Even if I was not naked

Your stare would penetrate me

Teaching me to receive

Your love.

(From I cannot love you if you do not love me.)

This week’s question comes from Mpho in Potgietersrus: “I saw this woman who is perfect for me. I have no idea what love is or if it even matters. I am 43 and I think I can provide her with a good home. But I was wondering if I should first find out what love really is?”

Mpho, you will get as many opinions as there are people on this planet. Love has been given so many definitions. Love is something we feel and it's personal. No two people will show their affection for a partner in the same way.

And individuals have their own unique way of registering that certain behaviours focused towards them are a display of love.

For some a love language is time, deeds, soft words, a tone of voice or something else. Registering when it is love is a subtle business.

If we go back to the beginning, it appears that relationships are a trade off of needs between people. As long as the needs exist, so does the relationship. When children come along the reason to stay together is functional and centred on responsibilities. This has nothing to do with love, but love can emerge from such a relationship if you build it.

When you feel love, especially when there appears to be no apparent need to trade, it is born in the deepest corner of your heart. There is a mysterious sense that someone sees into the deepest corner of your heart.

Maybe you are realising that this whole experience is happening exclusively inside of you. The person you think is seeing all this might feel a connection when they focus on you, but most of what you feel is a reaction to what you see about yourself; as if it is reflecting back at you on a deep level.

The tricky thing about love is that when you think that you feel love, what you experience is a part of the self “as if you are seeing it” for the first time. It is never about the person who is right for you, but about when you are ready to experience yourself through another.

Anyone can be the right one for you.

I know this might sound odd, but relationships are designed for us to know ourselves unlike anything else on this planet.

Religion can keep us asking “Who am I?” repetitively. A career can have us hone in on our skill sets until we master a part of who we are. Relationships have a reputation of being hard, and because of it, we are consistently “playing” between moments of intimacy and pulling away from everything we do not want to face. Relationships are a kind of love-and-hate thing to do with how deeply we want to be conscious about the truth of who we are.

Most of us live in a world of “who we think we are” or “who we want to be”. But we are who we are. Love shows us how much of that truth we have embraced. It is easy to measure when we look at a partner. Do we love or hate them? To which degree do we love another? To that same measure we love or hate ourselves.

Just because we choose to show affection to someone does not mean that we love them. We are only able to love another as much as we are able to love ourselves. Partners can become the object of our affection if we make them so.

What goes on inside is a completely new story. Only you can decide if love matters to you.

To know if you love someone I suggest that you answer the following questions:

Do you find her irresistibly attractive? Do you feel a new feeling with her around you? Do you have a different sexual experience every time you make love (assuming you have done this)? Are you in love with her or wish you were? Can you see a reason to become her life partner besides what you will get from the relationship over a long period?

Does she get to you inside where no one else has touched you before? Will you do for her what you have done for no other and then some?

These are questions from chapter three in my book if you want to learn more.

Maybe there is the off-chance that you already love her and did not know it. And now you know more than you did before.

Perhaps by reading this article it can help you recognise love and that it matters.

What is the answer to your question? Ask me here: www.adele-green.com/askADELE/ or listen to previously answered questions.

* Adelé Green is the author of Can You See Me Naked: Grow in a Conscious Relationship and supports transformation for women during difficult times with her coaching, writing and podcasts.

The Saturday Star