How to Tell If It's True Love
An aging king asks his three daughters how much they love him in a folktale that has been repeated for ages in different forms (one of which is Shakespeare’s King Lear). The elder sisters give poetic filial worship speeches, while the youngest simply responds, “I love you like meat loves salt.” The monarch, offended by this quaint metaphor, exiles the youngest daughter and divides his realm between the two elder daughters, who soon throw him out on his royal heinie. He finds safety in the scullery maid’s house, where his third daughter works.
Recognizing her father, the daughter requests that his dinner be prepared without salt. The king takes a few insipid mouthfuls and then sobs. “All along, it was my youngest daughter who truly loved me!” he exclaims. The daughter exposes herself, and the story comes to a happy conclusion (except in King Lear, where pretty much everybody dies).
This story has endured for a long time in Europe because it is immensely instructive: it reminds listeners that choosing style above substance in situations of love is terrible. It also allows us to recognize when we’re making a mistake. Salt is unusual in that its flavor does not mask the flavor of the food it seasonings, but rather enhances it. Genuine Real love, real commitment, does the same thing.
The following five assertions are diametrically opposed to what most Americans consider to be loving commitment. However, these are “flesh loves salt” commitments that are both necessary and unorthodox. Your relationship is more likely to thrive if you and your partner can honestly speak them to each other.
1. I don’t mind living without you.
“I can’t live if I can’t live without you,” the singer cries. To remark that losing your lover’s affections would make life unlivable seems tragically deep—But have you ever been in a relationship when your love seemed to be the only thing keeping them alive? Someone who stayed around waiting for you to make things better, threatening to kill themselves if you ever split up? Or have you found yourself on the grabbing end of the spectrum, need your partner’s presence as much as you require oxygen? The feeling that drives this type of relationship is desperation, not love. It may appear romantic at first, but it inevitably fails to suit the demands of either partner over time.
The phrase “I can’t exist without you” refers to infancy, a time when we would have perished if our caregivers hadn’t stayed near by and anticipated our requirements. We’re frequently in the midst of a psychological retreat when we need entire care, feeling abandoned infants who require parents now, now, now! Don’t start dating if this is how you feel. Start seeing a therapist. Counseling can teach you how to communicate your needs to the one person who can meet them: yourself.
When we learn to care for ourselves as carefully and thoughtfully as a wonderful mother, the “I can’t live without you” mentality fades away. At that point, we’ll be able to build stable, long-lasting bonds that will endure a lifetime. “I can live without you” is a reassuring statement that prepares the ground for true love.
2. My feelings towards you will undoubtedly shift.
Most people appear to be intrinsically resistant to change. We want to secure whatever level of comfort or stability we’ve achieved so that there’s no risk of losing it. It’s easy to see why the promise “My love for you will never change” is so popular. Unfortunately, this is yet another promise that is more likely to destroy than strengthen a relationship.
The reason for this is that everything—and everyone—is in perpetual flux. We get older, learn new things, get sick, get better, gain weight, lose weight, have new hobbies, and abandon old ones. And when two people are in continual change, their relationship must also be flexible in order to exist. Many individuals are afraid that allowing their love to change would cause it to fade away. The inverse is true. Allowing love to adapt to new conditions makes it nearly unbreakable. Infatuation fades into pleasant company, then flames up again as we discover new things to admire in one other. The obligation may feel greater than desire in times of suffering and illness—
Until one day we discover that persevering through difficult times has strengthened our bonds more than before. Changing love, like rushing water, finds its way around barriers. It becomes delicate, stiff, and all too ready to fracture when frozen in place.
3. You aren’t everything that I require.
I support sexual monogamy, but I’m perplexed by couples who insist that their romantic spouse is the only person they need in their lives or that spending time together is the only activity that would provide them emotional joy.
Humans are built to live in communities, to experiment with new ideas, and to continually gain new abilities. Attempting to gather all of this information from a single individual is like to trying to receive a whole set of vitamins by simply eating ice cream. When a couple feels that “we must meet all of each other’s needs,” they grow fatigued from trying to be everything to each other, and neither can completely develop as individuals.
When my clients rekindle childhood loves or take up new interests, their significant others sometimes feel threatened.
