A person's beliefs regarding the nature of love will greatly affect his romantic relationships. Here are three harmful imitations that people often mistake for love:

1. Yearning and Gratification

Sometimes, the ego associates love with longing or yearning, followed by gratification of those yearnings. Security, sexual gratification, ego enhancement - these are just some of the selfish yearnings that the ego wants from relationships. But because human nature is insatiable, the ego will always end up needing more than what any partner can give.

When the efforts of a partner are no longer "doing it" for the ego, it may blame the partner.

2. Ego Reflection

In a romantic relationship, the person's ego doesn't care about its partner as much as it cares about what its partner thinks about it.

While the relationship is intact, the ego is acting out roles, playing games to get its partner to believe the image it portrays. When the partner thinks the ego is perfect, the ego is happy. But nobody can fake it forever. When the partner sees something other than a perfect image, the ego may prefer to run away rather than accept an imperfect reflection.

3. A Drug

The intense emotions and excitement from romantic relationships can bring a sensation of euphoria. This immensely pleasurable and exciting sensation can act as a drug. The appeal of all drugs is that they are an easy means of masking the pain and difficulty of life with a sensation of ecstasy. But like all drugs, the high will always wear off, leaving the user with potent pain, intense cravings and unpleasant side effects.

All of these love imitations are rooted in selfishness. The ego chooses these imitations so it can justify its selfish behavior and call it "love." But true love is never selfish - it is selfless.

True love is rooted in the awareness of - and belief in - the sacred value of another. This awareness of a person's immense worth leads to the desire to selflessly contribute to him. True love doesn't depend on a partner's performance as much as it depends on a person's own willingness to look within himself and see the truth.

If a relationship is rooted in something other than true love, it can evolve into true love when the person directs his awareness inward and works to understand the sacred, valuable nature of his partner. The power of love is that, through the journey to know the sacred nature of a partner, a person will come to know the sacred nature of himself.

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