys to Mindful Loving from David Richo:

  1. Attention to the present moment; observing, listening, and noticing all the feelings at play in our relationships.
  2. Acceptance of ourselves and others just as we are.
  3. Appreciation of all our gifts, our limits, our longings, and our poignant human predicament.
  4. Affection shown through holding and touching in respectful ways.
  5. Allowing life and love to be just as they are, with all their ecstasy and ache, without trying to take control.

Applying these “Five A’s” forms the basis of mature love. They allow us to move away from judgment, fear, and blame to a position of openness, compassion, and realism about life and relationships. By giving and receiving these Five A’s, relationships become deeper and more meaningful, and they become a ground for personal transformation.

But, how to put these Five A’s into effect? Here are some practical ways you can apply the Five A’s:

  1. Attention: when your mate/sister/besty phones you, don’t multitask. Don’t drive, don’t do the dishes, just sit down and listen. I know this advice flies in the face of everything we do these days, however it’s the only true way to be present. Besides, multitasking is a  myth.
  2. Acceptance: When we wake up tired, are late to work and maybe haven’t finished that report the boss wanted yesterday, we can take a deep breathe, acknowledge we’re feeling frustrated and just sit with that for a moment. We don’t have to beat ourselves up, or say we suck…. We just have accept that we’re human and will do better next time.
  3. Appreciation: We all have issues with our mothers. Try for a moment accepting that your mother did the best she could, with what she had available at the time, in the best of circumstances. Imagine her as a young mother just trying to make it work. Take a deep breath, see her in your minds eye and accept and appreciate her. Now, make it real by phoning her and telling her what you just did.
  4. Affection: This is a tricky one. Affection is often passed down within families and people’s needs around affection vary wildly. A simple kiss and a hug may satisfy one lover, only to infuriate another lover. Affection is one of those things that actually has to be discussed. I had a girlfriend once who was the most gracious and generous lover, but *hated* to be hugged. There was just something awkward and weird about it for her. So, we always kissed hello instead. Sounds odd, but it totally worked. Ask your lover how she prefers to be affectionate and see if you two can’t find a common ground.
  5. Allowing: This too is a tricky one. We all try and control everything. The truth is, control is an illusion. Sometimes, our lovers do things we hate, our families disappoint us and our lives don’t turn out the way we expect. Allowing our lives to take their course and swaying with the changes is working *within* life, not trying to *control* it.

These are only some of the ways you use the Five A’s in gaining deeper connections in your relationships. There are countless more and we’re just getting started in exploring them. We’d love to hear ways they may have helped you. Comment on this post or share on our Facebook page.


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