Millions of us are out there looking for the “right person”—in
bars, at parties, in clubs, at church, and on Internet dating sites,
to name a few of the ways we look. Many of us actually succeed in finding
what we’re looking for, and then we fall in love, but what happens
60% of marriages end in divorce, and 50% of married women have indicated
that if not for finances and children, they would leave their husbands.
That leaves only 20% of marriages that would even survive if the partners
felt they had a reasonable choice to leave. It is my experience—and
that of many other counselors—that 1-2% of all married couples
achieve relationships that are as rewarding as they had once hoped.
The problem seems obvious: Once we find the “right person,” we
still have no idea what to do with the relationship. And until we do
something dramatically different from what everyone else is doing, our
chances of establishing a genuinely happy long-term relationship are
Instead of frantically looking for the next “right person” in
our life, what we really need is to learn how to create and sustain loving
and rewarding relationships.
A healthy relationship is the natural result of two healthy individuals.
A great relationship is much like a beautiful duet, which is played on
two instruments. Before we can meaningfully participate in a duet, we
must learn how to play an instrument by ourselves. Few of us are prepared
to be the kind of happy and loving partner that a loving relationship
requires. And that brings us to the central question: What do we all
require before we can be happy as individuals? What quality must we possess
individually before we can participate in a great relationship?
We All Want Most — Unconditional Love
In order to be happy, what we all want more than anything else is to
feel loved. We prove that every day with the songs we sing, the movies
we watch, the books we read, and the conversations we have. Love is the
strongest theme uniting all these activities, but it’s not just
any kind of love we’re looking for.
What we all want most is unconditional love, or Real Love. Real
Love is caring about the happiness of another person without any
thought for what we might get for ourselves. It’s not Real Love
when you do what I want and I like you. That’s relatively worthless;
that’s earning or buying love. It’s Real Love
when you make mistakes and inconvenience me, but I’m not disappointed
Sadly, few of us have sufficiently received or given that kind of love—not
just during our marriages but for our entire lives. From the time we
were small children, we observed that when we didn’t fight with
our sisters, didn’t make too much noise in the car, got good grades,
and were otherwise obedient and cooperative, our parents and others smiled
at us, patted our heads, and spoke kindly. With their words and behavior,
they told us what good boys and girls we were.
But what happened when we did fight with our sisters, made too much
noise, got bad grades, and dragged mud across the clean living room carpet?
Did people smile at us or speak gentle, loving words? No—they frowned,
sighed with disappointment, and often spoke in harsh tones. Just as the
positive behaviors of other people communicated to us that we were loved,
the withdrawal of those behaviors could only mean that we were not being
loved. Although it was unintentional, our parents and others taught us
this terrible message: “When you’re good, I love you, but
when you’re not, I don’t—or certainly I love you a
great deal less.”
This conditional love can give us brief moments of satisfaction, but
we’re still left with a huge hole in our souls, because only Real
Love can make us genuinely happy. Without sufficient Real Love, we can
only feel empty and alone, which is the greatest ongoing pain in our
lives. In any given negative interaction with a relationship partner,
it is the longstanding lack of Real Love in your life that determines
how you feel and respond, not the behavior of your partner in that moment.
In any given moment, you react to the amount of love you feel from everyone,
past and present, not just from the person you’re interacting with.
Real Love — Changing Ourselves and Our Relationships
Once we understand the critical role of Real Love in our lives, we can
begin to do something to find it and make genuine changes in ourselves
and in our relationships, instead of just playing games with relationship
techniques, which never make much difference in the long term.
Read the book Real
Love in Dating and take advantage of the many resources available
on RealLove.com, where you will learn the principles that will
make dramatic changes in your life and in your relationships. In Real
Love in Dating, you'll learn:
- What we all need most before we can be genuinely happy: Real
Love, unconditional love
- The real reason couples fall in and out of love
- How to find and become the perfect partner
- What we use as substitutes for Real Love and how that Imitation
Love destroys relationships
- How we behave when we don't feel loved unconditionally, and
how these “Getting and Protecting Behaviors” make
us miserable and tear our relationships apart
- How to find the Real Love that will guarantee lasting and rewarding
- How to build a great relationship and keep your perfect partner
"This Real Love stuff is amazing. It's
completely changed the way I date. I wish I'd known about it
years ago. Everybody needs to read about Real Love before they
go on their next date."
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Love in Dating
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Love in Dating
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