Gay Relationships: Tips for Keeping a Long-Term Relationship Fresh

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For anyone who has been in a long-term relationship, there is no single answer on how to keep the spark alive. When you first start dating someone, there is a mixed bag of emotions including butterflies, excitement, and a sense of mystery.
As time goes on, your relationship transitions to long-term status, and the initial happiness of the “honeymoon” phase can wear off. Just because you’ve been with someone for what feels like forever doesn’t mean the relationship has to become stale. The following are six practices that can enhance and maintain relationships over a lifetime:

“The Greet”: Dogs are the acclaimed experts of this practice. They know how to greet their people when coming home. With their entire bodies they demonstrate they are grateful that you are a part of their lives. It’s a key reason we become so attached to them. You don’t necessarily have to wag your tail when your partner comes home, but initiating some kind of friendly greeting can be an important ingredient in supporting your relationship.

Sex Matters: Couples that convince themselves that sex is no longer important after years of togetherness sometimes get into trouble. Sex can grow and develop just like other parts of your life together. To add spice to a sex life that has become routine you’ll need creativity. This can mean ramping up your curiosity about role-play, exploring breathing practices like tantra, or sharing your fantasies. Fantasy makes what is familiar new and exciting again. This is one aspect of relationship development that requires a spirit of fun: sexual negativity and complaining kills sex drive.

Developing You: Many couples fall into the trap of expecting their partner to fill the hole in their lives. Coupledom does not provide an escape from self-development. The truth is there is no effective long term escape from self-development. At any stage of life—even into your eighties and nineties—you need to keep growing in order to reach greater contentment.

Daily Rituals: Aim for a daily check-in. This is some version of “How was your day, honey?” Try to practice this without multi-tasking. Hide the portable electronic devices and spend a few minutes just hearing what you partner did that day. It is your job to know about some (but not all) of the seemingly insignificant details of your partner’s office gossip, health issues, and favorite pop culture references. A “check-in” is a part of my daily practice. As Oscar Wilde said: “Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.”

Boundaries = Closeness: Everyone needs time alone. You need some friends and activities that are yours and that are not always experienced with your partner. Sometimes you may need to shut the door, put on the earphones, or go for a walk by yourself in the neighborhood. It is okay to “go away” for a while, as long as you commit to authentically coming back later.

Keep Talking: As humans, the key method we have to repair hurts is communication. If you are not a “good communicator” then now may be a time to start learning. Communication is a skill that can be learned, just like knitting or skiing—it just takes instruction and practice. 

Ultimately what keeps long term relationships strong is paying attention to the emotional bond between you. The work of fostering emotional intimacy—which means feeling free to share your feelings without fearing rejection—can be supported by experimenting with some of the practices outlined here.

Have you found the right one, or are you still searching?



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Finding and Setting Your Moral Compass

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Our greatest struggle in life isn’t to find our destiny, but to preserve it. Every person is born with an intuitive sense of who they are and how they feel. The trick is keeping those who convince us otherwise from interrupting the groove, and that’s easier said than done.

We all want something in life. For a lot of people it’s not enough to have their own wants and needs, but they crave to have other’s as well. It makes them feel important to interrupt the destiny of those closest to them. Because there is so much obsession over sex and power in the gay community, too many people have turned into attention whores. Surrounding ourselves with these kind of people not only makes it easier to lose our sense of direction, but it’s also a matter of time till we sacrifice our wants and needs to please the addiction of their hungry egos.
There’s a difference between wanting to please others and losing a part of yourself. For the longest time I’ve struggled with both and it wasn’t till recently I discovered my own potential. There comes a time when we all have to take a step back and ask ourselves why. Why do we feel pulled in either direction? Why are we letting ourselves feel this way? Why do we let people control our happiness? Why are we continuing this pattern?

Our true morals become blurred the more we base our self-worth on what others do. The moment someone doesn’t laugh at a joke, we’re quick to assume they don’t like us or are gossiping behind our back. When we’re left out of a conversation, we jump to conclusions and assume it was intentional. Until we begin the process of releasing our dependence from them, we will never be comfortable in our skin. The person we pride ourselves in being morphs into a new, more “accepted” prototype.
Since childhood there has been people coming into my life to test my patience. The second I let them go, another identical figure arrives. History repeats itself. I succumb to their pull, old feelings come back, my intuition tells me to runaway but I don’t, the need to be liked or “better than” is too much for me to fight, and I end up exactly where I was – confused, insecure, paranoid and lost.

