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Scared Separate

by David Truman

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Chapter 6 - How to Create Love That's Worth Living For

Sympathy for the inexperienced

Love helpers aren't helping

So, what are love's requirements?

Love on a budget

The biggest cause of relationship failure: under-investment

Is love worth it?

The whole shebang

Relationship is an art, and like any other art, to succeed in it takes learning, practice, and work. Many people think that love and relationship are supposed to be easy -- but there's plenty of evidence to show it isn't so. You only have to look at the millions of failed relationships and alliances to see that humanity has much to learn about love.

Healthy relationships have requirements. You can't have one just because you want one. If you jump into a relationship without bothering to find out what the requirements are, and trying to fulfill them, you'll end up in a heap of hurt.

It's like this: It could be wonderful to climb on a cross-country train, and cruise from San Francisco to New York, seeing all the sights along the way -- but only if you have the tickets. At every stop, the conductor is going to come around to collect your next ticket. If you have it, you can stay on for the next leg of the journey. But if you don't -- boom! -- he'll kick you off. You'll end up smack in the middle of the desert, and have to hoof it or hitchhike back to your house. A dusty, disappointing trip indeed! Or, part of a trip, I should say.

Love is like that. You can't just start a relationship, and have it be grand automatically. You have to earn your wings every day.

Sympathy for the inexperienced

In this anti-social world, many people are ill-prepared to create a workable relationship. When you try to introduce people to a life lived with others, you often find that they're missing essential steppingstones they need. One missing steppingstone is trust. Another is social functionality.

After years of solitude and independent living, it is difficult to make the social and personal adjustments that the relational context requires -- to accommodate the needs of others; to be flexible about how things should be; to share decisions; to not think only of oneself; etc.

Sadly, this is the common experience of many young people nowadays. They've grown up virtually alone, in broken families or households where both parents work; and they've been steeped since birth in the egoic values of autonomy and self-importance. They reach adulthood totally unprepared to meet the requirements of mutual love.

And this is true, even, of many people who have been in marriages, communities, or long-term relationships -- but perhaps the way they and their partner approached it was so unworkable that they didn't walk away with much positive learning. "Don't rehearse mistakes," my music teacher used to say. Practicing mistakes only harms your progress. You develop bad habits, wrong ideas, unhelpful associations, and discouraging expectations.

Love helpers aren't helping

To learn how to make a relationship really work, you don't just need practice, you need to practice right. And that takes wisdom.

Sadly, the "wisdom" about love that's generally available in today's world is truly unhelpful and unwise. Theories abound about how to have a successful relationship, but most of them don't work. There are millions of books, seminars, and therapists -- all supposedly delivering the secrets to fulfillment in love. Yet fulfillment in love is becoming increasingly rare!

It's very telling that when people come and visit us, they are amazed how well we get along -- in fact, they're amazed that anybody gets along. And many of these amazed people are the same ones who have been to the seminars, done the therapies, and read the books.

What does it mean? Self-help isn't helping. The proof is in the pudding, folks. If the saying "by their fruits ye shall know them" is true, then clearly, all the popular methods are bunk.

Don't look to society or society's ordinary agents for help with love. Society is a pawn of the ego, and everything it does misses the mark. Popular teachings about how to make love work usually appeal to the selfish part of us -- the part that is incapable of relationship. Rarely do they recommend the love, the sacrifice, the work, and the true devotion it would actually take to make another human being happy, and to be truly expressed as who you are.

Instead of following the lemmings off the cliff, a person of integrity would take the road less traveled. They would look honestly at what's making human relationship seem so alien, difficult, and unlikely of success; and having done that, they would correct in themselves each fault and error of thinking that they see is causing love to fail.

To make love work, you have to go against the grain of your learned tendencies, and of culture, and create a way of living in which love can grow.

So, what are love's requirements?

There is plenty to learn about how to make a relationship work. The subject is deep and wide, and it will grow even deeper and wider as your relationships grow.

Elsewhere on this website, I've written extensively about the details and intricacies of how to make love work. Right here, I'll give you the cornerstones -- the fundaments upon which a healthy relationship is built. Once you have these in place (or, I should say, once you have your commitment to these in place), all the rest can be built on top. These are the basic structure of any healthy human association.


The love you take is equal to the love you make.

An essential prerequisite for success in love is the willingness to invest in each other, and in the relationship; to give of your heart, your life, your time. There is no great thing you can succeed in without giving your heart and soul to it -- and relationships are no exception.

