This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
By Merl Appel When I listen to the many ballads about love it concerns me, since most sound, to me, like a neurotic state rather than love. Most relationships tend to fail; it is because they are dysfunctional. True love is something much different than what we believe. According to Dr. Scott Peck, a learned scholar, a spiritual person, psychiatrist and author of that popular book, “The Path Less Traveled.” “I define love thus: The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth..” says Dr. Scott Peck. The use of the word "will" is Peck’s attempted to show the distinction between desire and action. Desire is not necessarily translated into action, but will is a desire of sufficient intensity, that it translates into action. Therefore, the desire to love is not itself love. Love is as love does. Love is an act of will, which is, both an intention and an action. Will, implies, choice. We do not have to love; we choose to love. Love should not be to satisfy sexual desire or to posses another, but to promote spiritual growth Love is a strangely a circular process, for in loving, we attempt to extend our self by including the other. The process of extending one's self is an evolutionary process; for successfully extending one's limits, one has then grown into a larger state of being. Thus the act of loving is an act of self-evolution, even when the purpose of the act is someone else's growth. It is through action of reaching toward evolution that we evolve. This definition of love includes self-love, with love for others. Unless we love ourselves, we are incapable of loving another. Self love and love of others go hand in hand for they ultimately are indistinguishable. Consequently, the act of extending one's limits implies effort. Love is not effortless; on the contrary, love is effortful.
The Myth of Romantic Love
This illusion of love is implied in our culture by the commonly held myth of romantic love, which has its origins in our favorite childhood fairy tales, wherein the prince and princes, once united, live happily forever after. The myth of romantic love is a dreadful lie. Falling in love is, in fact, very, very close to real love. Indeed, the misconception that falling in love is a type of love is so potent precisely because it contains a grain of truth. The experience of real love also has to do with ego boundaries, since it involves an extension of one's ego limits. When we extend our limits through love by reaching out to our object of love, whose growth, we wish to nurture, we merge with it. Psychiatrists calls this process of attraction, investment, and commitment “cathexis” and say that we "cathect" the beloved object. However, when we cathect an object outside ourselves, we also psychologically incorporate a representation of that object into ourselves.
In this way, the more and longer we extend ourselves, the more we love, the more blurred becomes the distinction between the self and the world. We become blurred and thinned, we begin more and more to experience the same sort of feeling of ecstasy that we have when our ego boundaries partially collapse and we "fall in love.” Only, instead of having merged temporarily and unrealistically with a single beloved object, we have merged realistically and more permanently with much of the world. We confuse the act of making love or having sexual intercourse as an act of love, making love is not an act of love. Nonetheless, the experience of sexual intercourse, and particularly of orgasm (even masturbation), is an experience also associated with a greater or lesser degree of collapse of ego boundaries and attendant ecstasy. Ego boundaries must be hardened before they can be softened. An identity must be established before it can be transcended. One must find one's self before one can lose it. The temporary release from ego boundaries associated with falling in love, sexual intercourse, or the use of certain psychoactive drugs may provide us with a glimpse of Nirvana, but not with Nirvana itself. Nirvana or lasting enlightenment or true spiritual growth can be achieved only through the persistent exercise of real love.
The second most common misconception about love is the idea that dependency is love. Love is the free exercise of choice. Two people love each other only when they are capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other. I define dependency as the inability to experience wholeness or to function adequately without the certainty that one is being actively cared for by another. Dependency in physical healthy adults is pathological. Passive dependent personality disorders are perhaps the most common of all psychiatric disorders. People with this disorder, passive dependent people, are so busy seeking to be loved that they that they have no energy left to love. They are like starving people, scrounging wherever they can for food. Since they have no food of their own to give to others, within them, they have an inner emptiness, a bottomless pit crying out to be filled but, which can never be completely filled. They never feel "full-filled" or have a sense of completeness. They always feel "a part of me is missing.” They tolerate loneliness very poorly. Because of their lack of wholeness, they have no real sense of identity, and they define themselves solely be their relationships. In the diagnosis, the word "passive" is used in conjunction with the word "dependent" because these individuals concerns themselves with what others can do for them to the exclusion of what they themselves can do.
If these passive dependent people goal is to be loved, they will fail to achieve it. The only way to be assured of being loved is to be a person worthy of love, and you cannot be a person worthy of love when your primary goal in life is to passively be loved. For passive dependent people the loss of the other is such a frightening prospect that they cannot face preparing for it or tolerating a process that would diminish the dependency or increase the freedom of the other. Consequently, it is one of the behavioral hallmarks of passive dependent people in marriage that their role differentiation is ridged, and they seek to increase rather than diminish mutual dependency so as to make marriage more rather than less of a trap. A good marriage can exist only between two strong and independent people.