I urge folks to bring their frightened wives to a session so that we may talk about their concerns. The wounded partners frequently sound like this when they come in: “Why do you have to devote three hours a week to tennis (or gardening or painting)? Are you implying that I’m insufficient to make you happy?” When confronted with such concerns, the healthiest response is “That’s correct, our relationship isn’t enough to make me entirely content—and if I pretended it was, I’d be stunting my soul and poisoning my love for you. Have you ever considered what you’d want to accomplish on your own?” A partnership is not strengthened by sacrificing all of our particular demands. Supporting each other’s personal development does.
4. I won’t constantly cling to you.
The boundary between a romantic remark like “I love you so much, I want to spend my life with you till death do us part” and the lunatic-fringe chant “I love you so much, I’ll murder you” is razor thin. People who say such things adore people in the same way that spiders like flies: they love to trap them, bind them, and drain food from them when they’re hungry. This isn’t the type of love you’re looking for.
It’s easy to identify the difference between true love and spider love: Possessiveness and exploitation include exerting control over the loved one, but real love is based on allowing the beloved to make their own decisions. The way you use the term make might also give you away. You’re playing the victimized, trussed-up fly when you say things like “He makes me feel X” or “He made me do Y.” Sentences like “I’ve got to make him understand that he’s wrong” or “I’ll hide what I truly believe since it would make him furious” are much more informative. You are the clever spider, withholding and manipulating your mate’s thoughts and behaviors, rather than the victim. Both strategies imply that someone is being held captive.
It’s easy to get out of this sticky situation: Telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is the best policy. Begin by accepting responsibility for your own actions, even the decision to obey the spider guy who may hold you captive. Then, without attempting to impose the reply you want, explain your true feelings, wants, and wants to your spouse. If your relationship can’t survive in the open light of honesty, it’s better to end it than to allow deception and control to continue.
5. You and I are not the same person.
Perhaps you are a chameleon who adapts to match the one you love, rather than a spider or a fly. Alternatively, you may date chameleons, picking people that fit your personality. You’re not in a healthy relationship in any case. In reality, you aren’t even in a relationship.
I used to be so tuned in to my loved ones’ desires and needs that I had no idea what my own were. This denying of self led to animosity, which poisoned numerous personal relationships. Then, having been burnt once and shy twice, I went to the other extreme for a short while. I had a lot of mediocre meals with people who hung on my every word and agreed with everything I said. I’m narcissistic, but not Narcissus; spending time with a human-looking-glass, however attractive, made me lonely.
If you believe in the “We are one” philosophy, it’s time you discovered how wonderful love for two may be. Follow your heart and move in a route where your spouse would not. Take the risk of examining your differences. To disagree is to agree. If you’re used to disappearing, this will show you that you can be adored just as you are. If you have a tendency to dominate, you’ll be surprised at how much more enjoyable it is to love a real person rather than a human reflection.
Buddha once remarked that we can recognize enlightenment because it always tastes of freedom, just as we can recognize the ocean because it always tastes of salt. True love and enlightenment have no fundamental differences. While many people regard commitment as a trap, in its healthy forms, it really frees both partners, brings out the taste of their genuine selves, and builds a love that is gratifying, long-lasting, and delectable.
Before you end a relationship, ask yourself these four questions.
Breaking up may feel like the only way out of this problem after yet another endless fight. However, there are a few things to think about before calling it a day.
1. Is it possible that I’m leaping to conclusions?
, a professional psychologist and author of, says she frequently encounters women who believe their husband is solely to blame for their misery. If you’re persuaded that your husband is the issue, and especially if you find yourself constantly and vehemently telling him all the reasons he’s ruining your life, Barrow advises that you write down your ideas. “Slow communication to a halt,” she advises. This does not imply that you should write a 22-page letter to your husband or lover. (Of course, we can’t stop you, but if you do, shred those suckers up and start over.)
The idea is that after you’ve taken a break from your usual conflict, you’ll be able to realize your role in the stress party that’s going on at home—stressed finances, work pressure, feelings of sadness, or tiredness from managing your children’s requirements. The letter accomplishes two goals: It not only tells him what’s bothering you, but it also tells you what’s bothering you.
2. What is the size of the chasm between my partner and me?
Prince Charming does not exist, as we all know. We persuade ourselves that our goals are reasonable. Even yet, we still ask ourselves questions about our relationships (Is there still passion? Is he appealing to me?
