“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.”
– Hellen Keller
The word “lover” brings to mind a variety of emotionally stirring and erotic images: Couples locked in sensual embraces, first kisses at wedding ceremonies, torrid affairs, famous sex symbols like Marilyn Monroe or Megan Fox or Cindy Crawford. But even these ideas can be teased apart into different categories.
Attraction and desire drive many relationships, keeping them healthy and lively, and sensual love is a key element of human existence. Although other animals may mate for life, they do so for the sake of producing offspring and keeping their species alive and thriving. People may pair up and choose not to have children, and many sexual acts are committed out of lust instead of a desire to procreate. Sensuality is an essential characteristic of the Lover, and one that is universally recognized.
And, of course, romantic love is another defining aspect of the lover archetype. Countless poems and songs, books and movies have been written about the power of love and the yearnings of the heart. While sexual attraction and romantic love often go hand-in-hand, pre-teens who haven't blossomed and octogenarians who have left lovemaking behind can still experience the surges of emotion that accompany emotional love. The sweeping sentiments of romantic love inspire artists, spark relationships, and transform people's lives on a daily basis.
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
– Mother Teresa
But sensual and romantic love are just two aspects of the Lover. The most well-known, to be sure, but they are merely part of the bigger picture. Just like the Mother, the Lover is a multi-faceted archetype.
Love for others is something we're all encouraged to feel and express, but love for ourselves is more complex. Caring for our families, putting others' needs first, and acting selflessly are all widely praised. But many of us forget that unless we care for ourselves, we cannot fully love others. Think of the little speech flight attendants give before take-off: “In case of emergency, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” The Lover must love herself first in order to replenish her energetic stores, she must care for herself so that her heart can expand and her love can grow.
Now think of Mother Teresa—a mother figure, for sure, who devoted her life to caring for others. But she also exemplified love because she was a true and ardent lover of humanity who encouraged everyone she met to foster and spread love. Mother Teresa is about as far-removed from Megan Fox as you can get, yet they both channel the Lover archetype in their own ways.
In addition to the beautiful quote above, she also said: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” This woman was a lover through and through.
While researching my new book, Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife, I spoke with dozens of women who had to re-define their roles as lovers when their spouses returned home wounded. The emotional and sexual lives of these couples were turned upside-down, and many felt they were rebuilding from scratch. Finding ways to be intimate when one partner's body has been drastically altered can be frustrating and challenging. But these women tapped their inner Lovers, and found ways to make sex exciting and love fulfilling once more.
And, of course, we don’t just love one person, or one family, or one self. We love life. We love art. We love travel and nature and the big, beautiful world in which we live. We all deserve to love our own lives. So ask yourself, who are the people who bring out your playful, spirited, sensual self? And perhaps more importantly, are you spending enough time with these people? We become what we see, so who are you seeing on a regular basis?
I hope you'll tap your own inner Lover by choosing to share time with people who let you be playful and joyous in your own love affair with life.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."