Love is Not Enough (Synopsis Only)

BrainDiagram60874Premise: In order to have a healthy love relationship, you need to know how to love the other unconditionally.  However, love is not enough for a successful relationship.  You need to also like and approve of the other person at least 51%.   If there are too many things you don’t like about the other person or you disapprove of too many things about them, you are not likely to have a very harmonious, happy relationship, even if you do love them unconditionally[1].

This makes sense, when you state it in black and white like this, but there is so much “stuff” around love and relationships, that many of us have idealistic or romanticized notions that “love is the answer” or “love is all you need” or have been acculturated to deny, suppress or talk ourselves out of our likes and dislikes “in the name of love”.

It is not realistic, however, to think you will “like and approve” everything about a love partner.  Do you even like and approve of yourself 100%?   Not likely, unless you are not being honest with yourself or are not very self-aware.

The goal of this project (book and website/blog) would be to highlight the difference between “loving” and “liking/approving” and help readers to make the distinction in their relationships and to stop mixing up the two.

It’s O.K. to “not like” or “disapprove of” something about your spouse or lover, and it doesn’t mean you don’t “love them.”  This is a very simple, but very profound, principle.  It deserves a wide audience.

One tentative structure:  Part One to “make the case” for this simple principle, with interviews with respected “relationship success” researchers and therapists to give the principle credibility and richness, and to hopefully prevent the principle from being dismissed as just another “pop psychology/self-help” unvalidated theory.

Part Two would focus on the “commitment” piece in a relationship and the reality that if you are really committing to a relationship, you are committing to the whole person, which will include the things you don’t like and don’t approve of (many of which you won’t even be aware of before the marriage or commitment).

Part Two would also aim to “pop the partner-perfection-expectation bubble” and do justice to the reality that every one of us has strengths and weaknesses, in a credible, engaging, thought-provoking way.  It will also explore whether a factor in the high divorce rate in the developed world might have some connection to unrealistic ideas about the “perfection” of one’s mate.[2]

Part Three would explore effective strategies for improving one’s skill in dealing with the “not-likes” and “don’t approves” in your relationships.

A second, simpler format for such a book could be more of a “how to” “relationship self-help” book — focusing on how to “not like” and “disapprove” without denigrating the other and without connecting the “not liking” or “disapproving” to “not loving”.

Although there are already several books just on Amazon with the title Love is Not Enough (most interestingly, one by Bruno Bettelheim from 1970) and the influential cognitive therapy book by Aaron T. Beck from 1988 titled Love is Never Enough, starting with building a successful website, blog & interviews, and building an audience, along with content targeted to special audiences (eg. Love is Not Enough for Being a Great Parent), and would make this stand out and could even capitalize on the prevalence of the title “Love is Not Enough” (there are also several movies and songs titled “Love is Not Enough” or “When Love is Not Enough.”)

[1]    This is a principle taught by a successful, influential relationship teacher, Dr. Pat Allen, Ph. D., MFCC.  She is the author of Getting to “I Do” (1994) and  Staying Married and Loving It! (1997), a practicing psychotherapist in Southern California and frequent speaker and workshop/retreat leader.

[2]      Dr. Pat Allen actually teaches that if you’re already in a committed relationship and you “like and approve” of your partner at least 51%, you’d be wise to think very, very carefully before ending the relationship, because there is no guarantee you’d find another mate that exceeds that percentage.