One thing we all need to remember is that we’re much more alike than we are different. We all want to be remembered, admired, listened to, respected and loved. Self-esteem requires us to constantly gain our value by how others perceive us and since everyone wants high self-esteem, we’re constantly trying to compete with one another. Whoever is the Queen Bee at the moment has a higher rank, which means they have an upper hand at embarrassing or belittling people in an effort to raise their social value.
It takes courage to surpass the distractions. Staying true to ourselves is a conscious effort. It requires a firm decision to not let anyone discourage us from our true character. When our soul, personality, mind and body are traveling together, our destiny becomes clear and the minute we let someone else knock us off course, we slowly but surely hand our lives to them. It’s time we take it back.

Your moral compass is innate within you, but the real question is do you listen to it or are other people interfering? Every time you do something you know you shouldn’t be doing, go on the offense when it’s inappropriate, or try to make people feel bad in an effort to make yourself feel good, you create a collection of emotional debt that’s almost impossible to pay back. Listen to what you have to say. Trust me, you’re always going to be right.

Have you found the right one, or are you still searching?

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Can You Ever Be Friends with Your Ex? Yes or No?

I often get letters from men asking how to go about maintaining a friendship with an ex-partner after they’ve broken up, and this is no easy endeavor. But it is possible! In fact, this scenario is quite commonplace in the gay community.
When some of us feel disengaged or removed from our own biological families, our friendships and lovers become families-of-choice that comprise wonderful additions to our support network of positive attachments and affiliations. They give us a sense of membership and belonging that we oftentimes may not experience within our own lineage.
What follows are some tips on how to go about navigating this tricky relationship alteration:

1. A relationship commemoration ceremony.
Immediately upon making the decision to end your intimate relationship, it’s important to conduct a “life review” of your relationship together to give it a proper sense of closure as you say goodbye to that part of your life together.
Visiting with a trained counselor to help facilitate this is recommended, but you would ultimately want to sit down with each other to talk about things like what initially attracted you to each other, what worked, what didn’t work, ways you were hurt, what you learned from being in the relationship, what you’ll miss and what you won’t, your hopes for each other, express gratitude and forgiveness to each other, and share your goodbyes in your own personal way.
This, or any other form of ending ritual, will help put your relationship in perspective and provides a solid launching pad for starting over.

2. Maintain a period of abstinence.
This is my #1 recommendation because it can be extremely difficult to downshift from “partners for life” to “just friends” immediately after a breakup.
A period of mourning is required to work through your loss before being able to look at your ex in a different light, and this is best accomplished with some time apart with no contact in order to work through those feelings without a lot of distractions and triggers that can come about from seeing each other too soon after parting from your partnership.
Every couple will be different in terms of the length of time needed to achieve this, so you’ll have to monitor your level of readiness as it evolves.

“This is the time to now define a new
lifestyle and identity for yourself.”


3. Ease back into contact.
When you resume contact, go slow! It’s probably best initially to avoid alone time in those special private settings (like your home) and start out by hanging together with other friends in group contexts.
Gradually desensitize one-on-one exposures in private settings and always check in with each other to see how you’re feeling and to discuss any triggers that might get activated.

4. Set clear boundaries.
Set some emotional parameters from the onset in terms of topics of discussion, places to meet and behaviors that would be deemed acceptable vs. off limits to help you in redefining this new relationship with each other.
Revisit these boundaries as time goes by as there will likely come a time when they can be loosened.

5. Live a full life on your own terms.
Now that you’re single again, this is the time to now define a new lifestyle and identity for yourself.
Throw yourself into purposeful activities, begin dating again when you’re ready, hang out with your friends. Avoid spending significant amounts of time with your ex because now is the time for you to begin moving forward and reaching toward your new vision and goals.

Negotiate your time with him so it doesn’t monopolize your energies and sabotage your independence and progression toward what you want out of life next. You’ll be great!







Have you found the right one, or are you still searching?

