In my early 20s, I worked as a matchmaker (sales director & coordinator) for It's Just Lunch! It was the job that taught me profound lessons on how to be human. For 2 years+, I traveled up and down the west coast to interview successful singles from all walks of life to learn their successes and failures in love and life. One night, I stayed at my boss's home in Reno and found The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship: A Toltec Wisdom Book by Miguel Ruiz. I quickly skimmed this story because the title sounded interesting. I did not know the story would stay with me for a lifetime. I think about this story often and would love to hear your thoughts:
I want to tell you a very old story about the man who didn't believe in love. He was an ordinary man, just like you, but what made this man special was his way of thinking: he thought love wouldn't exist. Of course, he had tried for a long time to find love, he had observed the people around him, much of his life had been spent searching for love, only to find that love didn't exist.
Wherever this man went, he used to tell people that love is nothing but an invention of poets and religion, just to manipulate the weak mind of humans, and to gain control over them. He said that love is nothing for real, and is thus impossible to be found, even though he might be looking for it.
This man was highly intelligent and he could talk very convincingly. He read a lot of books, he went to the best universities, and he became a respected scholar. He could speak everywhere, in front of any kind of people, and his logic was very conclusive. What he said was that love is just like a drug; it makes you feel happy, but it creates a strong need. But what happens when you become highly addicted to love, and you don't receive your daily doses of love?
He used to say that most relationships between lovers are just like a relationship between a drug addict and the one who provides the drugs. The one who has the biggest need is like the drug addict; the one who has lesser needs is like the provider. This is the one who controls the whole relationship. You can see this dynamic so clearly because usually in every relationship, there is one partner who is very much in love, while the other one is much less. This leads to the latter one taking advantage of the one who gives his or her heart. You can see the way they manipulate each other, through their actions and reactions, just like the provider and the drug addict.
The drug addict, the one who has the biggest need, lives in constant fear that perhaps he will not be able to get the next dosage of love. He/she thinks, "what am I going to do if he/she will leave me?" That fear makes the drug addict very possessive. The addict becomes jealous and demanding. The provider can always control and manipulate the one who is longing for the drug, by administering higher or lower doses, or maybe none at all. The one who has the biggest need completely surrenders and will do whatever he can to avoid being abandoned.
The man of our story went on explaining to everyone why love doesn't exist.
"What humans call `love' is nothing but a relationship based on fear and control. Where is the respect? Where is the love they claim to have? There is no love. Young couples, in front of the representation of God and in front of their families and friends, make a lot of promises to one another: to live together forever, to love and respect each other, to stand in for one another, through good times and bad. They promise to love and honor each other... and make promises and more promises. What is amazing is that they really believe those promises. For some time after marriage, for a few weeks or months, all those promises are kept one by one.
"Then you'll have a war of control, of manipulation, just in order to establish who will be the provider, and who will the addict. A few months later, the respect they swore to have for each other is gone. You can see the resentment, the emotional poison, how they're hurting each other, until they don't know when the love will stop. Nevertheless, they'll stay together because they are afraid to be alone, afraid of the opinion and judgment of others, as well as their own. But where is love?"
That man used to claim that he saw many old couples that had lived together thirty years, forty years, and they were so proud of it. But when they talked about themselves, what they said was, "we have survived matrimony." That means one of them had surrendered to the other; at a certain time, she gave up and decided to endure the suffering. The one with the strongest will, and a lesser dependency, won the war, but where is that flame they call love? They treat each other like a possession:
"She is mine."
"He is mine."
The man went on and on about all the reasons why he believed love didn't exist, and he told others, "I have lived through all that already. I will no longer allow anyone to manipulate my mind, and control my life in the name of love." His arguments were quite logical, and he convinced many people with all his words: Love doesn't exist.
Then one day this man was walking in a park, he saw on a bench there was a beautiful lady who was crying. He got curious and, sitting besides her, he asked if he could be of any help. You can imagine his surprise when she told him that she was crying because she had just realized that love doesn't exist.
He said, "This is amazing, a woman who believes that love doesn't exist!"
Of course, he wanted to know more about her.
"Why do you say that love doesn't exist?" he asked.
"Well, it's a long story," she replied.