To their detriment, many people are afraid to invest much in others, preferring to hold back "to be on the safe side." But the trouble with that is, the only sure thing on the "safe side" is death and loneliness; and mediocre, disappointing relationships.

Love thrives on generosity of spirit. Thriftiness, or the fearful mentality that leads to chronic withholding, prevents love from flourishing.

Love on a budget

A chef I know once told me, "Don't eat at restaurants."

"Why?" I asked.

He replied, "Well, they have to prepare food on a budget."

"So what?"

"These days, a budget almost ensures that the ingredients will be of the lowest possible quality. So the food you're eating is no good."

The same thing happens when we approach relationship on a budget. When we limit our giving, our love, and our care, because we want to protect ourselves, the quality of the love goes way down. And the disappointing relationship that results is worth just what you paid for it . . . .

Real, heart-satisfying love is for those who are willing to be generous, to freely love, to give, to make sacrifices. Only if you went to a restaurant where they charged $20-$30 a meal could you expect to find an uncompromising approach to the quality of the food served. And only if a person's budget for love is high, perhaps unlimited, can they create a really worthwhile, fulfilling relationship.

The biggest cause of relationship failure: under-investment

People get confused about this. They think that what destroys love is dramatic misbehaviors, egregious personal offenses, abuse, etc. But actually, most of the time, what kills love is under-investment. Lack of investment in each other and in the relationship. Too many people know the pain of being in a relationship where they are ignored, unseen, and underappreciated. This can be true in communities and friendships, as well as in coupled relationships.

Here's a common story: A woman handed her husband his divorce papers. Shocked and amazed, he responded, "I don't get it. What happened? I didn't do anything wrong." She answered: "No you didn't. In fact, you didn't do much of anything. That was the problem." Usually, it is the ignoring, the lack of love, life, desire, and participation, that causes relationships to flounder.

A house that is not maintained will eventually become unlivable -- dirty, moldy, and broken down. The same thing happens with relationships that aren't maintained, only much faster, because the human heart is more sensitive than the physical plane.

Humans have tried to bring their relationships to what they call "safe conditions" -- with minimal investment. And as a result, too many relationships are dead or dying, and undesirable. When it comes to relationships that are underfed, you can leave them a lot better than you can take them, because a mediocre relationship is truly unbearable. It's an unbearable disappointment to the heart, which knows what relationship could and should be.

Is love worth it?

Because it's so rare for anyone do what it takes to make a relationship good, many people have gotten the impression that all relationships are inherently disappointing, and "not worth the trouble." They don't see the beauty that relationships can really be -- the commitment, the loyalty, the passion, the mutual love and care. Most of what they see in relationships is pain and disappointment. Because of that, they aren't eager to invest much in other people.

When I say to people, "To have a really good relationship, you'd have to give your heart, and make real sacrifices," many people feel, "Why would I do that? No love is worth it." They don't want to invest that much in something so shaky, so mediocre, so unlikely of success. What they don't realize is, it was the lack of investment that killed love in the first place.

Love, real love, is priceless. Eternal. Unbreakable. It is the source of true joy and fulfillment. It brings meaning to life. It calls us out of the tinyness of a self-centric existence, to expand into a life that takes others -- or at least, someone -- into account. Love is the pearl of great price, and it's worth every penny -- and more!


What you see is what you get.

They say that love is blind, but they are wrong. Real love is very deeply seeing. Real love recognizes the beloved for who they are, and appreciates them. Selfishness and unlove are blind.

Think about the woman who had a bad husband -- a husband who did not see her, did not know her, did not appreciate her for who she was. Then, one day, another man found her and recognized her, and suddenly she came alive! The new man brought out the very best in her. So, she left her husband, and married the new man. "He saw me." She says, "My ex-husband did not. He did not love me enough to know me."

Likewise, when a woman really sees a man, she brings out who he is. He feels seen and appreciated and known, because he is.

What you see is what you get. If you have enough love to see someone for who they are, your recognition will awaken them, will draw them out, and you will have them. You know how it goes: If no one sees you, how can you be you?

In ordinary relationships, people often betray one another by not seeing or feeling each other's hearts. The soul cannot thrive in that environment. It takes the light of love and recognition for a person to open up, like a beautiful flower opening up its heart to the sun.


