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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

I Love You, But I Am Leaving You

“I Love You, But I Am Leaving You”

When love is not all you need.

“I’m sorry, I love you, but I have to leave you. You were the right choice, but not my ‘happy’ choice.” —Hallie Mantegna
What?! Did I hear you correctly? If you love me, why are you leaving me? I am definitely missing a piece of this puzzle. But, as it turns out, you may not be missing anything.
Sometimes, love and life clash. Usually, this conflict can be traced to one of two issues: (1) romantic reasons that have to do with the nature of one’s love, and (2) reasons concerning the flourishing life of the partners.
1. "I love you, but not strongly enough."
“There is a difference between someone who wants you and someone who would do anything to keep you. Actions speak louder than wishes.” Unknown
Romantic love is not an all-or-nothing attitude—it comes in different degrees. Some degrees are good enough for having an affair for a few weeks or months, but not sufficient for sustaining long-term love (Ben-Ze’ev & Krebs, 2018).
Examples of common reasons in this group are:
“I found a new lover”;
“In the past, I have loved someone more strongly than I love you”;
“I am happy with you in the short term (great romantic intensity), but I do not see prospects for the long term” (not much romantic profundity);
“We are great sexual partners, but not good friends”;
“We are profound friends, but not great sexual partners”;
“There are major flaws in your behavior preventing me from trusting you and feeling calm with you”;
“I cannot give you the love you deserve”; or more bluntly, “My feelings toward you are not strong enough.”
The reasons in this group are mainly comparative—indicating a lower level of love or romantic suitability. The above differences are often associated with the (ambiguous) statement, “I love you, but I am not in love with you,” which is another claim that has ended many marriages and other committed relationships.  Here, there is some degree of love, but that degree is not sufficient—at least not when compared to other available options.
2. "I love you but cannot live with you."
“Look, I hate good-byes, too. But sometimes, we need them just to survive.” Rachel Caine, Fall of Night
“If I should stay, I would only be in your way, So I’ll go, but I will always love you.” Dolly Parton (and later, Whitney Houston and others)
Long-term romantic relationships should take into account non-romantic factors concerning the living together of the two partners. Loving someone is not always sufficient for deciding to live with someone. Living together and establishing a family together certainly require love—but much more than that. They require the ability to help each other flourish.
Examples of common reasons in this group are:
“You cannot help me to flourish as you do not bring out the best in me”;
“I cannot help you to flourish—on the contrary, being with me blocks your flourishing”;
“We are not suitable for building a long-term, thriving life together”;
“You are not a good father, husband, or provider (though you may be a great lover)”.
In this group of reasons, the degree of love is sufficient for supporting enduring love, but not enduring living together. People sometimes prefer thriving in life over love—it can come down to their own thriving or that of their partner.
An illustration of the first kind is the case of a married woman who said that she loved her first husband very much, but something was missing in their relationship that made her decide to divorce him: “There was nothing wrong with him,’ she said, “but nevertheless I felt that self-fulfillment would not be part of my life. He would not block it, but he will not bring out the best in me. With my second husband, I have many fights, but I do feel his profound passion and ability to bring out the best in me.” This woman chose losing her first husband over losing herself.
An example of preferring the partner’s thriving over love is the case of a partner who, out of profound love, ends a relationship saying that staying together would make his or her beloved miserable in the long term. This is the theme of the popular song “I will always love you,” which many consider the greatest love song of all time. In taking into account this reality, we sometimes hear of a partner, out of profound love, ending a relationship out of concern that staying together would make his or her beloved miserable in the long term. In this case, ending the relationship expresses a genuine interest in the other’s profound well-being.
Is Love All We Need?
“All you need is love.” The Beatles
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Charles Schulz
Romantic love has a very positive impact upon one’s life—this is expressed in many ways, such as happiness, flourishing and health. For some people, it is the engine that drives their lives forward. However, people need more than love to flourish. For love to thrive and endure, we need a good-enough living framework. When romantic love thrives, it can contribute to a more general feeling of thriving. Sometimes, however, love and life conflict.
And so, we can find ourselves asking: Which takes precedence: love or life? This can be a hard call. At one extreme, one might sacrifice life for love (let’s remember Romeo and Juliet). At the other, one might sacrifice love for life (remaining in a loveless, but otherwise comfortable, marriage, for example). Of course, most of us make romantic decisions that fall somewhere between these harrowing poles. It is the strength of love, the nature of the life-demands, and the degree of conflict between them, which dictate exactly where we wind up on that continuum.
When intense desire is perceived as the core of romantic love, the conflict between romantic love and life ramps up in volume. Such desire is usually brief and decreases with time. Life, by contrast, tends to last. A lover cannot be blind to life, and love does not always win. In any case, love cannot replace life. When love and life go head-to-head, love almost always loses, especially when it is based on intense desire. In the long run, it is when lovers nurture the connection between themselves and do things which enable each other to flourish that love is maintained and enhanced. That is how ties to the living framework are tightened.
“Goodbye taught me that people don’t always stay and the things that belonged to you today can belong to someone else tomorrow.” Rania Naim, Goodbye doesn’t scare me anymore
The claim that “all you need is love” indicates, as Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager, once said: “a clear message saying that love is everything.” Although romantic love is extremely important for our happiness and flourishing, love is neither a necessary, nor a sufficient, condition for happy and thriving life. As it turns out, love is not everything in life, though it is often a central part of it.
If indeed, love is not all we need, then it is certainly reasonable for some people to leave the one they love.
Orginial article found:
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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