"I got married when I was very young, with all the love, all those illusions. I believed I would share my life with this man. We swore to each other our loyalty, respect, and honor, and we created a family. But soon everything changed. I was the devoted wife who took care of the children and the home. My husband continued to develop his career. His success and image outside of home were more important to him than our family. He lost respect for me, and I lost respect for him. We hurt each other, and at a certain point I discovered that I didn't love him anymore, and he didn't love me anymore either.
"But the children needed a father, and that was my excuse to stay and to do whatever I could to support him. Now the children are grown and they have left. I no longer have any excuse to stay with him. There's no respect, there's no kindness. I know that even if I find someone else, it's going to be the same, because love doesn't exist. There is no sense to look around for something that doesn't exist, so that’s why I am crying."
The man understood her very well.
He embraced her and said, "You are right; love doesn't exist. We look for love, we open our heart, we become vulnerable, and in the end all we find is selfishness. That hurts us even when we don't think we will be hurt. It doesn't matter how many times we try; it happens again and again. Why even search for love any longer?"
They were so much alike, and they became the best friends ever. It was a wonderful relationship. They respected each other, and they never put each other down. With every step they took together, they were happy. There was no envy or jealousy, there was no control, there was no possessiveness. The relationship kept growing and growing. They loved to be together, because when they were together, they had a lot of fun. When they were not together, they were missing each other.
One day when the man was out of town, he had the weirdest idea. "Maybe what I feel for her is love.” he thought, “But this is so different from what I have ever felt before. It's not what poets or religion say it was, because I am not feeling myself responsible for her. I don't ask anything of her, I don't want her to take care of me. I will not blame her for difficulties I may encounter, or unload any of my dramas on her, we just have the best of times together, and we enjoy a lot being with each other. I respect the way she thinks and she never is embarrassing me. I don't feel jealous when she's with other people, I don't feel envy for her success. Perhaps love does exist after all, but it's obviously not what everyone believes love to be."
He could hardly wait to go back home and talk to her, to let her know about his weird idea. As soon as they started talking, she said, "I know exactly what you are talking about. I had the same idea long ago, but I didn't want to share it with you because I know you don't believe in love. Perhaps love does exist, but it isn't what we thought it was."
They decided to become lovers and to live together, and it was amazing that things didn't change. They still respected each other, they were still supportive of each other, and the love grew more and more. Even the simplest things made their hearts sing with love because they were so happy.
The man's heart was so full with all the love he felt that one night a great miracle happened. He was looking at the stars and he found the most beautiful one, and his love was so big that the star started coming down from the sky and soon that star was in his hands. Then a second miracle happened and his soul merged with that star. He was intensely happy, and he could hardly wait to go to the woman and put that star in her hands.
As soon as he did, she felt a moment of doubt: that love was overwhelming. While that thought crossed her mind, the star fell from her hands and broke into millions of small pieces.
Now there is an old man walking around the world, swearing that love doesn't exist. And there is a beautiful old woman at home waiting for a man, shedding tears for a paradise that once she had in her hands, but for one moment of doubt, she had let it go.
This is the story about the man who didn't believe in love. Who made the mistake? Do you want to guess what went wrong? The mistake was on the man's part in thinking he could give the woman his happiness. The star was his happiness, and his mistake was to put his happiness in her hands. Happiness never comes from outside of us. He was happy because of the love coming out of him; she was happy because of the love coming out of her. But as soon as he made her responsible for his happiness, she broke the star because she could not be responsible for his happiness.
No matter how much the woman loved him, she could never make him happy because she could never know what he had in mind. She could never know what his expectations were, because she could not know his dreams.
If you take your happiness and put it into another person's hands, sooner or later he or she is going to break it. If you pass your happiness on to someone else, it can always be carried away. Happiness can only come from inside of you, and it is the result of your love, and you are responsible for your own happiness. We can never hold anyone responsible for our own happiness, but when we go to the church to get married, the first thing we do is exchange rings. We put our star in each other's hands, expecting that she is going to make you happy, and you are going to make her happy. It doesn't matter how much you love someone, you are never going to be what that person wants you to be. (Emphasis added by Di.)
That is the mistake most of us make right from the beginning. We base our happiness on our partner, and it doesn't work that way. We make all those promises that we cannot keep, and we set ourselves up to fail.