What, exactly, is up with love? With romance? And how, oh how, do we get love to âstay?â
The quesÂtion itself comes from an essenÂtial misÂinÂterÂpreÂtaÂtion regardÂing the meanÂing and purÂpose of life.
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EleÂgant, IntiÂmate RelatÂing is an art. It requires attenÂtion, focus and perÂsisÂtence. My book, The. Best. RelaÂtionÂship. Ever., is packed with guidÂance, exerÂcisÂes, and direcÂtions for drasÂtiÂcalÂly improvÂing your relaÂtionÂship.
Weâre starting with a quote from
a book by Tom Robbins â Still Life with Woodpacker.
On the fourth day, she decidÂed to think, in an orgaÂnized manÂner, about the probÂlem of romance. âWhen weâre incomÂplete, weâre always searchÂing for someÂbody to comÂplete us. When, after a few years or a few months of a relaÂtionÂship, we find that weâre still unfulÂfilled; we blame our partÂners and take up with someÂbody more promisÂing. This can go on and on- series polygamy- until we admit that while a partÂner can add sweet dimenÂsions to our lives, we, each of us, are responÂsiÂble for our own fulÂfillÂment. Nobody else can proÂvide it for us, and to believe othÂerÂwise is to delude ourÂselves danÂgerÂousÂly and to proÂgram for evenÂtuÂal failÂure every relaÂtionÂship we enter. Hey, thatâs pretÂty good. If I had penÂcil and paper, Iâd write that down.â Alas, she had no penÂcil, while the roll of paper that sat by the chamÂber pot was desÂtined for a difÂferÂent end.
Next, she thought, âWhen two peoÂple meet and fall in love, thereâs a sudÂden rush of magÂic. MagÂic is just natÂuÂralÂly present then. We tend to feed on that graÂtuÂitous magÂic withÂout strivÂing to make any more. One day we wake up and find that the magÂic is gone. We husÂtle to get it back, but by then itâs usuÂalÂly too late, weâve used it up. What we have to do is work like hell at makÂing addiÂtionÂal magÂic right from the start. Itâs hard work, espeÂcialÂly when it seems superÂfluÂous or redunÂdant, but if we can rememÂber to do it, we greatÂly improve our chances of makÂing love stay.â She was unsure if that idea was proÂfound or trite. She was only sure that it matÂtered.
Tom RobÂbins, Still Life With WoodÂpeckÂer, pp. 157â158
who knows how to make love stay?
Doug and the Slugs
Who knows how to make love stay?
Help before it gets away.
Thatâs the quesÂtion of the day.
Who knows how to make love stay?
The famous CanaÂdiÂan band Doug and the Slugs asked the same musiÂcal quesÂtion that is posed throughÂout Tom RobÂbinsâ Still Life with WoodÂpeckÂer. What, exactÂly, is up with love? With romance? And how, oh how, do we get love to âstay?â
The question itself comes from an essential misinterpretation regarding the meaning and purpose of life.
One answer to the âMeanÂing QuesÂtionâ is: We are driÂven by a bioÂlogÂiÂcal imperÂaÂtive to âfall in love,â and the bioÂlogÂiÂcal purÂpose of falling in love is reproÂducÂtion of our DNA, ala Richard Dawkins in The SelfÂish Gene.
The iniÂtial flush of falling in love is akin to an endorÂphin rush, and as we know, endorÂphin is the heroÂin of horÂmones. No wonÂder we feel so flushed and full of beans when we meet someÂone new.
Although some peoÂple would argue that the bioÂlogÂiÂcal imperÂaÂtive is âallâ that life is about, we look at things difÂferÂentÂly. Itâs likeÂly why I like Tom RobÂbins so much. In each of his books, and in a mulÂtiÂtude of difÂferÂent ways, he returns to the same theme â which is our answer to the âMeanÂing QuesÂtionâ -
âself-development requires self-responsibility.â
Which is the point in the first part of todayâs quote. Many peoÂple who have relaÂtionÂship issues admit to havÂing pretÂty much no idea as to why they are in the relaÂtionÂship they are in. They talk about what RobÂbins calls âmagÂicâ â the sapÂpy, simÂplisÂtic blast of horÂmonÂal enerÂgy that makes knees weak, stomÂachs queasy and brains to operÂate on half cylinÂders.
I preÂfer to elimÂiÂnate the bioÂlogÂiÂcal imperÂaÂtive from this equaÂtion, not because I find it unimÂporÂtant, but because thatâs what everyÂone does anyÂway. PeoÂple selÂdom comÂplain that their relaÂtionÂship is on the rocks because of reproÂducÂtive incomÂpatÂiÂbilÂiÂty. They are conÂsidÂerÂing endÂing the relaÂtionÂship because the magÂic died, and they couldÂnât get love âto stay.â
In other words, relationships end for
A relaÂtionÂship is simÂply one more areÂna where we play the only game we ever play â figÂurÂing ourÂselves out. But it is imposÂsiÂble to figÂure yourÂself out through a relaÂtionÂship. ThinkÂing you can tends to mean one thing: I now have my partÂner to blame for my inabilÂiÂty to figÂure myself out.
As RobÂbins put it:
â¦we, each of us, are responÂsiÂble for our own fulÂfillÂment. Nobody else can proÂvide it for us, and to believe othÂerÂwise is to delude ourÂselves danÂgerÂousÂly and to proÂgram for evenÂtuÂal failÂure every relaÂtionÂship we enter.
My sense is that most people mistakenly enter relationships in an attempt to (over) compensate for their upbringingâ¦ or to avoid dealing with their resistance to self-discipline.
Itâs not unusuÂal for peoÂple to latch on to othÂers to try to work through dysÂfuncÂtionÂal relaÂtionÂships with their parÂents. Or, because peoÂple sense what a difÂfiÂcult disÂciÂpline âgetÂting over themÂselvesâ entails, they avoid dealÂing with their issues, needÂiÂness and incomÂpleteÂness by draftÂing anothÂer perÂson to fill the gap.
The intent is to fill in the blanks so that, between two peoÂple there is one whole perÂson. Thus the expresÂsion, â(S)he makes me feel comÂplete.â
As RobÂbins writes, love leavesâ¦ and the magÂic diesâ¦ at approxÂiÂmateÂly the moment that the first of the two peoÂple realÂize that the othÂer has failed at the task of makÂing them feel betÂter about themÂselves.
Then, that perÂson starts with the, âHow dare (s)he! DoesÂnât (s)he know how much enerÂgy Iâve put into this relaÂtionÂship?â Rough transÂlaÂtion: âIâve wastÂed years! Now I have to go out and find someÂone else to make me betÂter, or make it betÂter for me.â
If, on the othÂer hand, this gets played out anothÂer way, in a self-responÂsiÂble way, then, from the get-go,
- I wonât be lookÂing to âbe takÂen care ofâ or âto be underÂstoodâ or âto be loved the way I should have been when I was growÂing up.â
- I will have gotÂten over the need to look outÂside of myself for someÂone to blame, or for someÂone to resÂcue me.
- I will be quite willÂing to do whatÂevÂer I have to do to know myself and be responÂsiÂble for myself. And
- I will be responÂsiÂble for âkeepÂing the magÂic aliveâ because Iâm the only one who can â Iâm the only one who can keep it alive for me.
RobÂbins: âwork like hellâ, âitâs hard work.â Indeed. Much easÂiÂer to look outÂside and to sigh and wonÂder when âitâs all going to magÂiÂcalÂly work out.â