Vintage love, I define, is a state of relating in which all people are skilled practitioners of the Biological Dream skills. It involves two or more trained people and is the result of years and years of learning. (Tis much easier to learn if your parents were in Vintage Love when you were born, but that is not even remotely common.)
If you look on my Map of Relationships, Vintage Love is the column away to the right. It is achieved only by entering Door #1 and staying on in what I call the University of Life with someone. I define the University of Life as a place where
- you learn the skills of the Biological Dream and unlearn the skills that contradict it,
- where you repair or heal the damage from your childhood and even from your relationships, and
- where you end up 'sharing it all' with your partner. This all takes time – and I believe this last item is the slowest.
Once you graduate from the University of Life, and you begin to get a sense of 'we've got it,' then you are practitioners of Biological Dream Skills. You know the how and why of each skill, and you perform them easily and automatically without much thought.
Once you graduate ideally you are ready for having and raising children. That's sad cuz usually at this point your kids are already pretty well grown and have learned from you a lot of those “nasty” traditional skills. Bummer.
But still you are easily relating with and supporting each other. You are also often getting along much better with others, as your actions and reactions are congruent with the Biological Dream buried in each of them.
One interesting characteristic of Vintage Love is that you are clearly no longer “normal.” Vintage Love is exceptional, or super-normal. Only a small percentage of couples or people make it. You will find yourself to be distinctly odd – but very nicely so. And if you like to be normal perhaps it would be better to give up working for the Biological Dream. What we as a culture experience as “normal” seems very specifically non-Vintage Love. Yet we all “fall in love” with the dream of making it to Vintage Love.
And being in Vintage Love does not mean others like you. This is fascinating. Oh, children and animals will. But you do have trouble…. with those adults and young adults who haven't made it and are not trying to make it. Those in Door #2, who gave up their own biological journey, have even taken a position that you are impossible – you don’t exist. And while you have lots of empathy for them, while you remember clearly how to foolishly do the things they are doing, they are often angry at you. I have many times been attacked (verbally) by people in Door #2 or even by those young people who are trying to conform.
Ah well! Still you have all these skills and know how to work on things between you and others. And so, you know how to comfortably deal with their attacks. The most common boundary skill that I have found used by Vintage Lovers is the 'hide out” from the general public. Being with other non-vintage lovers just isn't fun. It is work.
Finally Vintage Love only ends with death. Who the heck would ever leave it!
Safety: Threat is really something that comes from outside the relationship. Being with each other is relaxing, comfortable, easy. If tension arises, it is removed rapidly and smoothly. I love the phrase that this period is the “triumph of reflection over reaction.” Reactivity becomes a source of curiosity and eventually a source of better understanding. If someone feels unsafe, both stop everything else, until that sense of safety is re-achieved. There is a more or less constant monitoring of safety in all people present. All have good boundary skills, so there is no blaming. Instead, there are clear actions to keep all people free of upset. Lastly there is an enormous amount of sharing about what is going on. Probably the principle is that people are more relaxed when there are no surprises, particularly ugly surprises. Thus there is a strong tendency to keep each other informed. Withholding or lying are pretty much non-existent.
Reliable Membership: I see this as a kind of monitoring of “neediness for connection” and “neediness for quiet and space.” Both participate in achieving these goals. The more needy one is supported and encouraged to have plenty of optional connections to people and activities outside the relationship. These connections specifically are not threatening to the “one at home.” The one at home is supported and encouraged to have plentiful amounts of peacefulness and quiet. Both sense they belong to each other and are supported in, and supportive of, each other’s needs for connection. Those needs seem easier to meet when together than when apart.
Diversity: Agreement is a thing of the past. It is replaced by a kind of mutual fascination about “who the other is now, who they were yesterday and who they are becoming.” Everything seems tentative. Disagreement becomes the norm and is often amusing. Conversation becomes a kind of taking-turns-interviewing each other. Talk runs smoothly from point to point, from understanding to understanding, from validation to validation. The way of being together is solid and concrete while the content that is shared is constantly changing. I am talking about serious “growth” of two or more people, here.
Autonomy: I see this as the fascinating area of decision making and “who’s boss.” In vintage love, nobody is forced (directly or indirectly) – ever. But also, nobody gets to avoid making decisions either. Self-responsibility is the norm, sharing is a method, and there are lots of techniques to make sure this is maintained.
Purpose: In Vintage Love, seeking your purpose and working purposefully is a normal preoccupation. With the problems of Safety, Membership and uniqueness resolved, there is nothing to hold this back or distract people from “becoming and being their unique selves.” It becomes a constant curiosity.
So that people in Vintage Love are not distracted by conflict, they have developed great communication skills and boundary skills. They have become deeply self-aware and kind and understanding (forgiving) to themselves. And along the way they have aggressively cooperated in removing those reactivities, those tendencies that made sense when they were children and are now interfering – wounds.
One tiny Personal Example:
My view: My wife and I have not argued in 15 years. That hasn’t meant that we have not had the opportunity. We just know what to do to move beyond that distraction. Oh, we used to argue, before we learned better.
For a lot more specifics, I think science is catching up with us. Try reading Dan Siegel's book. The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being.