Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Test of True Love

The Test of True Love

Romantic love is usually selfish but it is a good starting point for one to learn about love. How else could one transcend selfishness unless one has suffered its painful consequences?

Is it possible for one to have a romantic relationship without experiencing pain? Why can't a relationship be a hundred percent blissful all the way?

I would say, this is only possible if couples live in a controlled lab environment. In real life, we are exposed to the vicissitudes of everyday living. You are like a boat tossed about in the sea, exposed to the winds and currents. When you form a relationship with someone, you are actually merging two "networks" together, and not two individual "nodes". You need to deal with an entire network of interlocking relationships -- family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances from each side.

In other words, a romantic relationship is not an affair between two people but a very complex web of interactions between two systems of forces. Expecting your partner to isolate herself from her network is not going to be possible nor practical. Your partner is defined by both by her own personal qualities and also the qualities of her network. You have to take the whole thing or nothing at all.

Those who understand the dynamics of the forces involved, can do slightly better in romantic relationships because they face less disappointments. They set their expectations right from the very beginning. Those who don't have to learn the hard way; but then again this is the whole point of having a relationship--to learn, evolve and better ourselves.

We suffer pain because we all are inherently imperfect creatures. These imperfections exhibit themselves as selfishness. We want our partners to behave in certain ways, based on what we think is right. But is it really?

Now, if we relent to our partner's wishes too much, we also fear that they, driven by their own selfishness will take advantage of us. We are always, consciously or unconsciously, trying to manipulate people whom we perceive to be weaker than us. So a romantic relationship is also a power struggle, between two sides to impose dominance over the other because each side fears losing control. Fear and selfishness--the two most destructive forces at work in the universe.

True love is something that is very difficult to define. All lovers claim that they know what love is and that the love they feel inside for their partner is true and pure. To me, true love is very simple: let's just start by eliminating fear and selfishness in any relationship.

Try doing two key things well: Care for your loved one without expecting anything in return--selflessness; have complete trust in your partner--fearlessness. It is often a life-long task, but If you can succeed in eliminating these two factors in your relationship, what remains is love--true, pure and simple.

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