By THEBOSTONBACHELOR.COM / December 24, 2007
In tribute to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Spanakopita Day, or whatever holiday you celebrate, here’s some brilliant words of wisdom from Owen Cook’s The Blueprint. Enjoy.
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A poor guy has an identity crisis. Maybe the problem starts when he gets a feeling that a girl might like him. He imagines a connection with her and all sorts of shared experiences that don’t exist yet.
He thinks that there’s all this unspoken sexual tension going on beneath the surface. He even pictures his girl when he listens to all the romantic songs on the radio. But inevitably, he figures out that his projection doesn’t exist in any shared reality that includes the girl. To realize that it’s all in his head – that the girl doesn’t actually reciprocate the way that he feels… or think about him while he’s thinking about her… It’s a hard pill to swallow.
Let’s imagine instead that our poor guy already has a girlfriend. The problems start for him when he finds out that she’s been cheating. He’d idealized the relationship. It felt good. In order to stay infatuated with his girl, he had screened out any sketchiness and focused on her best attributes and the most fun times that they’d had. Together, he and his girl had come up with all sorts of shared idealizations that had made their relationship strong.
There were many things that they’d expressed to one another as a way of reinforcing their love. They remembered the first place that they’d met, gone out, and had sex. They had a special reason for why they’d met and were still together, that other couples didn’t have. Their “thing.” It wasn’t something that they could get from anyone else, so they could feel totally secure to feel their love without fear of loss. It was not replaceable.
And to make it even stronger, they had continually re-articulated to one another that it would last… “FOREVER.”
What’s funny is that when it ends, all of these special feelings might still be there. It’s just that there are now all of these new, bad feelings that go along with them. He wants to feel like he did before. His reality comes crashing down around him. He reaches out for his girl to validate their old shared reality, but she is gone from him. The girl that existed for him no longer exists. She was a figment of his imagination. The face that he saw was one of many faces that she had.
He doesn’t realize it, but he has many such faces himself. We all have different faces for people who have a different value to us. Are you the same person when you talk to a pushy vagrant asking for spare change as you are when you talk to your mother? How would a person’s experience of you differ, depending on their value to you? What he saw in her was the face that a person shows to someone who has value to them. It is such an easy face to look at. Like looking into the mirror, and seeing the most beautiful face in the entire world.
“Wait… She’s not seeing things clearly. What about our ‘thing?’ Doesn’t she realize that she can’t get it from him? Nobody can love her like I can. Hang on. She fucked this new guy the first time they hung out? OK, that just doesn’t make sense because she said that she always waited three months with a guy to make it special. What?! She fucked him on the couch where we had our first time together?! No. That was the special couch. Doesn’t this bitch remember that that was the SPECIAL COUCH?!?!”
He rationalizes that she’s just confused. He won’t give up on love. He resolves to “win her back.” But he has gone from being her boyfriend to being more like all those other guys from her fan club. He is everything that her new guy is not.
And she feels a little bad for him, for sure. But as she walks out the door from the “one last meeting” that he begged her for, her face of pity turns into a beaming smile for her new guy waiting outside to pick her up.
She goes on and enjoys her life without a thought. He sits around thinking about her, pining for a girl who doesn’t share his reality anymore. And though he will never admit it to himself, deep down he sees the worst of himself in her. Because under different circumstances, he knows that he might have done the same thing. Maybe if their relationship had staled. Or if he had met a certain other girl. So he mopes around for a while, until the feelings of emptiness start to subside. Then, once he’s ready, he begins the process of re-establishing himself.
He shifts his focus from his loss to superficial areas in which he can improve himself. He focuses on his status conveying intermediaries such as his credentials, career, property, vehicle, clothing, jewelry, and so on. He’s a together guy. He’ll get it under control. Time passes. His life improves to an extent. But he is still alone.
Through our social conditioning, we come to understand “love” in a way that’s often more focused towards idealism than it is towards accurately defining the phenomenon. Writers and philosophers have long debated the meaning of the term, without ever coming to any consensus. In some cultures, there are even multiple words used to define “love.”
Many people conceive of love as having supernatural properties. They might believe that every person has only one perfect soulmate. Or that true love will always last forever. Or that people can fall in love only a certain number of times. They might even believe that fate will cause love to “just happen” when the time is right. With faith that there are such powerful forces at work, it isn’t surprising that people will often intensify their feelings with the belief that they are following their hearts.
Think back to the last time that you felt that you were in love. How did you know? Was it a feeling of attraction? Was it a feeling of connection? Was it a feeling of lust? Was it feeling of physical attachment? Was it a feeling of underlying one-ness? Was it feeling of anxious emotional co-dependence? Was it a combination of those things? Is love an old couple sitting on their porch, comfortable in their long established routines? Is it two teenagers locked in passion in the back seat or their car, scrambling for a condom? Is it a pair of newlyweds, gazing into each other’s eyes as they take their matrimonial vows?
It’s often said that love is self-hypnosis; a beautiful psychosis that takes hold and prompts us to act in ways that we would otherwise not even consider. Love is not something that is caused by another person. We cause it in ourselves. As we loop our thoughts over and over around our concept of a particular person, our mind shifts the way that we perceive them and finds ways to make sense of it. Suddenly, everything seems so simple. It’s love. And as it takes hold, our physical body follows suit, spinning and intensifying our emotional chemistry until we are fully enraptured.
For some people, love can be an opportunity to have a partner on their journey. It can be a chance for them to fully experience and understand another person, and to have that person do the same for them in return. A loving relationship between two people can be healthy and cultivate spiritual and physical growth. It can be one of the most pleasurable and important experiences that a person has over the course of his or her entire life.
But that depends on whether or not the person is ready for it. Because the idea of love can also be destructive. For some people, it can be a self-deception that they can focus on as a way to avoid facing their shortcomings. People will often rationalize that any strong emotional reaction that they feel towards another person is a sign that they are “in love.”
They might have worked themselves into an infatuation with someone who doesn’t reciprocate their interest, and rationalized that it’s something that would make them feel complete. They might desperately crave a person’s attention, and rationalize the anxious feeling of need for their approval as being love-butterflies fluttering around in their stomach. In a relationship, they might leave their partner, because they rationalize that their loss of novel infatuation is a sign that they have fallen out of love. And later, they might have trouble finding someone new, and rationalize that they lost the love of their life.
There are people who will fall in love with anyone who will have them. They are eager, and in love with the idea of being in love. There are other people who fear falling in love. They are jaded, and create emotional barriers to prevent themselves from being hurt in the future. Ultimately, people process their experiences through a fog of emotions, and create and intensify these occurrences in their own minds.
As we said, a person can feel an increase in their sense of acceptance by being in a specific situation. And in the same way, a person can feel an increase in their value by being with a specific person.
When a person’s sense of acceptance and identity is tied up in another person, they are dependent on that person to feel good about themselves. And because of that, they become reactive in their relationship. They focus their thoughts more towards the pain of possibly losing the other person than on the pleasure of being themselves. Once that happens, their behaviour becomes less attractive to their partner, and their partner’s feeling of love towards them begins to subside. Perhaps then, it is only the person who doesn’t need social acceptance to feel good, who can really appreciate being in love. Is it possible, that it is only when you don’t need love that you will find it?
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-The Boston Bachelor