How can he remember his own child’s birthday while figuring out how to keep food warm in a subzero parking lot for his after-hockey practice potluck?) According to Barrow, are frequently too superficial to matter. What she means is that the fissures that form over time as a result of an unsatisfactory sexual relationship, a lack of communication, or personality differences aren’t always irreversible. Unlike apparent deal breakers like misaligned long-term objectives, your partner’s reluctance to enjoy your accomplishment, substance misuse, or unprotected adultery, many of these difficulties may be resolved if both sides are ready to work, accept the other’s right to disagree, and are a wee bit flexible.
3. Have I gone on a floating vacation…all by myself?
“You can’t change your partner,” Barrow explains, “but much like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the dance appears different if Ginger walks in a different way.” She’s implying that you should try something new. For example, you may get “a little divorced” by disappearing from your family/partner for a few days, as Rachel Zucker put it in The New York Times. (If this isn’t possible, go for a long stroll.)
Even if it’s only for a few minutes, taking a break will allow you to consider how you may make adjustments that will enhance your life. Reconnecting with friends, decreasing your responsibilities to your children’s school, or enrolling in a rock-climbing class at the gym might help you and your partner relax.
4. What will be the size of the ripple effect?
We know some married ladies who fantasize about a Life Without Him where the grass is always greener and full of mojitos.
Maybe you’ve fantasized of having entire weekends to yourself, when you can do anything you want, whenever you want. You may have even considered the drawbacks of how your daily routine may change: Paying the bills may become more difficult, and going to the gym for an hour after losing your built-in babysitter may be impossible. But have you given any thought to life beyond your spouse? For one thing, your spouse may want to be more involved in decisions that he previously delegated to you, such as playdates or extracurricular activities for your kids. Furthermore, dating is not the same as it was when you were 25. Do you see a sea of brilliant, funny people in their 30s (and beyond) at your parties?
Except that the males at these events are frequently married, have girlfriends (or boyfriends), or are going through painful divorces. Barrow recommends that you consider every detail of the daydream and compare it to what you already have: a person who knows how to hot-wire a Crock-Pot to a vehicle dashboard, among other things. Okay, that was a touch flippant, but the point is that it’s simple to convince ourselves that this other ideal existence is well-thought-out. And it’s all too simple to point out flaws in someone we’ve known for a long time. However, it isn’t fair to your partner (or to you).
It might take months to answer these questions and decide whether or not the relationship is worth saving, much alone months to preserve it. However, trying to restore a relationship after you’ve cut connections is nearly difficult, according to Barrow.
6 Tips for Staying Away from a Fight While on Vacation
How to get away from it all yet not wanting to leave your travel buddy behind.
Don’t go on a two-week trip with someone you’ve been dating for two weeks.
Are you planning a lengthy vacation? This is a fantastic concept. To save money, why not plan your trip ahead of time? It gets even better. Doing such things with someone you’ve just known for a few months, however? Sure, it’s romantic…and yes, it’s tempting fates. When you’re both out of your comfort zone and spending 24 hours a day together, you’ll soon discover how compatible (or not) you are, says Adam Seper, a who traveled across the world with his wife for a year.
Certain personality traits or behaviors that you or your lover may have been able to hide at home might come out when you’re stressed. Your journey should be proportionate to the duration of your partnership. So, if you’ve just been dating for a few months, start with a weekend getaway. Save the month-long voyage through Walla Walla until you’ve been dating for at least a year, and always obtain travel insurance, no matter how short or lengthy your relationship is. Although it may be tempting to put that extra cash toward your trip, it will save you time (and money) if anything unexpected happens, such as a split.
It’s best to avoid the blame game when it comes to zip lining.
Your accommodation is 10 miles from the beach and a highly unreliable shuttle bus journey away. Your name is on a zip line reservation, but your sneakers are 7,000 miles away in your closet. This is quite upsetting. He is solely to blame for this. This is really true. But it’s so simple to avoid if you plan your trip together. Make sure you’ve both signed off on the following four essential areas before making any nonrefundable decisions:
The mood is more important than geography.
You had hoped for a peaceful, romantic trip, but instead, find yourself in a family-friendly resort surrounded by screaming kids. This isn’t going to make either of you happy, and unhappy people are more likely to fight. Find a destination that gives alternatives for both of you in close proximity so you don’t spend time and energy finding out how to achieve what you want, advises Geraldine Rojales, director of guest services at the Kahala Hotel & Resort in Honolulu, Hawaii.
