Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Low Threshold/HighThreshold Love Relationships

(A Thesis -- read through because I have a question and a proposal at the end! Love, Bears)

For weeks now, I have been exploring, contemplating and expanding my grasp of love relationships in my life. I realize that I have high-threshold love relationships and low-threshold love relationships.

I told my father as he died in my arms that I would always look out for Rosie, no matter what. If I had one piece of bread, she gets it before me. I have delivered and will continue to --- that's a high threshold love relationship for me.

Caiseal, who used to teach at the Institute and who has been a dear friend for years (still is), asked me with sweet tears in her eyes as she was about to relocate to the Southwest if I would guarantee, no matter what, that I would always love her. No matter what...now, ten years from now, thirty years from now as long as we were both still in a physical form. I smiled easily and said yes. And that was it -- day or night, whenever she calls, I will be there -- that's a high-threshold love relationship for me.

A sweet friend and an Option Institute employee some time ago disagreed with several decisions I made in my effort to guide the Institute (as best I could). She got quite upset, left the Option Institute employ abruptly and refused, even after I requested, to speak to me about her discontent and her issues about my decisions ----- in that case, that person would have held me in a low-threshold relationship.

What's this all about? High-threshold means I cherish someone or someone else cherishes me so much that no issue will break the relationship or compromise the love. In effect, no issue can trump the commitment to love. Low-threshold (or medium) relationship means a person can or will walk away based on the issues because the commitment to the relationship is not made in such a way that the person has said yes -- I'm here, I am showing up and I will continue to show up -- I'm in -- now, tomorrow, the next day. That's a declaration of Inner Strength.

I realized that I often, with folks who I adopt as friends, jump in and make those relationships high-threshold -- unless the issue is beyond anything I could ever imagine, the relationship and love will always be held in such high regard and treasured so deeply that the relationship trumps the issue.

I loving jumping in. I think commitment is not a burden but a freedom to show up big time for yourself and someone else (personal growth training at its highest level). Often we never evaluate how committed we are or want to be in given relationship -- sure, experiment, evaluate -- but what about, at some point for some relationships, really jump in -- fully. "I'm going always to choose to love you." "I'm going to always be there for you." And then delighting in the idea and feeling honored to so deeply treasure someone in that manner. It could be a friend, a parent, a sibling, a lover, a student, a college professor (I had one but I didn't think that way back then who opened my heart and mind to delight in ideas and the process of thinking), an employee who has challenges and you/we/me decide to make that person a "sacred cow" on the staff, not because of great contribution but because wanted to be there for that person -- no matter who we would ever eliminate on staff, that person would be the last to go.

High-threshold relationships and low-threshold relationship foster different experiences. In the chosen high-threshold relationships, full authenticity is not only encouraged but enjoyed. In a low-threshold relationship, full authenticity is often not tolerated -- because certain issues are to be avoided or they could trump the relationship. I realize how nourishing I experience high-threshold relationships -- how I love to find ones I can jump in like that. I also noticed the gift of others who embrace me in that fashion. But I also have some relationship where I show up high-threshold and the other person, nevertheless, shows up low-threshold (sometime, it's a surprise). Why would I do that, stay in low-threshold relationships? Because I want to maintain that relationship -- maybe it's with a child or a friend of a parent or someone I work with -- that's my choice. However, for me, it's the high-threshold relationships that I seek the most -- they endure in an awesome way.

It's a choice. It doesn't mean you decide to make all relationships high-threshold -- however, when you do, you declare it, you're in, solid, committed, blessed by the freedom to show up like that in the world.

Now...what about you? I know so many Option Institute students and friends might read this eventually. Write me. Make a list for yourself. If you've never made such a declaration, consider it now -- and then, if you want, do it. Let me know with who. Let me know how it felt. Let me know why you decided to create or reaffirm relationships in which you will never have an issues between you and someone else trump that relationship. We could make a special wall on the blog (I'll find out how). You put your name up and put names next to your who you've committed to in a high-threshold relationship. Wow! High flame!

