The Truth About Relationships
The Truth About Relationships
(From "The Truth About Relationships")
We can do a lot more to improve our relationships when we truly understand what a relationship is. A relationship is the natural result of people making independent choices.
We need to discuss the two important phrases in the definition of a relationship. First "independent choices."
Everyone has the right to choose what they say and do.
That is the Law of Choice. It's the most fundamental principle of relationships. Nothing is more important than our ability to choose for ourselves. Imagine what our lives would be like if that were taken from us. We wouldn't be individuals at all, only tools in the hands of those who made our choices for us.
A painting is composed of countless individual brush strokes. Similarly, who we are is a result of all the choices we have made over a lifetime. Every decision has made us more alone or loved, angry or happy, weak or strong. In our infancy, other people applied those strokes to the canvas of our lives, but with time, we increasingly took the brush into our own hands. From all those choices, we've created a canvas with a unique color, which includes our personality and style, our needs and fears, and even our Getting and Protecting Behaviors.
When we mix blue and yellow paint, the natural result is green. Green isn't something we hope for or even work for. It just happens every time we mix blue and yellow. Similarly, relationships naturally result from the blending of the colors of each partner, colors produced by the choices each partner has made independently over a lifetime. If I'm yellow and you're blue, our relationship will be green. It doesn't matter that I want our relationship to be orange, or that you want it to be turquoise. The result will be green.
Our relationships are therefore often not what we expect or want them to be, just as expectations and desires are completely irrelevant when mixing two colors of paint. Relationships can only be the result of the choices we've already made. If two people have been unconditionally loved and have made a lifetime of unconditionally loving choices, they will have a mutually loving relationship. However, if they have not been unconditionally loved, they will choose to get Imitation Love and protect themselves, and the result of those choices in a relationship cannot be loving. It can only be the natural result of the interaction of all their Getting and Protecting Behaviors -- and that is never happiness.
The Purpose of Relationships
As we talk about relationships, it's helpful to understand the only useful purpose of any relationship: receiving and giving Real Love. There is no greater joy than being loved and loving others. Nothing else comes close. Any relationship that doesn't contribute to feeling loved or loving others is a waste of time and happiness.
Joan was angry as she spoke about her husband Tyler to a wise friend. Remember that a wise man is anyone who feels sufficiently loved in a given moment that he or she can unconditionally accept and love another person (2:10). I'll be using the term "wise man" a lot. We can all learn to find wise men and women for ourselves. They're everywhere, and we'll talk more about that in Chapter 12.
Joan: "The man lives like a pig. He throws his stuff all over the floor, and then I have to clean up after him. I've talked to him about it a million times, but he never listens."
Wise man: "So you want Tyler to be neater and more considerate of you. Is that right?"
Wise man: "Then your relationship is doomed. Relationships result from the choices people make independently. Tyler has chosen to be a pig, and he gets to make that choice, even if it's inconvenient for you. He's almost certainly been a pig all his life, long before he met you. But that doesn't make you a helpless victim here. You still have your own choice to make."
Joan: "What choice do I have?"
Wise man: "As I see it, you can make one of three:
(1) live with the pig and like it;
(2) live with the pig and hate it; or
(3) leave the pig."
Joan: "But . . ."
Wise man: "There is no 'but.' You want a fourth choice, to stop him from being a pig. But that would violate Tyler's right to choose (6:1). A world without choice would be a horrible place for everyone. You only get to make choices that involve your behavior, not his."
Most of us are like Joan.
We're dissatisfied with our partners for many reasons, and we want to change
them. But relationships are not determined by what we want from our partners.
They're determined by the choices that we and our partners have already made
Continue to: The Four Choices
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