You’re familiar with the term “documents.”
You are assured that your passport is up to date, and you keep track of your seat assignment at all times. Unless, of course, you forget about it. Someone is bound to lose her cool if she shows up at the ticket desk without the required documentation. Alternatively, she may become insane (as happened to someone we know who spent her 40th birthday at the Boston Passport Agency with her husband instead of in sunny Barbados with two other couples).
Make sure that both of your passports are valid for at least two months. (Renewing a passport by mail takes four to six weeks, according to the US Passport Agency.) Also, check to see whether you’ll need a visa before you travel; Brazil, India, and Russia are three countries that need visas for US citizens. Although some countries allow you to get a visa on arrival, many others demand payment in cash (like the Dominican Republic). Make a point of stopping at an ATM before boarding the plane—or risk attempting to find one at the border.
Expenses: Money is one of the most contentious topics between couples in their own homes; the stress of traveling, not to mention shifting currency rates, new tipping laws, and other vacation shocks, may uncover fault lines in even the most in-tune couples. Before you travel, set a budget for yourself and determine where you’ll splurge (hotels or private excursions) and where you’ll save down (living on cheese and bread for a week). If you’re on a limited budget and want to get more done with less, Seper recommends visiting poor nations like India or Thailand, where it’s easier to keep prices down (he and his wife spent $25 a day on their round-the-world journey).
Weather: While reserving in the off-season can save you money, it may mean spending your whole trip cooped up with your companion in a hotel room…with only one English-language television station. Find a graph that displays the typical rainfall and temperature for the place and month you’re intending to vacation using numerous weather sources (not just what your hotel’s website says). Also, find out what the warmest and coldest times of day are so you can arrange your activities accordingly—and don’t go on that nature trek while it’s 105 degrees outdoors.
Take a break from your work and go on a mini-vacation.
Rojales, who has witnessed her fair share of Honolulu couple meltdowns, says an all-too-common blunder couples make is being excessively ambitious, which makes them exhausted and irritable. Many of the customers who come to her with their entire stay planned out wind up flopping in the pool after a busy day or two, losing out on the big attractions that drew them to Hawaii in the first place. She recommends whittling down your bucket list to three must-see, must-do activities. Take time apart, even if it’s just for an afternoon if you’re a museum fan and your spouse gets quickly worn out strolling long, silent halls. Seper planned a five-day tour across the world.
If you’re on vacation with your family and significant other, make a plan ahead of time to have some alone time (like renting a kayak for two or getting a couples massage) that won’t hurt anyone’s emotions. (It’s also never a bad idea to come up with a code word or secret phrase that means “Get me out of here!” before leaving.)
Keep an eye on your weight
Following your lover up the subway steps with a small backpack while lugging a 75-pound baggage can strain both your back and your relationship. Decide on the amount of bag you’ll need for each of you, and make sure they’re similar in size and weight. Seper advises against buying baggage online without first trying it on. Take a rolling luggage for a drive around the store if you need anything with wheels to check how it handles turns and whether you can lift it effortlessly. Many businesses provide weights that may be placed in a backpack to test how they feel on your body. Investing in a pocket scale can also help you avoid unpleasant surprises at the airport when it comes to overweight luggage.
On the first night, don’t plan a candlelit dinner.
“The first day of vacation is often the most difficult,” Rojales explains. “Save a romantic evening for the third night, once you’ve had a chance to relax and reorient yourself.” On day two, she recommends joining up for a physical activity (such as tennis or a surf class) to relieve any residual job stress. Plus, no iPhones or BlackBerrys are allowed on the court or in the water. Rojales has seen guests conceal their spouses’ phone chargers in order to compel them to disconnect, but if one of you needs to remain in contact with the workplace, set out time to check email and respond to critical calls so it doesn’t feel like you or your partner’s boss is bugging you.
Separate and Conquer
According to Seper, playing to your strengths might help you both have a better experience. “I used to try to take the reins,” he says, “but my wife is an attorney and bargains for a living—better she’s at it.” He’s the planner and does the digging for local hot spots and interesting restaurants, but he takes a backseat when it comes to bartering with the locals for transportation and souvenirs: “I used to try to take the reins,” he says, “but my wife is an attorney and bargains for a living—she And Seper’s technique not only saves you time and worry on vacation, but it also works when you go home and unpack your belongings.