Despite their self-defeating nature, fantasy and fear are what most of us fall back on when we search for love. Prompted by them, men and women approach romance with behaviors that can never bring about what they hope to achieve.
These tactics all grow out of listening to an inner voice that obsesses about love and directs our search even though the voice itself is quite loveless. Most of these futile behaviors will sound extremely familiar:
We constantly compare ourselves with an ideal that we can never live up to. The loveless inner voice drives us by saying, “You aren’t good enough – thin enough, pretty enough, happy enough, secure enough.”
We look for approval in others. This behavior basically projects our inner dissatisfaction with ourselves in the hope that some outside authority will lift it from our souls. Here the loveless inner voice is saying, “Don’t make a move until the right person comes along.” (The right person in this case is some fairy-tale character who will tap the ugly duckling and turn it into a swan.) Being an impossible fiction, that right person never arrives.
We assume that falling in love is totally magical, a stroke from the blue that will come at random, usually when least expected. Many people wait passively for this magic to appear. Although masked as hope, this passivity is really a form of hopelessness. The hope that someone will reach out to us and bestow love is a surrender of our ability to create our own lives.
Finally, we rely on love to remove the obstacles that keep it away. All sorts of unloving behaviors are allowed to persist with the attitude that we will become affectionate, open, trusting, and intimate only by a touch of love’s magic wand. The underlying belief is that we can pick and choose whom to love, leaving the rejected in a limbo of indifference.
Can we find another way to approach romance, without fantasy and fear, without listening to the fearful voice inside ourselves that finds a way to keep love at a distance?
Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).