Have you ever really loved a woman?

art by  Laura Berger

A few weeks ago, driving home after leading a women’s workshop I heard this 90s classic by Bryan Adams on the radio. Given that the subject of the workshop was a deeper understanding of love - I listened - carefully. In fact I almost pulled the car over to absorb the depth of these lyrics. It was like I was listening to them for the first time - a powerful instruction manual for what it means to love - really love - a woman.

I can remember hearing this song when it came out and I was a pre-teen. Love/boys/kissing all seemed quite gross then thank you very much, but even then I knew this song had some gravitas. Listening again, for the first time in decades, I found that I somehow knew every single word.

That very week I had engaged in conversations with male and female clients about love and the woes of relationship. The frustrations that come from feeling misunderstood or undervalued. The doubt and uncertainty of whether the partner in a relationship actually does love you. The uncertainty around whether or not you actually love them.

But the beauty of true art is it offers us evergreen inspiration. This song is no exception. It reminds us that to love a woman is to offer deep security to her. To praise her and take time to understand and enjoy her ever-changing faces with a depth and breathlessness of adoration. To see a future together in her creative divinity and to do so gladly. Lately, I’ve shared said song with clients as a reminder and barometer for what love can look, feel, and sound like.

I have the honor of being in a relationship where I am loved like this song. And while I am grateful for that fact every single day, I also demanded it from a young age. Not directly from my significant other initially - but from myself. Then from the energetics of relationship. From learning - through trial and error - how to really love the woman of me. Complete with the ups and downs of my moon-changing moods. The unapologetic self-celebration of my own queendom.

This is every woman’s birthright.

But during this past patriarchal age, many of us got lost. We started to take our cues from men instead of remembering that women are actually the guides and the tone-setters. Culture would have us believe otherwise, of course, but the mother is after all, the first teacher. And when we learn from a young age and to respect and revere the feminine - whether it’s in ourselves or another, the divine masculine follows suit. But when we cheapen or devalue ourselves, as modern media has almost perfected, the men too begin to question, falter, and become confused.

And despite many of our mamas best efforts, a lot of men haven’t had great role models for what really, truly loving a woman looks like. In a modern culture of tinder swipes and the proliferation of the degradation of women through music, advertisements, and porn, there’s still a big learning curve. But I believe that can and must change. As odd as it may seem - the heartfelt lyrics of this forgotten song might be a fresh starting place as renewed contemplation for us all.

So I ask:

WOMEN: Have you ever really and truly been loved? Do you know what it feels like to authentically love yourself? Or at least be on the path to befriending yourself? Do you put up with the cheapness of modern dating or demand higher standards from those you engage with? Do you cheapen yourself in any way? How can you find a way to step more solidly into your own queen-self?

LOVERS OF WOMEN: Have you ever really and truly loved a woman? Have you treated her with the reverence and respect of a queen? Have you offered her the security and protection she craves to feel cared for by the masculine? Do you have any good role models for how to love a woman - or can you create through your own contemplation, what that kind of devotion might look like?

To love a woman transcends any kind of hetero-normative dictum and is a pillar of a successful and thriving humanity. It’s far beyond romantic love to the love of self, life and even planet.

So, here’s to really, really really knowing what it means to love women today and all days.

For more meditation and exploration on this topic, you can book a session or join me at the upcoming June retreat Sweet Summer Love.

Joanna Andreae