By turning your attention to the other’s experience, love happens.

“How to love?” This ambitious question has been asked as far back in history as our collective beating hearts began. The experience of love, of course, defies description and is so profound that our greatest philosophers and spiritual traditions often regard it as the ultimate truth of life itself.

On a practical level, however, recent decades of research in human bonding, neuroscience, and the study of living systems have revealed common behaviors that we practice when we experience love in our daily lives. This includes love with our partner, our children, or even within ourselves. As Dr. Sue Johnson, psychologist and developer of one of the most proven methods of couples therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy, has asserted, we now can study, learn, and teach how to love.

This amazing and hopeful development means that we can choose to bring this experience of love into our lives by learning and practicing the moves. Dr. Johnson compares this to learning the steps of a dance; she uses “the tango” as a metaphor for loving interaction.

This post is the first in a series of “love maps” that I’ve gleaned from my mentors, the masters in this field. What I write is verified by my own life experience in relationship, and my ongoing practice. I don’t expect you to adopt a map just because a research team has observed it; instead, my fondest hope is that you test these offerings against your own daily experience with those in your life.