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LOVE
 
Communication Part I
The Art of Loving welcomes the contribution of Don Miguel Ruiz
 
Communication Part II
Four Agreements author, Don Miguel Ruiz
 
Never Give Up!
By Ladyfire Editor Debora Myers
 
The Greatest Gift We Can Give To Our Children
By Leslie Karen Lobell, M.A.
 
My Foundation for Love
by Paul Mauchline
 
The Circle of Love
by Paul Mauchline
 
Educating Yourself About The Art of Loving
by Paul Mauchline
 
The Art of Touching
by Paul Mauchline
 
Maintaining Your Individuality in Love
by Paul Mauchline
 
Priorities
by Paul Mauchline
 
If I Could Reach
by Paul Mauchline
 
Affirming Love
by Debora Myers
 
Love = Life Fear = No Life
by Paul Mauchline
 
Self-Love: Is It Selfish?
By Leslie Karen Lobell, M.A.
 
Learning To Love Yourself
by Leslie Karen Lobell, M.A.

 
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Love
 
Maintaining Your Individuality In Love
 
by Paul Mauchline
What is the distinction between mature love and a common misconception of what love is: the symbiotic relationship? Mature love is stable, a union of two people who respect themselves and each other. Symbiotic love is needy and dependent. Symbiotic relationships demand that one person has power over another. This results in the loss of the integrity of both partners. Mature love means that both individuals in the partnership have room to be themselves, even while being together. In the symbiotic relationship, one partner is driven by need and fear that the other partner will leave. In mature love, each partner is free and whole, choosing, rather than being driven, to give love to the other partner.
 
Mature love requires giving your love with no strings attached, with no expectations. Many of us have learned from society that to give means "to give up" or "to give away" -- in essence, creating a deficit in ourselves. Further, we learn to give only as much as we expect to receive in return, lest we end up feeling cheated by giving more. Giving, as it exists in mature love, is quite different from these types of messages we have received. Rather than being seen as a sacrifice or an investment in future returns, giving in mature love comes from a desire to give and an ability to do so. In the words of Erich Fromm, author of The Art of Loving published in 1956, "Giving is the highest expression of potency... more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness."
 
In a symbiotic relationship, one partner gives up a significant part of himself or herself in order to maintain a peaceful relationship. This individual, ruled by a fear of being alone, will sacrifice parts of his or her identity for the sake of keeping the relationship intact. Short-term conflict is avoided, and the status quo is maintained. In the long run, though, there is a price to be paid: the loss of one's individuality. If one partner idolizes the other and is willing to sacrifice himself more completely, then the other partner has more power and control over the relationship. When the balance of power is unequal, the relationship becomes unsatisfying for both partners; almost inevitably, it ends. There are a lot of people willing to give up an awful lot to avoid being alone. They are willing to give up who they are, what they are, and what they want and need. They are willing to sacrifice their individuality for the love of another.
 
Any person who is willing to make such a sacrifice lacks self-love, and thus is incapable of maintaining a mature, loving relationship. Self-love is where love for others has to start. Giving up your individuality will eventually come back to haunt you; you will end up feeling anger, resentment, and/or regret. The outcome of one partner resenting the other is the deterioration of the relationship. People need relationships, but they also need to be fulfilled within themselves. When you give up your dreams for the sake of your partner's, you do so at the cost of your own individuality and personal growth.
 
When you enter into a relationship, it does not mean that your personal life stops. Your life does not totally change because you are with another person. You have to maintain your own individuality. You have to have your own personal goals. You need to maintain the friendships, hobbies and interests that you had before you met your partner. If you give these up for the sake of your relationship, you are giving up your life. When your partner first met you, they were attracted to you as an individual. It's important that you keep your individuality-- that's what attracted your partner in the first place. Maintaining your individuality will enable you and your partner to build a mature loving relationship.
 
Many relationships fail today because one partner has given up too much of themselves for the other. You have to love yourself first, before you can love another. If you enter a relationship and give up all the things that define you as an individual, you are not giving yourself the love that you need. Sooner or later, if you lose your identity, if you stop giving to yourself, you will be unable to give to your relationship.
 
It's important not to confuse identity and individuality with flexibility in your relationship. Individuality is about the things that make you who you are. Flexibility is about compromise. Compromise will always be necessary in any relationship that you have. In order to compromise, you have to be committed to honest communication of your feelings and needs at all times. In building a life together, problems will arise.
 
Problem solving through honest communication is the key to building a mature, loving relationship. Neither you nor your partner should give up anything that makes you the unique person that you are. It's up to you and your partner to find the balance that you both need to succeed in a rising loving relationship.
 
Copyright 2000-2001. All rights reserved. Paul Mauchline
 
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