Being In Love vs. Loving

by Peter Milhado PHD on August 9, 2013

Love2What happens when we ‘fall in love’ and the person we fall in love with appears quite ordinary and human to everyone else, but becomes a goddess or god to us, filled with an aura of translucent grace, beauty and holiness?  It’s that state of madness poets have been telling us about throughout history and has been the cause of entire nations going to war with each other.  It seems only religious fanaticism, fascism, bigotry and recently corporate greed have caused more havoc and tragedy on this planet.

John Sandford tells us that a man carries within himself an image of a woman.  When he is ‘in love’, he projects the image of his inner woman onto the woman he loves.  In other words when he falls ‘in love’ with a woman, he is, in fact, only in love with himself.  He is in a state of possession, and becomes totally fascinated with her and feels incomplete without her.  Many men want to be in love with a goddess and the euphoria it brings, but are not capable of loving a real woman.  It is an unconscious and instinctual relationship and the woman just becomes an extension of himself as he tries to fit her in a box to live up to his selfish expectations.  He doesn’t love her for her own sake, but as someone who is to make him happy, that is, as an all-accepting and unconditionally affirming mother figure.  If she lets him down in any way he frequently leaves her.

Being ‘in love’ is a state of projected narcissism, whereas ‘loving’ means getting to know and appreciating the woman for herself and who she actually is.  Unless ‘being in love’ is followed by the second stage called ‘loving’, a man’s love remains infantile and self-centered.  It is only a variation of his mother complex, which requires the woman to unconditionally accept his immature and wounded self-image.

A man has to free himself from the attachment to mother or her replacement.  He has to be able to relate to a woman as his contemporary; otherwise he remains stuck in the role of a demanding and dependent child.  Of course, the same holds true of women when they fall ‘in love’ as they project their own inner soul image of the masculine on the man and are therefore stuck in some form of their own father complex.

As always Thomas Moore brings us a different slant on the ‘in love’ state, when he says that we fall ‘in love’ with the divinity of the other person, a divinity which is in all of us.  I’m sure, however, he would agree with the blissful petals of the rose of love also comes the pain of the brambles.  By the time we reach our middle years there are not too many of us who’ve not lost quite a few quarts of blood in the arena of romantic love.  The ‘in love’ stage doesn’t last.  After a year or two we come crashing down to earth and this is one of the most painful experiences in life.  It’s that time when we find out our partner is not a goddess or god, but quite an ordinary human being who carries a ‘shadow’ including selfishness, greed, arrogance, laziness etc., which all of us have.  At this point there are three possibilities:

(1). One of the partners leaves.  Many are addicted to the ‘in love’ stage, and look for another goddess or god, leaving the one behind with a broken heart.

(2).  They stay together due to fear of aloneness and the sticky glue of neurotic dependency.  They become strangers to each other, a very despairing and tragic condition.

(3). They actually begin to reflect, look within, do the inner Shadow work, stay related and talk with each other.  Both partners need to do this, one obviously can’t do it for the other, even though many attempt it.  Then, the inflated ‘in love’ stage is replaced by the ‘loving’ stage. At this point the relationship gets deeper like a river and continually becomes more soulful.

One for all and all for one

Peter Milhado © 2013

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: