Friday, August 27, 2010

How Relationships Work

I possess a great interest in understanding how relationships work. As many of you are thinking about or have already started exploring new romantic relationships, I believe the material I am going to present in the next many blogs will be of interest to you too.

Many years ago, a friend recommended a wonderful book,
The Psychology of Romantic Love, What Love Is, Why Love Is Born, Why It Sometimes Grows, Why It Sometimes Dies by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D, that was actually first published in 1980. Although that seems like a long time ago, the fact of the matter is that the truth always remains the truth. The principles expounded in this book so resounded within me that I thought I would share them with you. I will warn you that I got a little carried away, but there were just so many passages that were so wonderfully elegant that I feel “obligated” to reproduce them for you. Take what resonates with you and discard the rest.

Dr. Branden explains so clearly and precisely what is necessary for a relationship to work. They are principles we know – they sound like common sense – but somehow in the midst of relationship issues we forget some of these fundamental truths. Sometimes it’s nice just to have them in black and white to remind ourselves of the importance of being totally upfront and honest in all our relationships (not just romantic ones). Unless we are willing to reveal ourselves, it will be virtually impossible for someone to love us for who we truly are because they will only come to know the persona erected for the outside world. We must put aside our fears (of rejection) and take a chance for a greater good.

As I’ve shared before, I feel the word “love” is grossly overused – and Dr. Branden supports me!! Love is serious. Saying you love your house or your clothes is not the same as saying you love another human being. Personally, I think the word love is such a superlative that it should be used only when there is an excellent understanding on the part of both partners of the emotions/thoughts that stand behind the words.

Dr Branden states,
“The current usages of the word “love” represent inexcusable intellectual sloppiness. My own impression is that people who talk of “loving” everyone are in fact expressing the wish or plea that everyone should love them. But to take love — above all love between adults -- seriously, to treat the concept with respect and to distinguish it from generalized benevolence or good will, is to appreciate that it is a unique experience possible between some people but not with all.

When a man and a woman with significant spiritual and psychological affinities encounter each other and fall in love, then romantic love becomes the pathway not only to sexual and emotional happiness but also to the higher reaches of human growth. It becomes the context for a continuing encounter with the self, through the process of interaction with another self. Two consciousnesses, each dedicated to personal evolution, can provide an extraordinary stimulus and challenge to the other. Then ecstasy can become a way of life."

Next up ... Understanding Romantic Love

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