Happy people tend to have happy relationships, research shows. Is it because their happy relationship is what makes them happy people, or is it because being a happy, well-adjusted person helps make the relationship happy? Your answer to this question will have a lot to do with how you approach being in a relationship. If you believe that it is the partner you have chosen to be in a relationship with is what makes for a happy, healthy relationship, you will put your effort into searching for and finding the right mate for you. If you believe the basis of a good relationship is the result of two healthy, happy, mature people coming together, you will put your efforts into becoming a happy, healthy, mature person.
The search for the right mate is the preoccupation with many single people. At some point, we have all had the belief and the hope that the perfect woman will show up and make our life complete. Once upon a time, a beautiful princess will enter our life and shower us with love and admiration, and life will be good forever after. The lonely frog awaits transformation by the princess’ kiss. This fairytale, that the right woman will come along and recognize that we are her knight in shining armor, fill our emptiness, take away our pain, and make our life complete, is the source of much suffering and disappointment.
The simple truth is the knights and princesses live only in fairytales. When you begin to become complete within yourself, not starving for love and hungry for a relationship, the right individuals are more likely to arrive at your doorstep. Until then, the potential mates that knock on your door are often themselves incomplete, needy people, seeking security and wanting to complete themselves through you. They want you to be the knight to their damsel in distress.
When both partners are hungry and needing to be fed by the other, it doesn’t bode well for the relationship. Each will be grasping for scraps for themselves, rather than trying to provide nurturance for the other. Each will gobble up every word of praise, every smile, every approving pat on the head. The relationship will be driven by mutual hunger. There will be competition rather than cooperation.
The reality is that in order to attract the right partner, you must be the right person. To sustain a relationship that is fulfilling requires that you maintain a life that fulfills you. It all starts with you. Love originates within you and the power to create a fabulous relationship lies in your own hands.
Discarding Fairy Tales
- Getting rid of fairytale thinking about love involves letting go of assumptions and expectations you hold concerning the influence people can have over your life.
- You must let go of the expectation that the woman in your life will make you happy. Ultimately you alone are responsible for your own happiness or unhappiness.
- You must let go of the expectation that the woman in your life will protect you from the pain of living. Along with tears of joy, life inevitably dispenses tears of sadness. Your pain is yours alone to experience.
- You must let go of the expectation that the woman in your life will provide you with a sense of your own self-worth. While other people have their opinions about you, your self-esteem is something you develop on your own.
- You must let go of the expectation that you will be the center of your partner’s universe. Each person is the center of their own universe. If you want to be the center of their world or if they expect you to be the center of theirs, you’re both in trouble.
- You must let go of the expectation that the state of your relationship, your partner, and yourself will remain consistently pleasant. You don’t always like the one you love. As a matter of course, people run hot and cold, feel closeness and distance.
- When you let go of fairytale thinking about love, it becomes easier to recognize the only place where you can begin to create a beautiful relationship—within your own self.
True Fairy Tales
Let me step back and clarify my thoughts about a fairytale love. I believe, just as the fairytale says, love can be magical. Love can transform us. Love can kiss us awake and bring greater happiness into our lives. Love has the potential to do this. I know this to be true because this magic happened to my wife, Alice, and me. I was the frog that the princess kissed, Alice was the sleeping beauty. The difference is that the magic was not the result of some alchemy that took place outside ourselves. When we were awakened by our love for each other, the magic resided within us. And it wasn’t magic. It was intensive inner work. We made it happen.
For years before we met, Alice and I individually did the hard work that created the conditions for love to thrive. We studied, attended therapy and personal growth groups, performed spiritual practices. We prepared ourselves by growing and maturing in mind and spirit. If we had avoided this work, if we had not been prepared, the awakening kiss would have been wasted and I would still be a frog and Alice would still be asleep. When the prince came knocking on Alice’s door and the princess came knocking on mine, we were ripe, we were ready and able to awaken and give and receive our love.
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