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What Makes Love Last?

Image of 2 senior citizens strolling through a park. Raleigh Psychotherapy, counseling, Katherine Broadway, love

Being able to fall in love does not mean that you can remain in love.

Being passionately in love, having a great romance, having a great friendship, will not guarantee that love will last. When you are passionate in love or feel that you cannot live without someone, it often seems like the feelings will never end. However, none of these guarantee that love will last. In fact, idealizing the person you love becomes the surest road to the death of a relationship.

In order to make a relationship last, you have to start by developing a deep and long-lasting relationship with yourself. You need to have empathy and understanding for yourself which opens up avenues for caring for others. This means that you empathize with the other person’s pain and joy; you recognize that we are all human and live under the same limitations.

Here's the problem

Currently, we live in a culture that promotes the ideal. We're told that only the ideal is good enough: the ideal man, the ideal woman, the ideal job, or the ideal life. The fantasy perpetuated by fairy tales, the media, and modern-day entitlement says we are supposed to live happily ever after with our Prince Charming or beautiful Princess.

On an unconscious level, we come to believe that we have to be ideal and we must have the ideal. Anything less, we're told, is not enough and we deserve more. However, our conscious minds tell a different story. There we tell ourselves that no one is perfect and that we are looking for mature, independent friends and partners.

Conflicting Messages

Those conflicting messages set us up for disappointment. Whether we like it or not, on the unconscious level, we are looking for someone who can complete us, care for us, and love us without conflict or difference. Yet we are surprised when we are disappointed in what we find, whether it's friends, partners, jobs or life in general.

When we look for someone or something to make us happy, we miss the joy that's all around us. Instead of finding what we think we want, we see hurt, disappointment and pain. We kill love and relationships.

Having a strong relationship with yourself gives you the tools to navigate the different messages. The ability to make yourself happy frees you to appreciate the joy in others. Knowing how to care for yourself allows you to truly care about others as people just like you.

5 Behaviors That Keep Love Alive

When you have a relationship with yourself, you are prepared to take on the 5 behaviors that can keep love alive.

1. The ability to experience guilt or concern, and a desire to repair hurt caused by your behavior. Our hurtful behavior and the guilt it causes us will find a home in our heart and block our ability to love.

2. A willingness to self-soothe so that you can repair and forgive hurt. It takes self-care to be brave enough to face the hurt that comes in any relationship. It is through self-care that we are able to approach our friends and partners to talk to them when they hurt us.

3. The ability to accurately see and assess who another person is rather than seeing them as who we want them to be. As we recognize the flaws in ourselves and others, we can use our strengths to compliment one another and create a fuller more fulfilling life.

4. The ability to value another person’s needs and desires as equal to your own, not greater than or less than yours. The purpose of relationships is for the betterment of all involved. This is accomplished as we value one another.

5. The ability to mourn the ideal. Letting go of what we think we should have in love and friendship and accept what reality is.

We are all flawed and wounded human beings doing the best we can to find our way through life and move toward healing, wholeness and happiness. Remaining friends, remaining lovers, remaining married, remaining in love is a continual choice.

There are always disappointments, betrayals, disagreements and conflict in any relationship. There will always be someone or something better than what we have. We must be able to grieve the loss of that ideal and appreciate what we have found. In the end, we all settle, and that is the way to true love.

Good enough is truly the ideal.

Do you have trouble being able to value yourself and others when things get difficult in a relationship? I can help you value yourself. Call me: (919) 881-2001.

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