Love is one of the most important parts of our life.
It drives who we spend our life with, what we spend our life doing. In many ways, it defines us.
But nobody ever teaches about love! There’s no love school or love class. It’s barely talked about in school, except in context of murderous royal families or in quiet novels most of us were too young to understand (I was).
We’re thrown into a world packed with love–without any training.
Compare that to how society treats our brains. There are massive institutions devoted to mastering science and curing cancer and teaching us how to read Hemingway. But very little is devoted to pumping up our hearts, adjusting them for today’s technological mores, and helping us inject kindness and love into every day of our lives.
So pointed out Zach Beach in a fascinating conversation last week. Zach’s an inspiring guy–he was working as a chemical engineer but became fascinated by love. He quit his job and threw himself head over heels (!) into learning everything he could about matters of the heart.
I met Zach a few weeks ago when I attended one of his Learning to Love seminars on self-love. (Forthcoming meetings include How to Take Your Casual Sex Seriously and, one I have circled seven times on my calendar, Communication Skills for Extraordinary Relationships.) It was a powerful event that had quite a few people in tears, and also featured the short of powerful, punchy presentation that only somebody who really knows their stuff can pull off.
This was clearly a guy I needed to learn from. Last week, I met up with Zach for what felt like a Cliff Notes conversation on love research. He knows the canon of love literature like I know SF Giants starting pitchers, rattled off a comprehensive reading list (on it!), and gave me outstanding feedback on the User Manual concept. He also has old-fashioned rock star presence, sporting sunglasses with heart-shaped lenses, an I HEART HEART t-shirt, and greeting my handshake with a hug. It felt like I was hanging with the Dali Lama of Love.
A few tidbits from our conversation, to be explored further as part of The User Manual:
- Many people in kink and polyamorous communities have elaborate rules around love and sex that they present to each other (as in biting’s ok, slapping’s not). This forces introspection and rule-following–some of the same concepts as in the User Manual.
- Each relationship is different. Two different people coming together at different points in their life create a unique relationship entity–think of two different molecules coming together to form a new compound–Hydrogen and Oxygen creates something very different (water) from Hydrogen and Sulfur (hazardous gas). So a User Manual should probably be unique to each relationship as well.
Zach’s publishing a book called the Seven Languages of Love which distils his life of love into seven principles and a bonus lesson. My favorite: We can never open our hearts too much, which can be hard to remember after a crappy day or in the middle of a fight over folding laundry, but is absolutely spot on.
I pre-ordered two copies of Zach’s book and strongly recommend supporting his Publishizer campaign. You can’t have too much love!