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How to Differentiate Between Love and Friendship


Question: I have been out of the dating scene for 10 years after having been in a long-term relationship for that length and it has since ended. I find it difficult being back on the singles’ market. I currently find myself in a strange situation; I have met a guy through the Internet. On our “first date”, I set the context of our encounter by saying that I thought from having left a long-term relationship that it was important for me to be friends and to be interdependent rather than codependent as was my previous experience. So now seven weeks have passed, we’ve been on a number of dates, but haven’t kissed. I am waiting for him to make a move. I’m fearful and I don’t want to ruin anything if it is meant to be a friendship, although I would like more. How long is too long to know someone before “stepping things up” and how do you decipher whether it’s a friendship or if there’s potential for a relationship?

– Daniel


Dear Daniel:
Yes, it can be quite a difficult challenge when transitioning back into the dating scene after having been in a long-term relationship for the length that you were involved in. Feeling rusty and out of practice, it can be overwhelming navigating through those waters again, particularly with the difficulties inherent in finding compatible matches. Not only this, you’re likely still going through a grieving process over the loss of your 10-year relationship even though you initiated the breakup. So my first bit of advice to you is to relax and breathe! There’s no rush and it’s a process you have to go through. Becoming preoccupied with the dating challenges will only serve to frustrate you and create more angst and desperation that could sabotage your efforts to find healthy dating partners.

Being new to the scene again and wanting “to do it right the first time around” is commendable and it sounds like you’ve done your homework by realizing the importance of pacing and taking things slow. There does need to be a balance with this, however, otherwise many men will perceive a lack of interest if the signals aren’t expressed that you’re interested. This new guy you’re dating sounds like someone you’re intrigued with and would like to see developing into more than “just friends.” While going slow is important, you want to beware of over-thinking it and communicating it too much to the guy you’re seeing. My concern is that it’s possible your guy may have interpreted your statement on the first date of being friends and interdependent as a barrier you put up towards getting close.
Try to be mindful of ways you may be projecting your past relationship mistakes onto new dating encounters. It’s important in the early stages of dating that you make the contacts light and gradually build in more self-disclosure as you screen the person to determine their suitability; this way, your disclosures match the level of intimacy that’s developed in your progressive meetings with your new dating partner. It’s possible your statements may have come across as “too heavy” and your guy may have interpreted what you said in such a way that now your relationship with him is defined as purely a friendship because that may be what he thought you were surmising. After two months with no movement, that may be the case. But don’t fret, my friend! All is not lost! It’s also very possible that he, too, shares your interest, but is waiting for you to make the first move because of what you said and he’s letting you be in control of the pacing since you expressed the need initially.

If you’re truly interested in cultivating a relationship beyond friendship with him, then the only way to accomplish this is for you to take the lead and directly express your interest and desires either verbally or through a kiss or some other affectionate gesture that breaks away from the purely “friendship behaviors” that have been exhibited thus far. Only you can decide if that’s what’s right for you; but if you do choose to let him know how you truly feel, I’d do it quickly! Don’t let anymore time pass by! The more time that the two of you invest in each other functioning as you are now, the more your relationship will be defined as “just friends” because any romantic chemistry that existed will diminish over time and he will only view you through the lens of being a pal.

It’s not easy taking the initiative and putting yourself in a position of risk. You will need to decide if he matches your personal requirements for a partner thus far and if the benefits of making your feelings known outweigh the potential costs of making yourself vulnerable. And when you’re dating, let things evolve naturally and address the issues as they come. It’s important to have boundaries, but try to avoid setting them up so high that there’s no way to let a relationship grow. Being friends and having separate identities are extremely important for the health of a partnership, so you’re right on for identifying these values as prime for you. But rather than “throwing it all out on the table” within the first few dates by communicating that, perhaps just pace the speed of how things are going by expressing your needs and feelings as they come in the various situations you’ll find yourself in. Your guy will get the hint. For example, if you’ve gone out on a few dates with someone and he starts giving you hints that he wants to have sex, you could say something like, “I really like you a lot, but I’d like to take things a little slower and get to know each other better first. I’m really attracted to you though, just please be patient.” Hone your flirting skills, pay attention to body language and eye contact, and assess the guys’ responsiveness to you as clues to a dating partners’ interest. And even when going slow, it’s still important to throw signals of attraction and interest to keep the fires burning and to keep each other validated.

