Re-Writing the Romance Novel (Part 1)

“[…] most relationships between lovers are just like a relationship between a drug addict and the one who provides the drugs […] You can see the way they manipulate each other, their actions and reactions, and they are just like the provider and the drug addict.”- Don Miguel Ruiz

Our close friends often ask us if we use the “L” word. After all, society would expect a couple going on two years to “love” each other. Due to this expectation, people are genuinely confused and sometimes even bothered when our answer is “N-O”. It’s actually pretty entertaining to have this occur every time L-O-V-E is brought up. Once they hear our answer, they either think that that we’re out of touch with our feelings (denial of our love for each other) or that we are just avoiding the word because others use it… Neither is true.

To clarify, we’re going to compare our view of “Mainstream Love” and “Relationship Zen’s Love”.

Mainstream Love

(think of the couples in Hollywood’s romantic comedies)

He’s Just Not That Into You Trailer

Yes, the clip contains a lot of obvious relationship stereotypes, but movies and books like this really do affect the way we approach relationships. We’re either looking for some fairy tale or we become disenchanted with love. Before you know it, our relationship becomes characterized by expectations, judgement, dependency, competition, control, addiction, eroticism (maybe not), novelty, promises, rings, dinners, fancy gifts, materialism, and unhappiness.

We realize that not everyone experiences these things – or is aware that they are experiencing them – but try to think curiously about the information rather than resisting it. We also had a hard time digesting this at first, but once we opened our hearts, our lives changed.

We refer to the relationship we just described as the drug dealer and addict relationship, as coined by Don Miguel Ruiz in The Mastery of Love. We can’t do this important concept justice, so to fully grasp mainstream love, please read this story from his book. Do make the time to read it at this moment – it’s life-changing if you read it with an open & attentive mind.

As the blogger mentioned, the moral of that story is:

“If you take your happiness and put it in someone else’s hands, sooner or later, that person is going to break it because they can only be responsible for their own happiness.” Likewise, you will do the same to them.

On the other hand, if you take full responsibility for your own happiness, then your relationship will benefit. That’s the basis of Relationship Zen’s Love.

Relationship Zen’s Love:

Well, much like in the story, the kind of love we are working towards is different. That’s why we don’t say “I love you”. The term doesn’t capture what we’re experiencing and what we’re trying to achieve.

To clarify, the state of love that we’re trying to achieve is one where I don’t feel the need to judge her; I don’t have the need for him to take care of me; I don’t need to blame her for my difficulties, or to take my emotional baggage/drama to him. We have the best time together; we enjoy each other. I respect the way she thinks, the way he feels. She doesn’t embarrass me; he doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t feel jealous when they’re with other people; I don’t feel envy when they’re successful (adapted from Don Miguel Ruiz). That is what we’re trying to achieve. Guess what it takes to achieve this? Complete and utter self-mastery and self-confidence. Self-love, if you will. Essentially, that’s what the aforementioned book will help you to develop.

Hence our saying: We’re not two halves of a whole, we’re two wholes sharing a path.
The idea behind the fact that we don’t say “I love you” is that we don’t love each other in the drug addict way – we try to love in a different way that is focused on the present and on self-mastery and mutual engagement, rather than mutual dependency. 

It’s funny because this understanding of love makes it REALLY hard to find suitable Valentine’s Day cards for each other, and Mother and Father’s Day cards for our parents. The majority seem to adhere to the drug addict love that is talked about in the story. They tell you what you may want to hear only because it makes you feel secure in your relationship… don’t settle for security. Is your relationship a bad habit?

Practical Tips That We Use to Avoid The Negative Effects of Mainstream Love

  • Make your own cards and write your genuine and authentic feelings about your “loved” one.

  • Instead of saying “I love you”, ask “What am I really feeling about them right now?” or “What am I appreciating about them right now?”. Make sure that you are genuine and accurate with what you are saying by explaining exactly how you feel at a specific moment. “I love you” seems too generic for us.

  • Be responsible for your own happiness. Understand that you can’t control events or others, but you can control your reaction to them. It’s not your fault that you get emotional, but it isn’t anyone else’s either (even if they hurt you). It’s your responsibility to be happy regardless of others or your environment.

  • Read the story and study (not read, study) The Mastery of Love. Re-study it throughout your life.

  • Build self-efficacy, believe in your independence, and be willing to challenge your relationship (we will write many more posts about these tips).

  • The most important tip for last: We must confess, we slipped into mainstream behaviour last week for just a few hours. We were letting expectations get in the way and we were judging each other according to those expectations. Want to know what saved us? We paused the argument, took time to be mindful (breathing and relaxing), re-framed our discussion, and continued to reflect. Check yo’self befo’ you wreck yo’self, foo! Do your best.
    Note: it takes a lot of control over your ego to do that! It’s hard… but worth it!

As you can see, living Relationship Zen is a conscious decision and continuous process. For realz it’s difficult, but it has been personally rewarding for both of us.

That said, we’re not opposed to how others may feel about the term “I love you”. This is just our prerogative. Remember, you are responsible for your own happiness.

This is has been a difficult topic to articulate, so let’s continue the discussion on facebook or in the comment section below.

“Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations. Don’t over-analyse your relationships. Stop playing games. A growing relationship can only be nurtured by genuineness.”-Leo F. Buscaglia