You may be looking for a relationship believing that you need a partner to complete you. Thinking that you need someone to complete you is not only wrong, it is also dangerous. It simply implies that you are inherently incomplete. It’s dangerous in a sense that it sets you up to a co-dependent relationship wherein your happiness depends on your partner and without him or her you will shatter. Don’t find someone to complete you. Before you enter a relationship, work out on completing yourself.
A fulfilling relationship is one wherein both partners are capable of being happy, succeeding and making decisions on their own. This way, both of them can share happiness and success, and help each other make the right choices in life. So Sharon Moore is saying that this is the way to a fulfilling romantic relationship.
The type of relationship that will last
Consummate love has:
This characterises a relationship that can last a lifetime and that can survive many challenges. It is the acceptance of the pain as well as the joy of a relationship. Not to fool oneself that there will be no pain. Not to fool oneself that it depends on chemistry. So there may not be a romantic phase in such a relationship since it is based on how the person really is rather than some idealised notion of what the person is like.
So it is to separate two components of love. There is the automatic part of falling in love which normally is seen as something that happens to us and isn’t under our control. Then there is the part that is under our control which is acting in a loving way, spending time with someone, choosing to put that person as a priority in our life and listening to what they want but being aware too on a nonverbal level of what they want.
So we make a distinction between obsession, infatuation, and actually caring about someone and not just thinking what they do for us especially in terms of sexual pleasure. Quite often romantic love takes sexual pleasure as a main component. So if a man is sexually active can he be with a woman, who for whatever reason, has difficulty with having sex when just romantic love is involved?
What is necessary for consummate love?
But it is to commit and deal with the pain and joy of fulfilment that a consummate relationship can bring. Sternberg, in his research, says three things are necessary for those who want consummate love in a relationship. They are creativity, wisdom and intelligence. It is creatively adapting to change and using intelligence to make the relationship work in a practical but also analytical way. Using intelligence involves the will. So it is the will to make it work. As Fromm wrote it is not being in love but being loving. So loving in general so that one can love in particular. A very important point as it then avoids the idea of being isolated in a relationship where one is smothered by exclusive love. Wisdom is needed to understand the partner’s point of view (Empathy). It is to be aware of what counts as good answers as the relationship changes over time. It is being flexible and creative in the relationship.
If you would like to learn more about how therapy can help you in your relationships please download my eBook ‘Intimate Relationships’ from the books page of this website.