I wish you luck with this! What do you really want from this guy…a friend or a potential boyfriend? Whatever you decide, go for it and address any fears that may be holding you back. Be the chooser, be assertive! And no matter what happens, the one thing that won’t change is that a friendship has already been established and that’s one more person to add to your support network. My fingers are crossed for you!






Have you found the right one, or are you still searching?
 
Join a gay dating site where you can meet single guys from any town or city. Rely instead on Gay Dating Solutions to do the work for you!
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Knowing The Difference: Like Versus Love


I have dated party boys, ivy-league boys, model boys, even just plain… boys.  But when it comes to “like,” I have a plethora of experiences. For many single gay men, finding love is like chasing a dream. It’s hard to confuse love with sexual tension or even a really heavy amount of “like.” The difference between like and love is a murky one. It’s like asking someone if their cup of tea is sweet enough. How do you know it’s sweet enough? How does one truly know? Who defines “enough” of anything?

I used to think that love was merely a result of a whole lot of like, but as I’ve gotten older I’m starting to realize it’s anything but. Lots of gay men fantasize about love. More often than not it includes marriage, kids, and a golden retriever. It’s this image we crave, but little do we realize the long term efforts we must put into it. Love is a commitment. It takes more than just liking someone. It’s the willingness to change the course of your life.
My grandparents, for example, have been together over fifty years. On Christmas day I asked my grandmother what her definition of love was, and you know what she said? “A decision.” It was then I realized that love is more than just a feeling. It’s the decision of devoting yourself to a man every single day, through the good and bad, even when you don’t like them at times. In order to make this kind of decision, it needs to be with a person who is worth everything you have to offer.

Liking someone takes a hell of a lot less effort than love. I’m very much “in like” with this hunky Australian barista at my favorite coffee shop, but I’m also “in like” with my personal trainer. “Liking” is secondary to love, but that’s not to say it isn’t essential to it. In fact, it’s the building block towards love. For some it’s a quick journey, but for many it’s a slow process. Because being “in like” is so available, it’s also fickle. It’s easy to say goodbye to someone you like. Why? Because you believe there are others out there who are better.
Love isn’t fickle. It’s choosing to be with someone despite their baggage, morning breath, bad cooking skills, bed head and all, and still devoting your time. It’s acceptance, understanding, patience, friendship and above all, trust. Trusting that your partner will never leave you no matter what happens is the most basic foundation of commitment.

There are always going to be guys who are more attractive, even more compatible, than he might be. This is the real difference between like and love. If other men have the power to sway you away, chances are, you were never in love in the first place. Temptation is always going to be there, but those who’ve made the choice of “love” have made a commitment, not just a feeling. That commitment is psychologically tied to a subliminal attachment called LOVE.
When you really like someone, it’s easy to think it has the potential to grow into love. But one of the most important things everyone needs to understand is that true love takes time. True like doesn’t. Never be scared to like someone because you’re scared of love. Liking is supposed to be fun because it’s fickle. If you’ve never had that experience before it will be much harder to recognize love when it finally arrives.

So gay guys, “like” your little heart away! Trust me. When you meet someone worthy of love, you will finally have something to compare it to. That’s when you will be able to tell the difference to understand that this guy is different from all the rest.






Have you found the right one, or are you still searching?
 
Join a gay dating site where you can meet single guys from any town or city. Rely instead on Gay Dating Solutions to do the work for you!
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Starting Over: Falling In Love Again

It’s hard to accept when a relationship has ended, and it’s even harder to let someone go. In the fall of 2014, I had broken up with my boyfriend of seven years, and after months of solitude and grief, I was convinced that I was incapable of falling in love again.

