The feeling of love is about oneself—how we feel about a person or how a person makes us feel is completely about us, not the other person. And that’s not love—not real love. Real love is about the other person and how we treat the other person, how we act towards him or her, how we choose to show up moment to moment in our relationship with that person—whether we do so with love, honesty, courage, openness, warmth, gratitude, appreciation, care, concern, an open heart; or whether we show up petty, resentful, moody, bitchy, depleted, unmotivated, dishonest, fearful, unopen, closed off, armored up, resistant, impenetrable, and vent ourselves on that person.
The moment a relationship becomes more about how another person makes us feel rather than the type of person we are to the other person, we doom the relationship, because how we feel about another person is completely about us, not them. It’s how we treat another and act towards him or her that shows whether we actually really truly Love and value the person or not.
From “The Art of Loving,” by Erich Fromm—
If two people who have been strangers—as all of us are—suddenly let the wall between them break down, and feel close, feel one, this moment of oneness is one of the most exhilarating, most exciting experiences in life. It is all the more wonderful and miraculous for person who have been shut off, isolated, without love. This miracle of sudden intimacy is often facilitated if it is combined with, or initiated by, sexual attraction and consummation. However, this type of love is by its very nature not lasting. As the two persons become better acquainted and more familiar to each other, their intimacy loses more and more its miraculous character, until their antagonism, their disappointments, their mutual boredom kill whatever is left of the initial excitement. Yet, in the beginning they do not know all this: in fact, they take the intensity of the infatuation, this being ‘crazy’ about each other, for proof of the intensity of their love, while it may only prove the degree of their preceding loneliness.
This experience of sudden intimacy is by its very nature very short-lived. After the stranger has become an intimately known person there are no more barriers to be overcome, there is no more sudden closeness to be had. The ‘loved’ person becomes as well known as oneself.
Or, perhaps I should say, as *little known* as oneself. And valued even less.
If there were more depth in the experience of the other person, if one could experience more of the infiniteness of his personality, and the other person would never be so familiar—the miracle of overcoming the barriers might occur every day anew. But for most people their own person, as well as others, is soon explored and soon exhausted. And the result is that one soon seeks love from a new person, a new stranger. And again the stranger is transformed into an ‘intimate’ person, and again the experience of falling in love is exhilarating and intense, and again it slowly becomes less and less intense, and ends in the wish for a new conquest, a new love—always with the illusion that *this* new love will be different from the earlier ones. (pp. 4, 48-49; my abridgement and adaptation)
And from “The Road Less Traveled,” by M. Scott Peck—
The experience of falling in love is invariably temporary. The essence of the phenomenon of falling in love is a sudden collapse of a section of an individual’s ego boundaries, permitting one to merge his or her identity with that of another person. The sudden release of oneself from oneself, the explosive pouring out of oneself into the beloved, and the dramatic surcease of loneliness accompanying this collapse of ego boundaries is experienced by most of us as ecstatic. We and our beloved are one! Loneliness is no more!
The experience of merging with the loved one has its echoes from the time when we were merged with our mothers in infancy. Along with the merging we also re-experience the sense of omnipotence which we had to give up in our journey out of childhood. All things seem possible! United with our beloved we feel we can conquer all obstacles. We believe that the strength of our love will cause the forces of opposition to melt away. The unreality of these feelings when we have fallen in love is essentially the same as the unreality of the two-year-old who feels itself to be with power unlimited.
Just as reality intrudes upon the two-year-old’s fantasy of omnipotence so does reality intrude upon the fantastic unity of the couple who have fallen in love. Sooner or later, in response to the problems of daily living, individual will reasserts itself. He wants to have sex, she doesn’t. She wants to go to the movies, he doesn’t. He wants to put money in the bank, she wants a dishwasher. She wants to talk about her job, he wants to talk about his. She doesn’t like his friends, he doesn’t like hers. So both of them, in the privacy of their hearts, begin to come to the sickening realization that they are not one with the beloved, that the beloved has and will continue to have his or her own desires, tastes, prejudices and timing different from their own. One by one, gradually or suddenly, the ego boundaries snap back into place; gradually or suddenly, they fall out of love. Once again they are two separate individuals.
At this point they begin either to dissolve the ties of their relationship or to initiate the work of real loving.
By my use of the word “real” I am implying that the perception that we are loving when we fall in love is a false perception—that our subjective sense of being loving is an illusion. Real love does not have its roots in a feeling of love. To the contrary, real love often occurs in a context in which the feeling of love is lacking, when we act lovingly despite the fact that we don’t particularly feel loving or particularly even feel like we like the person at the moment. (pp. 84, 87-88; my abridgement and adaptation)