Loving you, Bears


  1. Wow – Thank you for your thesis Bears, I also have been chewing on this subject recently:
    I would definitely commit to a high threshold relationship with my two children Meghann and Jordan, because I know that there is nothing that they could do to change my decision to love them. I would base that on the definition of love (as you have defined it Bears) being to accept them unconditionally as they are, to want the best for them and to act to achieve that for them to the best of my ability. This idea is also based on the fact that my loving them with a high threshold would mean I was not dependent on them loving me back with the same commitment, they could decide one day that they no longer want me around them and I could still keep my commitment to myself to love them high threshold and want the day when they changed their mind, which I think puts me in the most comfortable, exciting and peaceful place.
    My thoughts on love relationships are slightly different in that I had decided that there are two different types of love relationships, one enduring and the other more transient. When a baby is first born it makes a decision to breathe, this is such a strong decision that the baby can continue to breathe without having to take a decision on each breath, however at any time a baby can decide not to breathe(e.g. toddler tantrums). I think from the moment that the blue line appeared on the pregnancy test, I made a decision to love my child that was so strong that I now don’t have to think about loving my children it’s like breathing – I just do it, I will never be so wrapped up in something else in my day that I would stop loving them.
    The other sort of love is like shining a spot light on someone, it is a deliberate decision to love that person with every fibre of my being. This can be someone I have known for a while or someone I have just met, it can be a single person or a group. This person could then experience me loving them full beam, but maybe 30 minutes later, when I have left this situation, I am loving someone else full beam and so loving the initial person less because my focus is present on the person immediately in front of me.
    The beauty of this system as I see it is that I can mix and match and I could both love my children with the enduring breathing style of love and the spotlight, which is an awesome experience. Also when I am shining the spotlight on someone I have just met I am still loving those people for whom love is like breathing.
    What do you think?
    Love and hugs
    Alison Taylor

  2. Very nice Bears! While I was reading this, I wondered your thoughts on this: what if you are a high-threshold love-type person, yet, you only seem to encounter low-threshold people. How can you change that? Since we cannot control others, and we may want high-threshold love, do we simply move on to the next?
    Thank you for your imput,

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  4. Love the high-threshold! Could use the practice as I seem to only find low-threshold, or no-see-ums instead. Read thru "how to make friends" from Dale Carnegie. All makes sense. I "think" I follow the suggestions from the heart, only recently had a three hour meeting about my role at work and how my message is presented. My leadership is there, only the how to, ought to be different. No questions asked. So eather: my actions are different from what I thought my actions to be, which make me a lior, or my actions are perceived differently than I wish to, which make me confused. As the two phylosophies collide, I can only change my perception of my performance, so can I only perform? which becomes then low-threshold, not?

  5. Hi Bears, Blessed Self:
    Love the High Threshold! The Lover and Beloved take the responsibility to see to it that the relationship work one hundred per cent each, thus making the relationship work at 200$ total. The two are committed to the relationship whether the relationship is working or not. Where the two are "in love" (Yin) and at the same time at the state of being loving (Yang) to each other. They look at each other through the eyes of someone who loves them. We really cannot give anything we ourselves haven't got. It is important for both to have a Purposeful Activity larger than the two of them. Otherwise the relationship is just on "survival" mode which is Low Threshold Love relationship. In High threshold love relationship two people are alive, awake, naked with no weapons to one another. Thank you Bears, I love you!
    Lotus N Gates

    April 16, 2009 9:03 AM

  6. Hi Bears!

    I recently had been very committed to helping my ex-husband during his recent illness but I had never consider committing to a high threshold relationship with the man I am so happily recently divorced from after being together for 28 years. But after thinking about your proposal, I absolutely will commit to loving him as a dear friend, no matter what, and that feels glorious. I also want to include my children, and my friends Linda and Sanne. It has been so much fun contemplating this proposal and examining which relationships I would choose to place at such a high priority in my life! And it does feel wonderful to jump in!

  7. Hi Bears,
    I *love* (and hate) talking about love because the concept has so completely boggled my mind for so long and I feel so alone in that. I wish I could just "get" it. Anyway, I feel with great certainty that I love my two children. So that might be defined as "high." I realize that whatever they do/say will not diminish my love for them. Everyone else in the world, however, is much more muddied.

    The Bears definition of love (acceptance & wanting/doing the best) is a decision I can make about someone (anyone). But what about how I *feel* being around that person in terms of whether that person inspires joy in me? And to what level? Or, is my joy so completely my own decision that it's irrelevant who I'm with and how much time I'm with them?

    I feel as though I can love (Bears' definition) my husband much easier from afar, like, if I could spend less time with him. Is that valid? It's like he's vanilla ice cream with a few chocolate chips (yum) and some coconut thrown in (yuck). But I like chocolate ice cream with peanut butter much better. I feel more joy eating the latter flavor than the first. The vanilla is okay and there's nothing wrong w/vanilla generally speaking, I just prefer to be "with" the chocolate.

    So, I can love vanilla (Bears' definition) but get a lot more joy (my definition) from the chocolate. Can I learn to get as much joy out of the vanilla as the chocolate? Can I pick out the coconut in that vanilla and eat just the ice cream? How does that compare to the chocolate/peanut butter I'm missing? What if I had to eat the vanilla just once in a while. Can I live w/that? Can the vanilla change his recipe to include less coconut and more peanut butter? How much time to I spend waiting for that possiblity to occur? HELP!!!
    Thanks Bears!!
    April Smith