Love Is A Let . . . Relationships Are A Choice
 By Lynn Seiser, Ph.D., MFT



You can love someone but still never be able to have a healthy relationship with them. You can have a healthy relationship with someone you donít love. Love and relationships are two entirely different things. Wisdom, as the Serenity Prayers says, is to know the difference.

Love is a let. Love is of the heart. We simply seem to love whom we love. No questions asked. Love is unconditional, it allows us to look past all those little idiosyncrasies we think are cute now but will later drive us absolutely nuts. Love knows no rhyme or reason. Love just is. It would appear that love chooses us if it deems us worthy. Love is totally out of our control. Understanding the out of controllness of love allows us to explain and excuse many of our bad relationships.

The chemistry of love is often mistaken for the adrenaline of fear and the wishful thinking of our idealistic and romantic mind. Love does heal, but it brings up all the wounds that need healing. Love gives us the opportunity to heal old wounds or inflict new ones on each other. Love just is. We canít make someone love us or make ourselves love someone. Love is of the heart. Love is a let.

Relationships are a choice. We choose whom we will be in a relationship with and how we are going to behave. We most often choose the people we believe we are in love with. This is where the distinction gets important. Simply because someone gets your attention does not mean they are the best long-term choice. It doesnít mean they will make a good partner tomorrow. Some of those characteristics that get our attention tonight may be those that cause a divorce tomorrow.

A wise choice, one that is mindful and consciously aware, can be the best criteria for our present and future happiness. Everyone wants to be loved and appreciated for who they are. We all want love. Not many people choose relationships that give them what they want. Choose wisely. Relationships are a choice from an aware mind.

How we relate is also a choice. We choose whom we want to be in a relationship with. Many people mistakenly behave in a certain way to attract a relationship and then change once they are in it. The other person wonders where you went. They donít understand the change. You might not either. Changing is something we may do automatically and unconsciously. We have been programmed by our history and society to think a certain way and to play by certain rules, even if those ways and rules donít work.

It is important to be consistent with the person you choose to be with. If many of us stayed the way we were when we first attracted the relationship, we just might keep it. In that attraction-dating model we listen to each other and care about each otherís day. We are romantic and consciously pay attention. Some of the reasons people fall out of love and lose their relationship are that they simply have not consistently and consciously taken good care of it.

Many people are not proud of the way they behave in a relationship. They become reactionary and defensive, and strike out or withdraw. To keep a relationship healthy you must remain healthy yourself no matter what your partner does. Everyday, ask yourself if you can look back on this day with pride. If so, continue, if not, choose again.

Another excellent reason to make wiser choices in relationships is our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Most of what we learn about relationships, we get through identification and imitation of our parents. If your son or daughter were in a relationship like you now have, would you be happy? If so, please continue with my deepest compliments and appreciation. If not, choose again.

Choose to be the person you want your children to be and to choose as a mate. Choose to be in a relationship that you would want  them to be in. Not only will they have a better chance, you might just have a better relationship too. Choose a better future for your children.

Two things that consistently come up in couples and divorce counseling are drugs and violence. If you really want to have a healthy relationship, stop living in an altered state of consciousness. Life is hard enough without making major life decisions while under the influence of intoxicating substances. There is no place for violence in a healthy relationship or in love. Violence takes many forms. It can be physical, verbal, emotional, and neglectful. All forms hurt deeply and kill the essence of love. You can choose to refuse to become violent and refuse to be in violent relationships

While love is a let, relationships are a choice. Choose with wise mindful awareness.

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey.

Lynn Seiser, Ph.D., is an internationally respected psychotherapist and author with offices in Long Beach and Tustin.

Return to the May/June Index page