You Might Find Bits of Wisdom From Unexpected Places

You Might Find Bits of Wisdom From Unexpected Places

Don’t snooze during the speech or you’ll miss an ah-ha moment.

Source: lovleah/bigstock
At this time of year we’re likely to hear some very interesting and often times wise reflections from opinion leaders in our society as they address assemblies of graduating students. Yes, a few of them drone on, but it’s worth paying attention to some of these speakers. For example, in his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, Steve Jobs shared some of his insights on succeeding in life with a message that can benefit us all, at any age. He reminded the graduates, and in turn us, that our time here is limited and we should not waste it living someone else’s life, or version of life. That we should not allow another’s noise [opinions] drown out our own inner voice, our ideas, dreams and aspirations. That we should have the courage to follow our own heart and intuition. He advised us that we have to trust in something, and that believing the “dots will connect” later on down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart. He’s right on target!  These are important notions to share with someone who is at a transition in life, as the graduates are, and very good reminders for the rest of us. It’s as true for us at the beginning of our lives as it is during a mid-lifecourse change.
What happens if you don’t do this, if you don’t follow your own drummer and instead are corralled to chart a course mandated by another? Well, your ideas and dreams fade, as does your self-esteem and confidence. You then become vulnerable to depression, disappointment and dissatisfaction with life, and develop a negative view of the world and yourself. 
Turns out, it’s not always easy to follow your own inner voice and resist the control of others. Oftentimes, family and social pressures are so strong that we get lost in them. It can be quite difficult to stay true to yourself, who you are, your thoughts, values, skills, preferences—the things you need to achieve satisfaction and fulfillment in life. This cannot be done by following someone else’s dream of who or what you should be. 
Sometimes we know ourselves well enough and are confident enough to stand up and take charge of our own lives. Some of us are sturdy enough to resist the pressures of controlling parents, spouses or peers and be strong in our convictions. This takes courage. Some of us don’t know ourselves that well yet. Getting there is a process, it happens as we grow and mature, and it takes time. We may be at different points along that path as compared to our friends and as such should not make comparisons. Furthermore, well-meaning family members should allow us the space and freedom to find our path and grow as a person, remembering that we all stumble and make errors along the way. 
When you’re depressed, it’s easy to forget these things. It’s easy to forget your baseline sense of who you are as a person, what you want, and where you are going. All you can recall are negative thoughts and a negative sense of yourself. The urge to let this happen is quite powerful when depressed. I found a simple exercise to help with this, called "Defining Your Baseline," which I describe in chapter 3 of my book Managing Your Depression: What you can do to feel better (Hopkins, 2013). It helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses, personal preferences, beliefs, values, competencies, sense of purpose, what nourishes and energizes you. It’s a way to help you connect to your inner sense of yourself, to your baseline person. This is important to draw on as an aid in your recovery. Give it a try—you might be surprised! 
Stay well!
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