Today I wanted to write about how it feels to be in a relationship with a narcissist, because that is one of the topics covered in the book. However, spring is in the air, love and the bees and the flowers and the trees, so I thought I should rather share some thoughts about love and being in love. About romantic love, that is.
I am a staunch believer in the power of love and am convinced that being happily in love is the most wonderful feeling in the world. That is probably why I absolutely adore springtime when everything and everyone is blossoming and blooming, literally and figuratively. Therefore, I get somewhat annoyed whenever I read that being in love is actually a pathological state. As if love were a disease we do not wish to contract. When has being in love become a dirty word? While we can love many people, we are not usually in love with several people at once. This is what distinguishes an intimate relationship from a platonic, albeit loving, one. No matter how much we love someone, if we haven't experienced the being-in-love state of mind with that person, the love relationship won't last. If you don't get that warm, fuzzy feeling and if you have zero desire to touch or undress the person of your affection, then this is just a close relationship with someone you feel an affinity with.
They also say that the butterflies in your stomach only lasts about six months, which coincides with the prescription date for being in love. After that it supposedly doesn't matter who you end up in a couple with because other things are more important than love. Well, that is what some authors believe, honestly. I just roll my eyes when I read that, but they claim we could live in a happy, satisfactory and fulfilling relationship with just about anyone in the world so long as we made an effort. That chemistry plays no role in a relationship. Excuse me, but that must be the greatest nonsense I have ever heard. I agree that love by itself often isn't enough, that there must be other common interests, values, beliefs and a shared purpose and vison in life if we wish to have a long-term relationship with someone. I also agree that during the first six or however many months when we are intensely in love with someone – and can hear the grass grow and see nothing but positive qualities in our partner due to our rose colored glasses – we are in a slightly modified emotional state of mind. However, I strongly disagree that these feelings can only last for the six months and then disappear, never to return. Or that they are not as true and valuable as we believe them to be. I have loved and been in love with my partner for well over a decade. I still get the butterflies when I see him, my heart still skips a beat, my knees still get weak. Not every day and not all the time, but I am certainly still in love with him, head over heals. If a relationship plays out at a cognitive level only and doesn't resonate at the emotional and sexual level then it is a mere partnership, not an intimate relationship. Yes, we can all probably make it work with many people, but these relationships will never be intimate love relationships which bring joy and color to our lives. If you don't believe being in love with someone matters, then ask yourself this: who would you choose, person A with qualities XYZ, for whom you feel love and affection, or person B with the same qualities, for whom you feel love and affection and who you are utterly and completely smitten with?
Since I wrote a book that deals primarily with toxic relationships, it is only appropriate for me to dedicate my first blog to relationships. This is undoubtedly an extremely complex and complicated subject, and different viewpoints on it abound. When it comes to relationships, we all have our own experiences, perceptions, desires, wishes, expectations, requirements and red lines. Many people take on a markedly different persona from their usual one when they are in a couple. Have you ever noticed that people behave and act differently when they are single or when you meet them without their partner? More often than not, they seem to be more genuine and in line with there true self. However, once they are in a couple, they often act out of character, at least to a certain extent and in certain areas of their life. They either try to overly adapt to the their partner, or force their partner to fit the idealized perception they have of them. Either way, these two strategies lead nowhere but to dissatisfaction and fighting in the long run.
The majority of couples I know, or have encountered, are not healthy ones. Unfortunately, that is the reality of the modern-day coupledom. It does not necessarily mean that they are toxic or severely damaging to both partners, but they certainly do not contribute to an emotionally serene life nor to personal growth. More often than not, relationships are a battle field where partners try to get the upper hand and settle scores. Or at the very least, they get on each other's nerves more often than not. Instead of cooperation, respect and love, there are competition, rivalry and envy present, and they play out at conscious or unconscious levels. Many relationships are not partnerships but resemble ownerships. Partners try to control each other, take advantage of one another, and stay together for all the wrong reasons – ouf of fear of being left alone, to avoid public humiliation and judgment, because of financial reasons, for the sake of children, out of comfort, the list goes on and on. Any excuse comes handy when they try to rationalize why they are staying in an unhappy and unfulfilling relationship with a person they have stopped loving a long time ago, or have never truly loved at all. The longer the partners have been together, the more resentment and bitterness they feel. Instead of letting go and moving on, they get hooked to one another and engage in the game of push and pull, causing frustration and disappointment.
There are many reasons why the current state of affairs in the love department is so bleak. I will tackle them in the following blogs, because they are the elements that usually play a decisive role in making a relatioship a success or a failure. In my opinion, the fundamental ingredients of a healthy relationship are love, respect, patience, understanding, interest in one another, communication, loyalty and reliability. Cheating, lies, deception, punishment, ignorance have no place in a loving relationship. If being in a couple with your partner does not contribute to a greater quality of your life, to a happier and more fulfilled life, to your personal growth, then the relationship is probably not going to last and will cause more damage to you as time goes by. In this case it is better to take heed of an Italian saying that goes »meglio sola che mal accompagnata.«