My friend Gilbert took me to a party at the Griffin in the Meatpacking District in an effort to help me meet new guys. I entered the party reluctantly. I had been to many gay parties in Manhattan, but never as a single man. Manhattan is a different world when you’re single, and I was afraid. I could not see myself as one of the shirtless gladiatorial bodies on the risers, dancing with his arms flung to the ceiling. But the martinis did their trick, as they always do, and by the end of the night, I had found myself on the dance floor, shirtless (though not gladiatorial), with my lips pressed up against another boy’s. Who this boy was I don’t remember. But an interesting revelation occurred to me as we kissed: I could kiss another boy and not fall in love. It was a fact that must have been so painstakingly obvious to everyone at the Griffin, and perhaps to the boy I was kissing, but not to me until that moment.
After I left the Griffin and was on the A train heading uptown to some other party, I remember believing I could partake in the Manhattan dating scene and not get emotionally invested. I had seen the mistakes that my friends often made, how neurotic they’d become over unanswered text messages, and how they’d wonder endlessly why the cute guy from the gym had blocked them on Grindr. All that had seemed so petty compared with the pangs of building a life with someone.

You see, I was in a curious position after my ex and I separated. I had been through relationship war and was now disillusioned. I didn’t want carriage rides in Central Park, nor did I even want to go on a second date. I’d already done all that. As far as I was concerned, love was now reserved for those who hadn’t suffered a seven-year relationship.
So I dated. I met men at bars, on the Subway, on Grindr, and even at work. It seemed that everywhere I went, I could strike up a conversation with a man and we’d be on a date the following night, no strings attached. This trend continued for months. Eventually, however, I met a man named Mickey at some place or another, and he put a halt to this trend.

For our first date, Mickey took me out for drinks at the Empire Hotel because, as he sold it, Gossip Girl was filmed here. I failed to be impressed as I went through the hotel’s revolving door, and I mentioned to him that I didn’t watch Gossip Girl.
We sipped lychee martins, his drink of choice, and I listened as he told me about his brother’s bachelor party in Atlantic City (an event he called one of the best night of his life) and his adventures as a former political staffer.
The waitress came by to see if we wanted another round, and he replied, “If I’m lucky he’ll stick around for another drink.”
I did, and something happened in between the rounds of lychee martins, something that is easy to spot in movies, in books, and even on television shows. It’s the precise moment when the hero falls in love.

Mickey kissed me, and I was naive enough to think that the kiss would have no consequences. With that first kiss I imagined possibilities with him: I saw us dating, going to expensive dinners, and coordinating a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Halloween costume. This sort of magical thinking seemed innocent at the time, but it would be my undoing.
That night we walked to his apartment, which was located on 72nd Street, right by the Dakota. The Dakota is important to mention because I had not seen it in the years that I’d been living in Manhattan. When I was growing up, my dad spoke about the Dakota as if it were myth, because it was the site of John Lennon’s death, an event I found particularly arbitrary until my junior year of high school, when Dad refused to let me read The Catcher in the Rye because of its role in Lennon’s death.
I confronted Dad, arguing that I couldn’t pass my English class without reading the book. Dad took a moment and recounted where he was on the evening that Lennon died. He had been watching Monday-night football, the New England Patriots vs. the Miami Dolphins, when Howard Cosell had abruptly interrupted the game to announce Lennon’s death.
“It was the day my youth ended,” he told me. “I had lost my innocence.”

I continued seeing Mickey after the first date. Our dates were always at his apartment, ordering in from Dinastia China and talking about the day’s events, news and our interests.
Mickey had a glass cabinet in his living room. It was large and antiquated and housed keepsakes from all his life adventures. He showed me some of the keepsakes. Two in particular stood out to me. One was a napkin from a flight attendant who had written her number on it.
“I was unshaven and wearing a cap,” he said proudly, “and she thought I was straight.”
The other was a photo him and Hillary Clinton, hand in hand, smiling. The photo wasn’t staged. It was candid, and Hillary was holding on to him like he was a trusted companion.
I asked why he kept the napkin. What was so significant about a random girl thinking he was straight? He laughed, carefully placing the napkin back in the cabinet, and said, “Don’t read too much into things.”
The last night we spent together, I brought him tulips for his birthday and finally told him I liked him.
“You say that too much,” he replied, reluctantly accepting the flowers.
I had never outwardly told him I liked him, but I could see where my feelings were loud and clear. It was obvious just in the way I looked at him and how I teased him about his rosy lips.
I had also brought him a book that night. The book was Jon Stewart’s Earth. I was working for the publisher, and my department had designed the ePub. It was my first time working on such a high-profile book, and I hoped it would rest somewhere between the napkin and the Hillary Clinton photo in the cabinet.
Mickey held the book, weighing it in the palm of his hand, before placing it on his table.
We didn’t order Chinese that night.

