At the end of a relationship we often wonder what went wrong. We try to figure out what happened. We may feel tricked because it looks like our partner changed for the worse. We often feel unlucky in love and pursue the next person without ever questioning that assumption.
And the ‘unlucky-in-love’ assumption is wrong … The main reason why relationships fail is because we don’t enter that relationship with the other person but with our fantasy of who we think they are or who we think they can become.
We tell ourselves that we can see the good in them, that we see potential in them that they themselves or others don’t see. We basically lie to ourselves. And we tell ourselves that we’ve fallen in love.
But we’ve fallen in love with the thought-created version of the other person and not the other person. Because they are who they are and not what our thoughts want them to be.
“People tell you who they are, but we ignore it, because we want them to be who we want them to be.” Don Draper
Then every time they say or do something that does not fit with our model of them, we complain, sulk or feel disappointed. We may try to manipulate or control them.
We definitely try to change them. And that’s the opposite of what anyone ever needs. All anyone ever needs is loving acceptance, non-judgment and compassion. When we try to change others we communicate our non-acceptance, our judgement, our selfishness.
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Carl Rogers
When we feel disappointed by others, we really are only ever disappointed in our failed expectations of them. Others don’t exist to be as we think they should be.
When we learn to see how our thinking about others creates our experience of them, we start to let go of our judgements and rigid expectations and start living in reality.
From that place we see others more as they show up. We no longer enter fantasy relationships that inevitably end badly. We believe people when they show us who they are. We choose more wisely – for us and them.
We save ourselves a lot of heartache and pain because we no longer fight reality but accept it instead. Our energy goes into living and loving what is. We become less preoccupied with others and become more present and therefore more loving.
When we experience this, we start to clearly see how fantasy relationships are never based in love. Because love is present, fantasy isn’t.
Fantasy relationships are about changing the other, changing ourselves, controlling each other, overpowering each other, submitting, being inauthentic. And that is no relationship at all.
“To love someone is to acknowledge the goodness of who they are. Through loving a person we awaken their awareness of their innate goodness. It is as though they cannot know how worthy they are until they look into the mirror of love and see themselves.” John Gray
So when the time comes to awaken to the reality that we have been holding on to a fantasy relationship, that we have torn our heart out to make something work that was never meant to work if we had been fully conscious to the reality of it, we get to make a different choice.
We get to look at this situation with more clarity and more honesty. We get to let go of a fantasy, something that never existed. We get real. We get to grieve that fantasy if we feel the need for it. We get to let go. But the biggest reward of all is that we get to choose love by letting go.
“We get to choose love by letting go.” Marlena Tillhon