What do you do, when you meet somebody you think may become a love partner?
Pop lyrics describe the surface reactions at length, but underneath it’s likely that you’ll start a checklist. You’ll want to check if s/he is going to give you what’s missing from your life.
If you are looking for stability, you will ask if s/he is going to be a rock. If you are looking for financial security, money will go onto your list. If you feel you are weak in spiritual dialogue, you will itemize his/her spiritual qualities. You will also ask, is s/he loving, strong, or weak? Or, weak enough so that you feel strong? It is often a very long checklist.
Then you will score your list by points. Your overall score will tell you whether s/he will fulfill all of your needs, to be loved, to feel secure, to belong. Whether s/he will fit with who you are (insert self description here, like educated, wild, conservative, introverted, family oriented).
When we perceive ourselves as being incomplete, we constantly look for another to complete us. In the language of love, the phrase “you complete me” is a common one.
Making your list is the first step in the business of love: preparing to barter.
The deal on the table is, “I will love you if you will provide me with all the missing parts that I need to be a complete person.”
Building your checklist starts from the first moment of meeting, and you will modify and add to it throughout the days, weeks, months-even longer-until you know either way.
Or think you do.
Maybe the candidate passes the “checklist of acceptance” stage, and is willing to barter. That is, when s/he has done a checklist on you, and you have passed.
You both move to the second stage of the contract, testing whether expectations will be fulfilled.
For example, you will test out clauses that say, “I expect you to make me:
feel like I belong
feel I am desirable
If one of the parties fails to fulfill the other’s expectations, then pain, frustration, disappointment and anger will arise. The deal might begin to fall apart right here.
If the second stage does work (for a while, anyway) you’ll likely move up to Stage 3 of the deal. Here are the clauses that require the other to “become just like me.”
You should think like me
You should love like me
You should act like me
You should desire like me
You should dream like me
You should clean the kitchen like I do
You should be like me
The business approach to love is a process of barter: it is always conditional. Every time you draft a contract to love that’s based on your own needs, you write the conditions for potential suffering. The moment one of the signatories in the love contract does not receive their part of the bargain, the so-called “love” starts fading.
By contrast, true love can’t fade or stop. True love is unconditional and can exist only when you feel complete in yourself. True love manifests from this experience of oneness. Loving others means loving yourself: accepting your failings, inadequacies, or needs and no longer requiring someone else to complete them. True love means you may dislike people’s behavior or not agree with their actions but it will not affect the love and compassion that you experience towards them.
When you look back at your love relationships that failed, with people that you thought you loved intensely, you may be puzzled that you don’t anymore. The more you feel you loved them then, the more likely it is, now, that you actually feel resentment or hate towards them.
If this happens, then you should know you never loved them from the beginning. You were simply involved in the business of love.
When you look back at your life, can you say that you ever truly loved? Unconditionally and without needs?
Prana Yoga College