In the morning I didn’t leave his neighborhood as quickly as I should have. Instead I stood in front of the Dakota, sipping an iced coffee, observing that the torches at the entrance were powered by light bulbs rather than actual fire. I realized in that moment that I had fallen in love with a man who would never love me back.
I never saw Mickey again. His choice. And on the nights when the Empire State Building was gold or pink or orange — really, it didn’t matter what color it was, because all the nights eventually blurred into one — I would listen to Christina Aguilera’s “Walk Away” on my iPod, hop over the subway grating, and try to recapture the same foolish arrogance I once possessed. But I couldn’t. I had gone through that revolving door at the Empire Hotel a pessimist and come out a believer again.

I owe a lot to Mickey. I have a better understanding of relationships because of him. He taught me the dangers of loving someone for who I think they are vs. who they actually are, a lesson that has aided me in both love and friendship to this day.
So who was Mickey from 72nd Street by the Dakota, really? I’m not quite sure. But if there was another lesson I took away from my time with him, it was to let it go and not read too much into it.





Have you found the right one, or are you still searching?
 
Join a gay dating site where you can meet single guys from any town or city. Rely instead on Gay Dating Solutions to do the work for you!
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Are You Giving Up On Love?

Love has become a constant search.


There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to question what devotion actually is. People are getting married way later than they used to, which means there are more young singles roaming the earth than ever before. Being single myself, I watch countless of guys holding hands or slowly starting to plan their families, and I become bitter – when can it be my turn?
I’m still the guy without a date on Saturday nights. While I’d like to think a night of binge watching Netflix is productive (you can learn a lot from documentaries), I’m afraid it’s become unproductive in regards to my love life. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about other single gay guys like me, it’s that we are all searching for the same thing in the wrong places. Eventually, we give up on the idea and assume it’s just not written in the stars for us.

Lately I’ve begun to question the idea of love. I meet a guy I click with, we have a great couple of dates, I think things might lead somewhere, and, like clockwork, it never does. I’m left with questions and endless coulda-woulda-shouldas. While I try my best to find the “lesson” I’m supposed to learn, frankly there are none to have. Sometimes uneventful things happen to the nicest of people while great things happen to not-so-nice people. But even now as I’m looking back on all the idiots I’ve dated in past years, I realized I have learned something: Love is recyclable.
I know love exists because I always find another version of it. Every time a fling doesn’t work out, I worry that I’ll never find another one. It always comes as a surprise when I do (sooner than I expect). But it’s a newer, different kind from before. Are single gay guys burying their face in their hands because they’re always looking for one kind of “love”?

I’m not done with love yet, because I know love comes in all sorts of packages and inside each one are the same feelings: value, worthiness, exclusivity. We want to go to bed next to a man who we know loves us more than any other human being in the world, who, no matter what, will always have our back, who, no matter the opinion, will support us in the things we want to do. He’s ours, all ours, and we’re his. We search for this kind of thing all our lives and if we get anything less than expected, we come to the consensus that it was all bullshit anyway. Instead of looking for practical signs a man is giving, I think we ought to be listening to how his love makes us feel. That, in my opinion, is the real compass to finding the fairy tale.
It’s these feelings of love we long to have, not the arm candy. Whenever we’re in our deepest depression, we want someone to lift us up by reminding us how beautiful we are to him, how valuable he thinks we are, how amazing and wonderful he still thinks we are. We want this, but we’re also impatient because we want it now.

If you’ve ever thought you were done with love, don’t be. Instead, be done with searching for love. The search alone is tiring and troublesome after a while because once you start searching you’re eventually going to find any type of love that shoots your direction. Most of it isn’t going to be genuine, but you’ll always find it because you were consciously looking. If you didn’t find something, then the search would have been pointless – and that would depress you even more.
Be careful what you search for because you’re almost always going to find a watered down, artificial version of it. You’re most likely never going to be satisfied with what you get. I say, don’t be done with love. Resonate in it. Sit in it. Drink it. Feel it. Pass it along. You’ll soon discover the kind of love you’ve been searching for comes up in the most unexpected circumstances.





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