As I was saying few days ago, the world has changed radically since I first wrote “How to Fall Out of Love”. In that distant time, nobody had heard of the Internet, Walmart, Starbucks and Tim Tebow. Now we connect on Facebook and Zoosk. We Skype, Google and tweet to give our friends the news of our lives with a click. And yet, as much as the world has changed since I first wrote the book, human nature hasn’t changed at all. When love ends today it is just as painful as it was in those distant days before the Internet.
Isn’t it ironic that love, our greatest source of joy, can inflict so much pain?
Half the marriages in the United States end in divorce, casual affairs are common, and there’s a parallel rise in suffering.Perhaps as choices increase and the old behavior codes decline, anxiety rises. Perhaps people are simply more open about their pain.
Whatever the reason, every time I mention that I have a program called “How to Fall Out of Love,” I am swamped with letters and phone calls and personal visits from people who have seen the order of their lives turn to chaos, who suffer emotional devastation and pain and who desperately need help. And now with years more experience, hundreds of new cases, and innumerable improvements to my program, I knew I could make “How to Fall Out of Love” better and I knew I had to renew it.
A couple of years ago, while I was clicking through Amazon’s books, I had a hunch. I clicked again and to my amazement, there it was. I was stunned. I’d written “How to Fall Out of Love” over thirty years ago. At the time it caused quite a stir. I was on Oprah 4 times, the Today show twice, five pages in People magazine, and profiled in the New York Times. But all that was so long ago. And yet, there the book was (and is) still in print.
I hadn’t really forgotten about “How to Fall Out of Love”. I’ve treated hundreds of patients, in my practice in Los Angeles, New York, and Paris who were in love and suffering because their love wasn’t returned or because they were in a dead end relationship. When I saw “How to Fall Out of Love” was still in print, thirty years later with no advertising, or PR, I realized it must be because my systematic, step by step program still works.
Of course I knew it works because with many changes and improvements, I’m still seeing a virtually 100 % success rate healing my patients with broken hearts.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Yes, the world has changed in almost every way since those days before the Internet, smart phones, personal computers, satellite TV, those long ago days when he wore bell bottom trousers and she wore flowers in her hair. But one thing hasn’t changed: Human nature hasn’t changed at all.
Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to bring “How to Fall Out of Love” up to date.
Why do people who barely know each other have sex? A huge number of single adults assume that if they like each other, they’ll have sex on the first date.
And then they wonder why they feel empty and unhappy. If the sex was any good it was a miracle because great sex is all about affection, love, vulnerability, trust and communication. You can’t conjure those emotions and skills out of thin air. Especially not with a stranger. Your chances of getting it wrong are very high. Making love to Sally the way you made love to your former girlfriend Joan is like forcing Sally into Joan’s clothes. It’s uncomfortable, awkward and, well, all wrong. Sex with a stranger can hurt either one of you or both. One of you might feel waves of affection. While the other can’t wait to get away.
Great sex isn’t an accident and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s worth repeating: great sex is the result of the trust, affection, intimacy and confidence between two people who take the time it takes to know and love each other. Some people need more time than others. Of course there are exceptions, there are always exceptions. Sex and love may not be connected. But great sex and love are.
The most common problems stem from believing the childish fairy tale that one day you will find your perfect, perfect person, the one who will be right for you in every way. It’s an impossibly high hope that always leads to disappointment and broken relationships. There is no perfect person for you. One person cannot fulfill all your needs and expectations. And it is an unfair burden to expect them to carry.
A definition of love as giving and sharing means that you do not exploit the other person. It’s so easy to make demands or be critical, but less easy when another person’s needs are as important to you as your own. To be sure, there are plenty of people in love who play destructive or manipulative roles. But that’s not helpful to either partner. And usually we see one person being exploited, diminished and even damaged.
The best of love is a total acceptance of another person; an acceptance of weaknesses, mistakes and vulnerabilities along with the goodness and strengths. Accepting and being accepted means that you are free to be yourself in a relationship. You don’t have to play a role or feel you have to change yourself or your partner into someone slightly different.
So…..Love: If it hurts, it’s not worth it.
What do you feel? True or not true?