Having read a bunch of books on love, I thought I would share my understanding of how love seems to work in a generally psychologically healthy relationship.
First we find someone pretty similar to ourselves in looks, background, life histories, etc. Then we let down our boundaries, start projecting our selves onto them, and see them as an extension of ourselves. However, when we do that, we cover up the parts of our lover that we don’t really like too much or that we needed in the other person – so that we can idealize them – because they are perfect, right. And which parts do we cover up or put on the other person? Those parts that we have had trouble dealing with within ourselves or those areas that we felt that we didn’t have internally.
Then as the lust of the relationship fades away, you slowly see your partner for who they are… and all hell breaks lose. It is in this process that you have the biggest opportunity for personal growth in your relationship, if you grab hold of it. However, most people don’t realize this, and just get frustrated at what annoys them about their partner and end up bitter. (Think of all the jokes about marriage out there!)
But, if you are more mature, and realize that these areas really point inwardly to things that YOU are trying to cover up, OR YOU WOULDN’T NOTICE THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE, you can start looking internally, instead of pointing the finger at your partner. And as you see your partner for who they are, you are forced to accept them for who they are as well, and in doing so, you are forced to accept yourself as well – or make some internal changes to yourself to get in line!
This acceptance of the other, creates “true love” since you are giving to the other person by accepting them as the imperfect person that they are – and still love them in their imperfection. This is the love that lasts and is the goal of a satisfying relationship.