On Falling in Love
Compiled and edited, or paraphrased,
by David Van Alstyne
2. Wise Love
3. The Fruits
4. Elements of Health
5. What Love is Not
6. Love of Self Comes First
7. The Paradox of Separateness
8. To Start the Work of Real Loving
9. The Art of Loving
10. Beyond Emotion
11. The Need to Be Visible
12. A Friend is Another Self
13. Visibility and Self-discovery
15. Love At First Sight
16. Sense of Life Affinity
17. One Way to Asses Love
18. Complementary Differences, part 1
19. Complementary Differences, part 2
20. Maturity, part 1
21. Maturity, part 2
22. Creativity, part 1
23. Creativity, part 2
24. Biological Rhythms
27. Shared Excitement
28. Mutual Admiration
Is it Love or Infatuation?
Infatuation arises from things you can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. But with real love you can see far more about the person than first meets the eye.
Your mind will naturally seek the easiest person to be with, one with whom there is no struggle, no rough edges to work out, one with whom it is easy and comfortable.
In wise love each divines the high secret self of the other, and refusing to believe in the mere daily self, creates a mirror where the lover or the beloved sees an image to copy in daily life.
Infatuation is marked by a feeling of insecurity. You are excited by it. You are excited and eager, but not genuinely happy. There are nagging doubts, unanswered questions, little bits and pieces about your beloved that you would as soon not examine too closely. It might spoil the dream.
(A Dictionary of Love, compiled by Gil Friedman)
It is romantic infatuation, not real love, which has a disorganizing and destructive effect on your personality. Infatuation makes you less effective, less efficient, less your real self.
Elements of unhealthy dependency can creep into even the most mature love relationships. But how do we know if our love is in some ways addictive? People who mistake love-addictiion for real love:
Try to change their partner
Experience little individual growth
Need the other in order to feel complete
Irrationally fear terminating the relationship
Experience anxiety when routinely separated
Both power players and their victims play at the same game. The victim sees benefits too, because submitting to manipulation keeps the other person around, as if an honest relationship would not. Some of the power plays that sabotage mature love include:
Giving advice but not accepting any
Finding it hard to ask for love and support
Being judgmental and habitually finding fault
Finding it hard to admit mistakes or to apologize
In true love, on the other hand, people characteristically:
Feel open to internal exploration and change
Affirm equality of power for self and partner
Have personal security in high self-esteem
Welcome closeness; risk and vulnerability
Bring out the best qualities in the partner
Encourage self-sufficiency in the partner
Do not try to change or control the other
Express true feelings spontaneously
Do not seek unconditional love
Enjoy their own solitude
(Is it Love or Addiction?, by Brenda Schaeffer)
In real love you want the other person's good.
In romantic love you just want the other person.
- Margaret Anderson
In the presence of the loved one we rest in a serenity which permits the best expression of ourselves. There is not even a thought of doing or saying anything just to please the other. We know that whatever we spontaneously are will be enjoyed and appreciated simply because it is an expression of our own uniqueness. In place of our furtive search for the acceptable phrase or look, we experience a calm which permits us to move into our real self and to discover its riches.
Perhaps the biggest source of unhappiness in the world today stems from the idea that there is someone out there who will meet all our needs, because it turns us into needful children, waiting to be fed, instead of healthy adults asking if there is anyone who might need us. We should not be vessels in need of filling up, but persons in our own right with resources of our own.
Love is generally confused with dependence; but in point of fact, you can love only in proportion to your capacity for independence.
(A Dictionary of Love, compiled by Gil Friedman)
The ability to laugh, to smile at others, to put your problems into perspective, is an evolved skill. Those who come from a high level of self-love are often humorous, have a great wit, and love to bring out the childlike playfulness in others. They are willing to be spontaneous, often find reasons to smile, and are able to make others feel at ease and be happy themselves.
The cure for loneliness, strange as it may seem, is not in more active involvement in the world, but in seeking active unfoldment, from within, of our essential self which has been isolated. The lonely person needs to cultivate the art of creative solitude, to plumb the depths of his inmost self through meditation, to get away from people and relationships and become established in the roots of reality - in God, in love. Loneliness is not a longing for people but for God.
My true relationship is my relationship with myself - all others are simply mirrors of it. As I learn to love myself, I automatically receive the love and appreciation from others that I desire. If I am committed to myself and to the truth, I will attract others with equal commitment. My willingness to be intimate with my own deep feelings creates the space for intimacy with another. Enjoying my own company allows me to have fun with whomever I'm with.
The man and woman who can laugh at their love, who can kiss with smiles and embrace with chuckles, will outlast in mutual affection all the throat-lumpy, cow-eyed couples of their acquaintance. Nothing lives on, so fresh and evergreen, as love with a funnybone.
(A Dictionary of Love, compiled by Gil Friedman)
At least subconsciously, we are on the lookout for people who seem to accept and love us. When we find a person who appears to feel even some love for us, it's a tremendous event. But some of us believe that love is so scarce we have to do something about. Cage it. Tie it up. Don't let it get away! Marry it!
A common misconception is the idea that dependency is love. A person says, "I cannot live without my husband (wife, girlfriend, boyfriend), I love him (or her) so much." But that is not love. Love is the free exercise of choice. Two people love each other well only when they are quite capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other. Dependency is the inability to feel whole or fully functional without the other person. People with this disorder have no real sense of identity, and they define themselves by their relationships.
