There was once a man who didn’t believe in love. This was an ordinary man just like you and me, but what made this man special was his way of thinking: He thought love doesn’t exist. Of course, he had a lot of experience trying to find love, and he observed the people around him. Much of his life had been spent searching for love, only to find that love didn’t exist.
Wherever this man went, he would tell people of his thoughts and opinions on love. This man was highly intelligent, and he was very convincing. What he said was the love is just like a drug; it makes you very high, but it creates a strong need. You can become highly addicted to love, but what happens when you don’t receive your daily doses of love? Just like a drug, you need your everyday doses.
He used to say that most relationships between lovers are just like a relationship between a drug addict and the one who provides the drugs. The one who has the biggest need is like the drug addict; the one who has a little need is like the provider. The one who has the little need is the one who controls the whole relationship. You can see this dynamic so clearly because usually in every relationship there is one who loves the most and the other who doesn’t love as much. You can see the way they manipulate each other, their actions and reactions, and they are just like the provider and the drug addict.
The drug addict, the one who has the biggest need, lives in constant fear that perhaps he will not be able to get the next dosage of love, or the drug. The drug addict thinks, “What am I going to do if she leaves me?” That fear makes the drug addict very possessive. “That’s mine!” The addict becomes jealous and demanding, because the fear of not having the next dosage. The provider can control and manipulate the one who needs the drug by giving more doses, fewer doses, or no doses at all. The one who has the biggest need completely surrenders and will whatever he can to avoid being abandoned.
The man went on explain to everyone why love doesn’t exist, and how what humans call ‘love’ is nothing but a fear relationship based on control. So many promises are made to each other: to live together forever, to love and respect each other, through the good times and the bad times but after marriage, you can see that none of these promises are kept.
What you find is a war of control to see who will manipulate whom. Who will be the provider? And who will have the addiction. You find that a few months later, the respect that they swear to have for each other is gone. You can see the resentment, the emotional poison, how they hurt each other, little by little, and it grows and grows, until they don’t know when the love stops. They stay together because they are afraid to be alone, afraid of the opinions and judgments of others, and also afraid of their judgments and opinions. But where is the love?
The man went on and on about all the reasons why he believed love doesn’t exist.
The one day this man was walking in a park, and there on a bench was a beautiful lady who was crying. When he saw her crying, felt curiosity. Sitting beside her, he asked if he could help her. He asked why she was crying. You can imagine his surprise when she told him she was crying because love doesn’t exist. “This is amazing—a woman who believes that love doesn’t exist!” Of course he wanted to know more about her.
He asked her why she felt that love doesn’t exist and she told him about her marriage and how she and her husband had both lost respect for each other. She told him about how they hurt each other, and at a certain point she discovered that she didn’t love him and that he didn’t love her either. ‘But the children need a father, and that was my excuse to stay and to do whatever I could to support him. Now the children are grown up and they have left. I no longer have any excuse to stay with him….There is no sense to look around for something that doesn’t exist. That is why I am crying.’
Understand her very well, he embraced her and said, you are right; love doesn’t exist. We look for love, we open our heart and we become vulnerable, just to find selfishness. That hurts us even if we don’t think we will be hurt. It doesn’t matter how many relationships we have; the same thing happens again and again. Why even search for love any longer?”
They were so much alike, and they became the best friends ever. It was a wonderful relationship. They respected each other, and they never put each other down. With every step they took together, they were happy. There was no envy or jealousy, there was no control, and there was no possessiveness. The relationship kept growing and growing. They loved to be together, because when they were together, they had a lot of fun. When they were not together, they missed each other.
One day when the man was out of town, he had the weirdest idea. He was thinking, ‘Hmm, maybe what I feel for her is love. But this is so different from what I have ever felt before. It’s not what the poets say it is, it’s not what religion says it is, because I am not responsible for her. I don’t take anything from her; I don’t have the need for her to take care of me; I don’t need to blame her for my difficulties or to take my dramas to her. We have the best time together; we enjoy each other. I respect the way she thinks, the way she feels. She doesn’t embarrass me; she doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t feel jealous when she’s with other people; I don’t feel envy when she is successful. Perhaps love does exist, but it’s not what everyone thinks love is.’
He could hardly wait to go back home and talk to her, to let her know about his weird idea. As soon as he started talking, she knew exactly what he was talking about. She felt the same way. They decided to become lovers and to live together, and it was amazing that things didn’t change. They still respected each other, they were still supportive of each other, and the love grew more and more.
The man’s heart was so full with all the love he felt that one night a great miracle happened. He was looking at the stars and he found the most beautiful one, and his love was so big that the star started coming down from the sky and soon that star was in his hands. Then a second miracle happened, and his soul merged with that star. He was intensely happy, and he could hardly wait to go to the woman and put that start in her hands to prove his love for her. As soon as he put the star in her hands, she felt a moment of doubt. This love was overwhelming, and in that moment, the star fell from her hands and broke in a million of little pieces.
Now there is an old man walking around the world swearing that love doesn’t exist. And there is a beautiful old woman at home waiting for a man, shedding a tear for a paradise that once she had in her hands, but for one moment of doubt, she let it go. This is the story about the man who didn’t believe in love.
Who made the mistake?
Excerpt from Mastery of Love – Don Miquel Ruiz