I do not remember the path I took, but today my thoughts guided me to the realm of love. One of the things we do not get prepared to grasp as we grow, is the uncomfortable truth that love does not guarantee bliss. The concept of love we learn is full of idealizations that deprive us of a good measure of tolerance to frustration. We tend to believe in the omnipotence of love, in the concept of true love that stays forever unchanged, in the existence of the ideal match or soul mate and the ultimate need to pursue for her/him. We put our love on the objects around us whether this is people, things, institutions, abstract concepts and tend to ignore the rather disruptive clues to our phantasy. Life itself simply cannot be accepted to disrupt the permanent magical cloud we would wish to be on to. When there is love, all will be ok we quote and cling to this belief like we unraveled the most profound truth. If we love someone, he/she should be as we desire him/her by design and we fall apart when reality shows otherwise. Within the state of love we tend to exaggerate every positive trait of our beloved and reduce any flaws to nothing or even love the flaws as well. More than few people believe true love means that someone can know instinctively what the loved one needs without any words to be involved. But love is not a means to an end, it is not a way of acquiring what we think we need. We love someone and he/she becomes ours, not permitted to have his own mind and feeling. We craft our emotional well-being solely around the attainment of another person. And wanting to be endlessly, unconditionally loved, we think we should do the same, choking back our self. We grasp love as a “give and take” must be condition. But all of the above are not sustainable for long, so there is pain, frustration, anger, betrayal but these we cannot accept, so we fear them.
It seems like a core human need to feel pure, untainted love, to construct it and preserve it no matter what. The mother’s love, the family love, the God of love, the love for our country, the love for our football team, a music band e.t.c. On the altar of retaining love sacrifices are made and infinite pain is sometimes justified. We need love to push back the fear of solitude and the ultimate fear of death. These are definitely a couple of the strongest motivations at play, but even for these love will not indefinitely suffice, if we do not nurture the principle of reality in ourselves.
I feel that I must add a necessary remark right here. Love is great and amazing and maybe it is the greatest human experience, one of the greatest for sure. All kinds of love are notable each in its own right and they undoubtedly make life more bright and meaningful. It is not wrong to desire to love and to be loved, but your self is not forfeit without it. It is important to redefine its relative position in the grand scheme of our existence and we cannot simply ignore other unavoidable aspects of human nature which distort our delusions of control, grandiosity and perfection. The sooner we let ourselves elaborate on this, we will be relieved.
We ourselves will at many points think, feel and act in ways that contradict the idealized concept of love. The whole concept of caring for others includes to act in ways that are not compatible with like or love. It goes to this : We are frustrated when not likeable things happen like children do and we do not get trained to accept that our frustration and discomfort is not reason enough to believe we are entitled to exactly what we want despite of life, society, reality.
Spiros Kalimeris Psychiatrist Psychotherapist