Most of us feel our loneliness to be painful, and we yearn to escape from behind the walls of our individual identities to a condition where we can be more unified with the world outside of ourselves.
Falling in love allows us this escape - temporarily.
Love and labor are inseparable. One loves that which one labors for, and one labors for that which one loves.
More than an emotion as we often think of it, love is a judgment or evaluation. In the person of someone we love, we find to a compelling degree many of those traits and characteristics that we happen to feel are most appropriate to life and therefore most desirable to our own well-being and happiness.
I once sat on the floor playing with my dog, Muttnik. We were jabbing and boxing with each other in mock ferociousness. What I found delightful and fascinating was the extent to which Muttnik appeared to grasp the playfulness of my intentions.
Why do we so much enjoy the self-awareness and psychological visibility evoked by the appropriate response or feedback from another person?
One of the main roots of the human desire for companionship, friendship, and love, is the need to perceive our self as an entity in external reality, to experience our objectivity through the reactions and responses of other human beings.
The desire for visibility is by no means just an expression of an uncertain ego, or of low self-esteem. On the contrary, the lower our self-esteem, the more we feel the need to hide. But the more we take pride in who we are, the more transparent we are willing to be.
Attraction, even passion may be born "at first sight." But love is not. Love requires knowledge, and knowledge requires time. People sometimes speak of "falling in love at first sight," because that is how it can seem in retrospect, when the powerful emotional response of the first moment has been validated and confirmed by later experience in such a way that love does indeed evolve.
Sometimes, one of the most eloquent signs of a sense-of-life affinity is common likes and dislikes in the field of art. Art is a sense-of-life realm, more explicitly so than any other human activity, and an individual's sense of life is crucial to determining his or her personal aesthetic responses.
One way to gain deeper insight into a love relationship is to ask: with what parts of myself does my lover bring me into fresh contact? How do I experience myself in this relationship? What feels most alive within me in the presence of this person?
In romantic love, optimally experienced, we are admired for the things we wish to be admired for, and in a way that is harmonious with our own view of life. We are drawn to consciousnesses like our own.
Just as there is specialization in labor, so there is specialization in personality development. To illustrate: One person actualizes more of his or her verbal-intellectual skills than another; another moves more in the direction of the intuitive function. One person is predominantly action-oriented; another is more contemplative. One person is more artistically inclined; another is more "worldly." One person may be deeply in love with the physical aspects of existence; another with the intellectual; another with the spiritual. We possess, and actualize, these and other potentials to different degrees.
When we speak of "maturity" and "immaturity" we are dealing always with a matter of degree. A given relationship may be mature in some respects but not in others. Highly evolved, mature men or women may still have moments of "immaturity," but these tend to be accepted for what they are. The decision to flow with such feelings involves a choice, not a blind compulsion. A mature man or woman accepts occasional immature feelings as normal and even pleasurable. Sometimes one can play the child and the other the parent - and it doesn't matter, because it is only a game, only a moment's rest; each knows the ultimate truth and is not afraid of it.
Without any implication of immaturity, there exists in each one of us the child we once were, and there are times when that child needs nurturing. We need to be aware of the child in ourselves and to be in a good relationship with that child.
Creative people exhibit a childlike quality, a freshness and spontaneity in their way of perceiving and responding to life. The essence of creativity is retaining the capacity to see life afresh every day and therefore to be able to perceive the unexpected, to leap into the unfamiliar, to be open to the novel. This is precisely the attitude required for the sustaining of passion. We keep our relationships alive by sharing this inner world, by exposing it, by expressing it, by making it part of the lived reality of our existence.
Creativity requires leisure, an absence of rush, time for the mind and imagination to float and wander and roam, time for the individual to descend into the depths of his or her psyche, to be available to the barely audible signals rustling for attention. Long periods of time may pass in which nothing seems to be happening. But we know that that kind of space must be created if the mind is to leap out of its accustomed ruts, to part from the mechanical, the known, the familiar, the standard, and generate a leap into the new. Something very similar happens when a couple create time and space for themselves.
Biologists have discovered that every person possesses a peculiar biological rhythm which shows up in speech patterns, body movements and emotional responses. It is part of what we think of as "temperament." Some people are naturally more energetic than others, physically, emotionally and intellectually. They move and seem to think faster or slower. They seem to experience different relationships to time.
Our self-esteem affects virtually every aspect of our life including our feeling worthy of happiness, and the sense of our right to assert our own interests, needs, and wants. People with similar self-esteem levels tend to seek each other out.
One of the characteristics of love relationships that flower is a relatively high degree of mutual self-disclosure - a willingness to let our partner enter into the interior of our private world and a genuine interest in the private world of that partner. Couples in love tend to show more of themselves to each other than to any other person.
Fear of excitement kills romantic love. I sometimes take a group through a simple exercise. Students are asked to close their eyes and imagine themselves as children playing alone, feeling happy and joyous and filled with energy, and then to imagine first Mother and then Father entering the scene, and then to notice what happens to their emotions. The majority report a tensing, a shutting down, a relinquishing of their excitement.
Mutual admiration is the most powerful support system a relationship can have; the most powerful foundation. For many people it is frightening to ask, "Do I admire my partner?" This is to risk discovering that I may be bound to him or her more through dependency than admiration, more through immaturity or "convenience" than genuine esteem.