Excerpt on Love
There is much to be said for falling in love. Most of us can probably remember the first time we were in love, and what unexpected and powerful emotions were released. To have the experience of falling in love is to become open to matters of the heart in a wonderful way. It can be the prelude to a valuable expansion of personality and emotional life. It is also an important experience because it brings the sexes together and initiates relationship. Whether this leads to happy or unhappy consequences, life is kept moving in this way. Perhaps, especially with young people, falling in love is a natural and beautiful experience, and a life that has not known this experience is no doubt impoverished.
The fact is, however, the relationships founded exclusively on the being-in-love state can never last. Being in love is a matter for the gods, not for human beings, and when human beings try to claim the prerogative of the gods and live in a state of “in-loveness” (as differentiated from truly loving each other), there is a movement from the unconscious to break it up. A relationship of being in love simply does not last when put to the test of the reality of a true, human relationship; it can endure only in a fantasy world where the relationship is not tested in the everyday stress of real life. When they live together in everyday human conditions, “John and Mary” soon become real to each other as actual, imperfect human beings. The more real they are to each other as people, the less possible it is for the magical, fascinating images from the unconscious to remain projected on them. Soon the state of being in love fades away, and, worse yet, the same anima and animus who once fell in love with each other may now begin to quarrel. ….
The fact that the state of being in love cannot endure the stress of everyday life is not what we want to hear, at least not in present-day America, which depicts the state of being in love as the goal of the relationship between the sexes, and constantly dangles it in front of our eyes with advertisements on television. Human beings are not very keen on substituting reality for the allurement of fantasies. We prefer to go on looking for the perfect man or woman, that is, the man or woman who will fit our ideal image and guarantee that we are happy and fulfilled, even though it leads to disappointment after disappointment, and adds more and more bitterness to our cup of life.
It should now be clear that to the extent that a relationship is founded on projection, the element of human love is lacking. To be in love with someone we do not know as a person, but are attracted to because they reflect back to us the image of the god or goddess in our souls, is, in a sense to be in love with oneself, not with the other person. In spite of the seeming beauty of the love fantasies we may have in this state of being in love we can, in fact, be in a thoroughly selfish state of mind. Real love begins only when one person comes to know another for who he or she really is as a human being, and begins to like and care for that human being.
No human being can match the gods and goddesses in all their shimmer and glory and, at first, seeing the person whom we love for who she or he is, rather than in terms of projections, may seem uninteresting and disappointing, for human beings are, on the whole, rather an ordinary lot. Because of this, many people prefer to go from one person to another, always looking for the ultimate relationship, always leaving the relationship when the projections wear off and the in-loveness ends. It is obvious that with such shallow roots no real, permanent love can develop. To be capable of real love means becoming mature, with realistic expectations of the other person. It means accepting responsibility for our own happiness or unhappiness, and neither expecting the other person to make us happy nor blaming that person for our bad moods and frustrations. Naturally this makes real relationship a difficult matter, at which one must work, but fortunately the rewards are there too, for only in this way does our capacity for love mature.
-John Sanford, “The Invisible Partners”