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I Only Have Eyes for You: Love as the Road to Happiness

This is one of the media’s favorite paths to happiness. If you can only find love, true love, you’ll find happiness. Of course, the media is also filled with the abject misery that falling in love can bring, as represented in big-screen films, newspaper stories, reality shows, magazine articles, and weekly sitcoms.

Love and its promises are a huge media business.

Media promises love conquers all and then makes sure you are aware of love’s colossal failures. Sensitive to your confusion and natural apprehension, the media then produces reams of information on how to love, how to be in love, how to maintain love, how to avoid the wrong kinds of love, how to get over broken love, and how to find love again.

Relationships and the love they bring are a source of great happiness. I can say this wholeheartedly as a husband and father. The false promise, however, comes when just being in love or just being in a relationship is sold as the road to happiness. The unspoken threat is that you cannot be happy unless you are in love and in a relationship. The pressure, then, to get on with it, to fall in love and be in a relationship, is huge.

The pressure, of course, is also right alongside the pressure and promise of happiness in education and career. So, according to the media, in order to hedge your happiness bets, you should be simultaneously pursuing education, career, and relationship.

 I”m not sure about the happiness part, but this looks like a recipe for stress! (I speak from personal experience, having simultaneously gotten married, started The Center, and pursued my doctorage all within 2 years. I have a vague recollection of thoe 24 months, but you’d have to ask my wife, LaFon, if you want to know any specifics!)

Relationships, just taken on their own, are often stressful enough. When you add the unspoken expectation that this person, this relationship, is supposed to make you truly happy, it’s an invitation for failure and disappointment.

If you thought your career was a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” proposition, it’s nothing compared to being in a relationship where your partner looks to you to bring him or her happiness all the time. I don’t know of anyone who can pull off that kind of miracle.

SOURCE: Chapter 1, “Detours On the Road to Happiness,” in Happy for the Rest of Your Life by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, Inc.

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