One of the most beautiful experiences we can have is the opportunity to love. Love is something we can all feel but this doesn’t mean we know how to do it well. Love takes practice. Love takes presence. And love takes two people willing to grow and learn love together.

If you are lucky enough to have someone like that on a journey of love with you, you are fortunate indeed. But rarely does the right person, ripe and ready to grow in love, just plop into our laps. And this is part of the learning: Love must be cultivated in the presence of awareness.

What I mean is that we often have magical fantasies that love will appear without having to say anything. We fantasize that it will just happen without actually asking for love – asking for what we need, asking the person we are with what they need, exploring, through transparent communication, the wonderful and sometimes scary realm of the heart.

It takes courage to step beyond the fantasy of love just happening and take up the mantle of becoming present to what love does.

Love in an incredibly transformative force. And in a society that perpetuates the myth that you can “get there” by yourself, we are often blind to the opportunities love brings for us to blossom at the hands of another.

This is what makes love such a risky proposition – that we don’t allow for the fact that we can only get so far by ourselves – that we need another person to fully become who and what we are. There is a lot of shame in our culture, shame about need and shame about caring.

This shame is often what is getting in the way of love being able to fully do its thing in our innermost hearts.

We really need to surface what love does through conscious communication with the person we are with. We need to talk about love itself, not just our feelings for each other. We need to talk about the ways love is changing us, what it stirs up, how hard it is to be love given the baggage and conditioning and fears we all have.

In this way we begin a journey of partnership where we are not so focused on the relationship as the thing we are seeking to concretize, but we are, instead, focused on a friendship, a camaraderie, of going on a journey together that can bond us with another person way more than romance and grocery shopping possibly could.

In fact, teaming up around how love changes us and agreeing to share, transparently, with our person, the process of our own becoming lays a foundation that makes the romance and the grocery shopping magical.

Being present to love is a condition of allowing ourselves to be truly seen and truly known. And we can talk about what conditions we want to do this in.

For instance, we can create an agreement that we will hold space for transformation and not give up or leave too soon as either we or our person undergo the inevitable twists and writhings that love makes as it penetrates and heals our wounds.

None of us really come to the love table knowing how to do love. And many, many people leave the unfolding of a relationship to random chance and this dooms it to failure or, at the very least, to being sub-par.

What brings security in love is knowing we are seen and celebrated for who we really are. And so much of how people actually do love is by hiding a lot of this and “putting their best face forward”.

You don’t have to let it all hang out but sharing when you are triggered by something – without blame or manipulation and without having the answer or solution – is a way of creating real intimacy and it gives another person an opportunity to show up for us and this gives us the experience of learning how to let another person be there, inside our tender spaces. Talk about building real trust!

Many people I have worked with tell me they can’t do this kind of love. What they are really saying is they can’t imagine that anyone could really love them if they were so transparent. They are also saying they have little faith that someone else can love that much.

We carry so many wounds around love that love requires great courage and a degree of maturity to cultivate with another.

It can be terrifying to be real. But with conscious communication and an agreement to practice love together we can create a compassionate container to practice in.

And we need practice. A lot of practice. And we can’t practice all by ourselves. Well, we can, but it’s not nearly as potent.

If you are involved with someone, even if it’s early on, you can have a conversation about what kind of love experience they want and you want. See what lines up and find out, talk about, and explore how you can creatively show-up for each other and consciously create the experience you both want to have.

It may be that one of you wants to explore your own sexuality in a way that feels scary because maybe you are kinky and you haven’t had a chance to explore that. Or maybe you want to become a singer and it scares you and you want support and encouragement and discuss what that looks like and see if your person is willing to offer some of that to you in the way that you find meaningful and potent.

Being present to love is a matter of a) sharing what we are going through inside – a kind of pulling back the curtain and letting someone witness the vulnerable process of what love does inside of us and b) having conversation about co-creating the kind of love experience we want to have, which includes sharing what we need and want and hope for in love.

The willingness to be this real actually makes love more powerful and alive and serves to bond us more deeply than going on long walks or having dinner. And while the simple day-to-day activities do bond us to some degree, they simply don’t hold the potential for real transformative love that is possible when we take each other’s hand and step into the unknown becoming that love will do when we let it.