For most people intimacy equates with self-presentation, a process much different from self-revelation. Self-revelation occurs with minimal to no spin and or editing. Self-presentation, on the other hand, relies heavily on spin and editing and manipulating and managing the other’s impression of us by withholding and hiding away parts of ourself. Real intimacy is based on honesty, accountability, transparency, trust, and revealing secrets; pseudo-intimacy is based on privacy, keeping secrets, maintaining distrust instead of building trust and transparency. The self-presentation of pseudo-intimacy is a con, a game, and it’s the currency of fake or temporary relationships where the other person is not treated as a real person (or an end in him- or herself), but as a means, or a tool or a prop, something to be blithely used and cavalierly and selfishly discarded. Because when intimacy is pseudo and based on self-presentation, other people are much more disposable and interchangeable because what is desired is never really the other person but only a mirror that supplies a positive or livable-with reflection of oneself. What matters isn’t the other person, but the reflection one gets; thus pseudo-intimacy and self-presentation represent the height of narcissism and immaturity and even pathology. In pseudo-intimate relationships with its concomitant self-presentation, one is running a con, and in doing so one is never at a loss for potential victims or stoolpigeons to try and dupe with oneself and buy into one’s ruse.
When you truly love someone you care about them—you actually care about him or her, and not just in some abstract “as a person” way, but as your beloved, your partner, your life mate, your soul friend, et cetera. It’s not an abstract and theoretical up in the clouds idealized airy-fairy care. It’s a highly personal and highly practical and consistently and frequently actualized care. And one of the primary ways that this degree of genuine love and care manifests itself is by monitoring and scrutinizing our own output, or what we are contributing or putting out into the relationship or giving to the other person—how we are feeding the other, the quality of our own personhood and giving toward the other. When we genuinely love another person, we show it—we show it in a myriad of ways that are meaningful to the other person, that communicate love and affection and abidingness to the other person.
But when we don’t actually love the other person but we’re merely “in love” with the other person, then we don’t really care about the other person, what we really care about is ourself and what we’re getting/receiving from the relationship and the other person. And we care about this much more than what we’re investing and giving to the other person and the quality of what we’re giving to the other person—we only care about this as a means to what we’re getting.
“Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: they’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.” – Anthony Robbins
“When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.” – Joseph Campbell
“Real love hurts; real love makes you totally vulnerable and open; real love will take you far beyond yourself; and therefore real love will devastate you. I kept thinking, if love does not shatter you, you do not know love.” – Ken Wilber, “Grace and Grit,” pg. 396.
If the relationship you’re in and the love you’re supposedly giving isn’t undoing your ego, bringing you face to face with your own selfishness and pettiness, revealing to you your own hidden sickness and pathology, causing you to dismantle your own narcissism, and forcing you, compelling you, to stretch and transcend all of this and become better than the small, petty, frightened, immature, selfish, self-centered, life-goes-on-forever, death-denying parts of yourself that normally run the show and your life, then you’re not really loving another person; you’re using him or her and you’re hiding out from life and yourself.
Again, real love is about caring deeply—and especially when it’s not necessarily easy or convenient (this is the self-extension and self-sacrifice that shows that a person’s love is real and not just pseudo-love). Real love is not about easy ins and easy outs and disposability; instead it’s about recognizing and appreciating the other person’s—the beloved person’s—uniqueness and irreplaceability and not losing sight of this and taking the other person and the relationship for granted (living and loving as if life goes on forever).