We have no doubt felt the euphoria of ‘falling in love.’ We meet someone who accepts us and offers the possibility of physical connection. We are instantaneously whisked away to the land of romance.
We may soon find ourselves obsessing about the person, fantasizing about future scenarios and feeling a new sense of purpose and aliveness. Romantic love shatters our sense of aloneness, simultaneously bringing increased feelings of joy, connectedness and contentment. We exhale with relief that life and our identity are now better.
However, this rapid change in perception is not only illusionary, it reveals that we may only feel alive and complete through another person or when in an intimate relationship. Where did we learn such magical thinking?
During childhood, we experienced an idyllic, albeit short-lived, all-oneness with our mothers in which separation from evoked much suffering. We also experienced wounding as we adapted, sought control or learned to appease, in order to fit into our family of origin. As adults, we continue to yearn for the feeling of wholeness and for the healing of these wounds.
The possibility of completeness arises in romantic love. However, in order to receive acceptance for whom we truly are, we often regress to our childhood roles. We alter ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, to be more appealing to the other and to avoid the other’s disapproval, much like we did as children.
At the same time, we project our unknown traits onto our partners, and up they go on the pedestal. They seem to ‘complete us’ when in fact we have merely placed our ‘other (unconscious) half’ onto them. We have actually fallen in love with ourselves!
If attaining romance requires us to play a role for the benefit of another and asks the other to hold an idealized image for us, such necessities clearly negate the very purpose of an intimate relationship. This conforming charade is both soul-killing and deems the relationship a mirage.
It is no accident that we often feel that we really do not know the other person. Additionally, we often feel we have ‘lost our selves’ in the relationship.
In order to feel whole, we need to live in accordance to our passions, and to be responsible for satisfying our emotional needs. In this way, we are complete before we enter a relationship. No one should have the immense responsibility of saving or completing us, or making us feel worthy, alive, or needed.
In a depth psychologically way, we want to integrate our inner psychic partner in order to lessen its projection onto an external partner. Rumi wisely stated, “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”
True love is based upon the total acceptance of our partners without any self-interest motives lurking beneath our interactions. As John Alten noted, “Love has to do with valuing another person as a whole and as unique.”