"Darling, you can count on me
'till the sun dries up the sea"

-- the Everly Brothers

Every human enterprise requires commitment. There are always challenges. There are always difficulties. The people who succeed at anything are the ones who persevere.

In any relationship, there are surely going to be some mistakes, some bumps in the road. That's inevitable. So you have to have perseverance, dedication, and forbearance to make it work.

They don't teach you in school how to succeed in intimacy. And another thing they should teach you, but don't, is how to handle failure and disappointment in intimacy.

The usual response, when things go wrong in relationship, is to withdraw, to pull in one's horns, to want to run away. That seems like the easy way to go. But things can only go downhill from there. Obviously, it's not easy when you've thrown your love away.

At such times, people will often justify giving up by saying, "I chose the wrong person. I need to find someone better for me." But the truth is, no matter who you marry, what community you join, or who your friends are, you will face challenges in relationships, and you will have to do what it takes to make love work. That's part of what it means to be human.

An important part of commitment and perseverance is the willingness to forgive your loved ones for their shortcomings. Love is not love if it can't stand in the face of the inevitable mistakes and letdowns.

Of course, that doesn't mean you ought to put up with chronically unloving behavior -- you have a right to expect care from your loved ones. And if they don't care enough to do their part in the relationship, you have a right, perhaps even a duty, to leave them. But where there is good reason to stay, it's a lover's duty to deal with, be patient with, and work to heal the imperfections and problems in the relationship -- rather than run away. Without that, there is no love.

A common attitude is: "Well, if I knew everything would work out, then I'd sign up." But the problem with that is, that's not commitment, and it's not love. That's being a fair weather friend.

It takes courage to love; you have to be willing to put yourself out there even though you don't know what will happen. If you don't have the courage to face emotional difficulties, you can't make a commitment -- or at least, you can't keep a commitment.

A relationship shouldn't have to be perfect for you to be involved. If that is the case, you can't have relationship. Relationships conditioned on no trouble are meaningless commitments.

Real love is when you care enough to try to work things out. Real love inspires you to overcome your bad habits, and to help your loved ones overcome theirs. Negative patterns don't need to prevent love. Instead, they can strengthen love -- by providing you with the heart-exercise it takes to overcome them.


All of love's happy endings begin with the ending of egoism.

To make love last, and to make it beautiful, you have to be willing to get past the ego; because the ego ruins relationship.

Egoism is a poisonous weed that chokes out the beauty in life. The root is ego itself; its shoots are various egoic attitudes: fear, suspicion, self-protectiveness, skepticism, doubt, anger, avoidance, intolerance, denial, unlove -- you name it! It's all of ego. And ego's fruits are the painful behaviors and conflicts we experience in relationship: abuse, fighting, running away, withholding, withdrawal, etc. Wherever ego is allowed to grow unchecked, these terrible fruits are its inevitable harvest.

To walk the road of love, you have to put ego behind you -- and rebuff its attempts to lure you off track. It will surely try. You have to transcend the ego doubts, fears, and reactions that come up within you. You also have to ignore ego-minded warnings from family, friends, and advisors. Like, "Be careful not to give your heart too freely," etc.

Your heart is calling you to leave the beaten path, the ego-approved trail, and walk the road less traveled -- the one your feet know by heart, and by heart alone.

As long as the ego rules, it will sabotage love and beauty. The only way to overthrow egoism is to submit to love. Let love govern your words and actions, your life. Just as much as ego will ruin relationships, love will strengthen and support them -- if you follow it. (For more about transcending ego, see "The Way of Undoing.")


"With no escort, you would be lost on
a road you have already taken."

-- Rumi

I said before that relationship is an art. And no great artist ever learned his art without help. To master anything as deep as relationship, we need guidance. It is very hard to navigate your way through the challenges and obstacles of human love without a helping hand, a more experienced voice, someone to guide you along the way.

Without guidance, people tend to make the same mistakes over and over. And when they think about their relationships by themselves, their conclusions will often be skewed by their own reactions and desires. It helps to have a wise and experienced third person to give you a true and loving perspective when things go awry. Otherwise, the continuous mistakes and negative interpretations will eat away at the heart of the relationship, the community, etc.

Of course, in this day and age, it's very unpopular to have a mentor of any kind. Most people prefer the "do it yourself" method. There's a popular saying, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." The idea is, you will take greater care for the job than others will. That may sometimes be true, but there are some instances where it just doesn't work. What if you needed to have your appendix removed? Would you want to do that yourself? Probably not.

