Discarding illusions to find a state of balanced love

There are times when it is important to be soft, and times when it is vital to be tough. Many of us do not realize that the greatest relationship we could have is the one that offers both support and challenge.

There are times when it is important to be soft, and times when it is vital to be tough. Many of us do not realize that the greatest relationship we could have is the one that offers both support and challenge.

by Dr. John Demartini — 

Imagine you were dating or married to someone who only said, “I think you’re wonderful. You are always right. Can I do anything for you? You are the best there is, and anyone who cannot see that is crazy. You are perfect exactly the way you are.” You might initially see this as a dream come true, but if you gave it a bit more thought, you would realize the downsides to such a one-sided perspective.

In reality, if all your partner did was support, support, support you, you would eventually do whatever you could to confront and challenge them. In fact, Mr. or Ms. Nice automatically becomes the doormat — people tend to walk all over them.

Perennially nice people — who only express their positive, altruistic, happy sides — actually devalue themselves. On the other side of the coin, someone who receives nothing but support from their overgiving partner will eventually say, “This is not working. I need somebody who can stand up to me. I want some challenge.”

There are times when it is important to be soft, and times when it is vital to be tough. Many of us do not realize that the greatest relationship we could have is the one that offers both support and challenge. If we received nothing but support, we would have a very stunted relationship. We need that balance of support and challenge, of positive and negative feedback, in order to grow and evolve. If two people in a relationship are too similar, then one of them is unnecessary.

From a state of balanced love, you can enjoy the whole spectrum of emotions without being attached to any of them in particular. Even if your goal is to have only pleasure and laughter in your relationship, you still will inevitably experience tears and pain. Every relationship is a balance of the two. The most miserable people I know are the ones seeking only happiness.

Similarly, if you attempt to live in a fantasy, you’ll become frustrated and disillusioned with others because you’ll keep trying to make them fit an ideal that simply does not exist. For example, if you’re not satisfied with your partner or can never seem to find the right type of person, it may be because you are comparing them to some ideal partner, and then punishing them for not living up to your fantasy.

Many years ago, I had a wealthy female client in New York City. She’d written an exact and exhaustive list of the qualities of her ideal man. It ran like this:

“I will not even date a man unless he has a minimum of $15 million, is at least 6’1”, has brown hair and eyes, owns a large company, is socially prominent, has at least one beautiful house, loves the finest in everything, is utterly devoted to pampering me, is willing to massage me at night …” Her list was full of positives, but didn’t have any negatives. It was a list no human being could ever fulfill.

After reading the list, I said, “Rachael, I have seen your criteria, and I do not think such a man exists.”

She said, “That is just because you do not measure up. I will find him.” She was looking for an idealized, Hollywood version of her fantasy, but she kept attracting gigolos who deceived her with big stories. In reality, they did not have jobs or money, used drugs, expected her to support them, slept with her and then seduced her friends. They were the virtual opposite of her fantasy. However, they were physically strong and sexually attractive. Because of this, she kept falling for them, telling herself each time that the right man had finally come along, or that she could form them into her ideal man.

This scenario replayed itself for a number of years. Then she called me a couple years ago: “Dr. Demartini, is there any way you can come to Hawaii for my wedding? I have finally found my man!”

I said, “Really? I am booked in Europe and cannot make it, but congratulations!” In the back of my mind, I thought, “I have got to meet this guy.” Sometime later, I bumped into her in a fine California resort. “So Rachael,” I asked, “how is married life?”

“Oh well … it did not work out.”

“But I thought he was the man of your dreams.”

“Ahhh … he turned out to be another SOB. Gotta go. Bye!”

She did not want to talk about it — but what she had done was again become infatuated and put another man on the pedestal, expecting him to live up to her unrealistic expectations.

Just like Rachael, many men and women have romantic fantasies about their perfect partner. Some women fantasize about the knight in shining armor who scoops them up in his arms, a rose in his teeth, and carries them off to his castle for mad, passionate lovemaking. In reality, what they get is a guy who also has a big belly and scratches his butt — a guy who is just being a guy. But they punish him for it because he doesn’t match their fantasy.

Men believe the fantasy that a girl is supposed to be beautiful, sexy, nurturing and stay 30 years old for the rest of her life. When she does not, they punish her or leave her for being human. This perspective winds up costing them love if they stay and money if they go.

Every human being you’ll ever have a relationship with will, at times, be both nice and mean, supportive and challenging, pleasureful and painful, attractive and repulsive. The true purpose of a relationship is not happiness; it is fulfillment, a combination of happiness and sadness. If we are seeking only happiness or sadness, we are only looking for half-fillment. When we look for fulfillment, we can appreciate both aspects.

Both sides, pleasure and pain, make up the dynamic called love. If you have a fantasy that love is only supposed to be one-sided, you’ll reject half of love and won’t embrace the whole experience.


Dr. John F. Demartini is the author of Count Your Blessings, The Healing Power of Gratitude and Love and The Breakthrough Experience: A Revolutionary New Approach to Personal Transformation. He is the founder of the Concourse of Wisdom School of Self-Mastery and Leadership and the creator of “The Breakthrough Experience.” 888-DEMARTINI or www.drdemartini.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 1, February/March 2006.

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