The following is from A Conscious Person’s Guide to Relationships by Ken Keyes, Jr.
Love: Involvement Vs. Addiction
To get the most from your relationship, you’ll find it helpful to distinguish between involvement with a person and addiction to being with the person. Let’s define these two kky terms.
Involvement means “l share my life with you.” Addiction means “l create the experience that I am lost without you. I need you to be happy.”
Involvement means spending a lot of time together. Addiction means creating emotion-backed demands in my head that dictate what my partner should say and do — it means “ownership.”
Involvement means that I choose to share a large part of my life with my beloved and build a mutual reality together. Addiction means that I feel insecure without someone — l want him or her
to save me.
My involvement gives me the opportunity to experience all of the beautiful, loving things that a relationship can bring into my life. It also lets us shoulder
together the responsibilities and problems of life and develop a mutual trust. Addiction opens a can of worms that makes me tarnish the beauty of my relationship. It makes me impose a lot
of emotion-backed models of how my partner should be for me to let myself be happy.
Since involvement offers us the deeper enjoyments of a relationship, and addiction leads to misery in a relationship, let’s look more closely at how involvement and addiction
interact. It’s possible to have a relationship in which there is:
1. Maximum involvement and maximum addiction.
2. Minimum involvement and maximum addiction.
3. Minimum involvement and minimum addiction.
4. Maximum involvement and minimum addiction.
Since these four possibilities create varying degrees of heaven or hell in a relationship, let’s find out how you can set up your relationship so that it can be as heavenly as possible. But first, remember that I am talking about your own involvement and your own addictions. It does not refer to what your partner says or does. Instead it puts the spotlight on how you are operating your head. And this is good news.
Any approach to getting the most out of life that depends on manipulating or changing another person is ultimately doomed to fail. But when you know how to succeed within yourself, you have all the aces in your hand. Actually it’s only your mental habits that stand between you and your continuous enjoyment of the melodrama of your life.
Let’s look at setup number one — maximum involvement with maximum addiction. In this state you have deeply involved your life with the life of another person. You are living with your
partner, and are usually with him or her many hours each day. You are addicted to being with this person. You have “territorial” feelings toward your beloved; you have many emotion-backed demands of how this person should act to fit your models. We often call this situation “romantic love.” Once the romance is killed by addictions, what’s left is just “possessive love.”
Romantic or possessive love is unstable and tends to be emotionally explosive. Frequently heard are such statements as “lf you really loved me you would . . . .” (fill in your addictive demand). This romantic-possessive aspect of the maximum involvement and maximum addiction phase keeps you yo-yoing up and down. You’re very happy when things are fitting your addictions; you’re very unhappy when they aren’t. And in this phase, love is highly conditional. I love you when you meet my addictive models, and I’m rejecting you when you don’t. Romantic or possessive love can create beautiful feelings at times. But it is a bumpy road-often with a washout at the end.
Now let’s look at what happens when you have minimum involvement and maximum addiction. This is when the tears get to flow in your soap opera. It’s usually called “broken heart.” Minimum
involvement means that you do not spend much time (or any time) with the other person, but you’re still creating the experience that your happiness depends on being with him or her. Minimum
involvement and maximum addiction sets you up for triggering disillusionment, cynicism, anger, resentment and the whole Pandora’s box of separating emotions. Although you’re not involved in living together, your mind can still produce an intense experience of jealousy.
A third type of situation occurs when there is minimum involvement and minimum addiction. It’s often called “good friends.” Since minimum involvement means that you’re not spending much time together, you’re not tuning in to the richer veins of human experience that more involvement offers. However, you’re not creating a lot of stuff either, since your mind is not playing out heavy addictions about how the relationship should be. With minimum involvement and minimum addiction, your relationship is generally a light and pleasant one.
It’s the fourth state that gives you all of the goodies of a deep relationship and none of the unhappiness. This is characterized by maximum involvement and minimum addiction. In this state, you consciously enjoy the relationship and realistically play the relationship game. By living together and having the opportunity to more deeply participate in each other’s thoughts and feelings, you have the greatest opportunity to create all of the beautiful sharings that the relationship can bring you. And yet by minimizing your addiction, you do not keep the here-and-now muddied up with emotion-backed demands that your partner say and do things differently.
In this ideal state, your love is less and less conditional. You can communicate with your partner and tell him or her what you prefer in the relationship. But you quickly work on yourself to handle any addictions you are creating that can chip away at your feelings of love. You get to cooperate in the great adventure of life together and to contribute to each other’s well-being. Here’s a chart that can be helpful in sorting out how involvement and addiction interact to determine the quality and quantity of your relationship.
The importance of working on your addictions is spotlighted by what I’m going to call the “law” governing relationships: IF YOU DON’T HANDLE YOUR ADDICTIONS, YOU’LL AUTOMATICALLY DECREASE YOUR INVOLVEMENT. From this it follows that to maintain a high level of involvement or to increase your involvement, you must handle your addictions. Now you’ve got the key to living “happily ever after” — or at least knowing what the problem is!