Well, relationship takes just as much expertise to get it right. If you don't want to try your untrained hands on your appendix, why do it on your heart, your love, your life?

It's only pride that rejects instruction. The truth is, to become advanced in any skill requires that you learn from someone. Try learning the violin without a teacher; try becoming an Olympic champion without a coach; try becoming a doctor without going to medical school. Needless to say, you won't get very far.

The idea that we're supposed to handle everything in our lives ourselves has permeated Western culture, but the whole thing is preposterous and self-deluded. A wise man or woman appreciates the wisdom and expertise that a true master has accumulated. There's gold in them hills. And if we don't use it, that's our loss.

So, find someone who has clearly succeeded in love, and take their advice. That is the cleanest, fastest way to relationship success.


Without you love is blue.

It is absolutely incontrovertibly, inescapably true that without you, love is impossible. No person, however much they loved you, could make love work with you if you would not give your heart, your self, your love. If you would not unfold in their sight, be exposed, be real, be you. You, the real you, are an essential ingredient to a true, heartfelt relationship with anybody.

What we have to enjoy is what we bring to a relationship. Imagine two children trying to play together, and neither of them wants to share their toys. "Last time we used my ball it went flat!" "Last time I brought out my marbles they got all dirty!" Well, then there's no game, right?

That's exactly what most adults are doing with their hearts. "Last time I loved someone, I got hurt. I don't want to put myself on the line. You do it."

But your love, your passion, your tenderness, your feeling, your wisdom were all meant to be given, not hidden, not protected. Or else, why are you here?

If you want to enjoy love, take risks! Put parts of yourself out there that are personal. Follow your heart's impulses and inspirations to care, to give, to entertain, to delight -- even to criticize at times -- so that your loved ones can have the benefit of your self.

Withholding of self is lethal to love's potential. As long as the strategy is to withhold one's heart, due to past pain or whatever the reason, there's no possibility for fulfilling love -- not even with the Buddha, or with Jesus. Because it takes both you and someone else to make a relationship work.

The whole shebang

These are the bedrock items, the essentials for any relationship. And none of them can be negotiated away. If you want to make a car run properly, you'll need all the parts. You can't just "do without" a steering wheel, a carburetor, or a brake system.

That's true in relationship, too. You need all the essentials: investment; understanding; commitment and loyalty; ego-transcendence; guidance; and you. And of course, you need the true driving force behind all these -- love! Love is the engine in any good relationship. It provides the power that keeps it running. Only love would motivate you to do/give all the pieces we talked about; and only love will cause you to do each one right. If you follow love's lead, and listen to its promptings, you cannot go wrong.

If you think about it, you'll have to admit that you personally would never be happy with a partner who came to you without these bedrock items -- without understanding, investment, loyalty, etc. And neither would anyone else.

But someone needs to be the first to show that they're willing to give these things, to be these things. Everybody is waiting for the other guy to do it first. Like two kids about to trade goodies; neither one wants to put their offering on the table before the other does.

To be willing to do it first is what it takes to be a true lover. Unless someone is willing for that, the world will remain bereft, starving, and cold.

Be the first, be the example for everyone else to follow. Be the change you wish to see. If not, things will keep going on just as they are.

My life has been the opposite of the modern life. I have loved and been loved abundantly, served and been served hand and foot. I depend on others, and they depend on me. And in all of that, my life has spiraled up into a progressive series of ever-greater satisfactions and fulfillments that are hitherto unknown in present society. I cannot describe the wonders that true, good, intimate relationships with human beings have turned up. I have been surprised, undone, healed, and transformed.

So, my contribution, if the world will let me make it, would be to help reverse this downward spiral into social and emotional dysfunction, alienation, fear, and isolation; and help bring us back to social/emotional health.

What exactly would evolve out of a re-established condition of health is part of the ever-unfolding mysteries and delights that are inherent in real love and human relationship. Yes, love is full of mysteries and wonders -- and most people have not wandered far enough into those mystical mountains to find out what's really there. So, that's for me to know and you to find out, if you would dare take the road much less traveled, rather than the lonely, well-trodden road that leads only to heartbreak.

You can help change the tide on this lonely planet, where love is so out of fashion. You could make your home in another, and be home for someone, too. You could enjoy the treasures of heart and soul that can be found only in deep and lasting mutual love and cooperation. And believe me, that is worth living for.

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Chapter 7 - Love Over Ego

by David Truman

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