I AM OMIYEHAN SUNDAY
AND I PRESENT
TO MY FRIEND IN LOVE
characteristic of love for all of successfull Secrets Of Falling in Love
love is what man can never explain and grap to the end, but with experience in
falling in love you can still control feeling of love till the end of love. the
end of love in the life of human is love of death. when there is love of death
between two partner the other partner need to control love feeling. all you have
experience in that love that depart was the spirit in his or her love, one the
spirit is gone the rest become dust dirty, but if you say God give me the spirit
of love that i love then the love in spirit will come to you.
yes there is love in spirit and love of the body
some time you fall in love with one that is rejected by all men that is the loove
while some time you fall in love because you just like shape of the body and
now see what we have about loving and dating.
The Real Reasons We Do,
And Why It Doesn’t Last
If we don’t have enough Real Love in our lives, the resulting emptiness
is unbearable. We then compulsively try to fi ll our emptiness with
whatever feels good in the moment—money, anger, sex, alcohol,
drugs, violence, and the conditional approval of others. Anything
we use as a substitute for Real Love becomes a form of Imitation
Love, and they all fall into one or more of four categories:
Let’s discuss how we use these forms of Imitation Love, and how
they affect our individual happiness and our ability to participate
In the absence of sufficient Real Love, praise feels pretty good. From
the time we were small children, we all experienced the exhilaration
10 Chapter Two
of hearing “Good boy” or “Good girl” or “Nice job” when we
behaved in the ways other people liked, and most of us have devoted
the remainder of our lives to duplicating that feeling.
Th e pursuit of praise is so widespread that it’s accepted as normal,
even desirable. We’ve all heard, for example, the expressions “Put
your best foot forward” and “Always make a good fi rst impression.”
Without realizing it, our parents, teachers, and others taught us that
earning praise was a good thing, and we accepted their counsel.
Putting your best foot forward, however, has signifi cant
drawbacks. Imagine that you read an advertisement in the paper
that states, “Best apples you’ve ever eaten.” Rushing down to the
store, you fi nd on display the most beautiful apples you’ve ever
seen. Th e store clerk off ers you a slice of one of the apples, and
you discover that they taste every bit as good as they look. You
buy an entire bushel and load them in the car. At home you eat
nearly a dozen of the apples in the fi rst couple of days, and you pat
yourself on the back that you saw that newspaper advertisement.
You even tell your friends about your good fortune. On the third
day, however, after eating through the upper two layers of apples,
you discover that all the rest of the apples are soft and old, and
many are rotten.
Rushing back to the store, you confront the clerk about the
rotten apples, saying, “You promised that these would be the best
apples I’d ever eaten.”
“But the apples on top were the best you’d ever eaten,” says the
clerk. “Am I right?”
“Well, I guess they were,” you say, “but that’s not the point.
You lied to me.”
“I did not lie,” says the clerk. “I gave you the best apples you’d
ever eaten, just as I promised.”
Real Love in Dating 11
“What about the rotten apples?” you protest.
“I delivered exactly what I promised,” says the clerk. “I didn’t
tell you about the rotten ones, because then I knew you wouldn’t
buy the whole bushel—and you didn’t ask me about them, either.
You were happy enough when you bought them. It’s not my fault
that you didn’t look through the bushel to see if it was the same on
the bottom as the top.”
It’s quite obvious that the clerk lied to you—he completely
misrepresented his product—but he did nothing diff erent from
what most of us do on a fi rst date. Two people on a fi rst date are
engaging in a “best foot festival,” with each party diligently putting
on a show of his or her best characteristics. On the surface, that
might appear commendable, but look at the eventual consequences
of people putting their best apples on top. Th ey both believe that
the other person’s best foot—his or her best apples—accurately
represents who that person really is, and that’s where the problems
After two people successfully establish a relationship based on
their best foot, they eventually discover that their partner is a lot
more than his or her best foot—that, metaphorically, there is also
the other foot, bad breath, and numerous other imperfections—and
the resultant disappointment can be overwhelming. Both partners
feel deceived, cheated, and betrayed, and it’s understandable that
they vent their frustration on their partner. “After all,” they reason—
silently and aloud—“I used to be happy in this relationship, but
now I’m not, so you must be withholding the happiness you once
When a relationship goes bad, our natural conclusion is that our
partner has failed us in some way, breaking the unspoken contract
we’d made together. But the real reason relationships fail is that
from the beginning we established the relationship on something
less than the complete truth about ourselves. Expectations were
created, and when those were not met—when the truth came out
12 Chapter Two
about who we were, and who our partners were—we felt as though
our dreams had been crushed.
Relationships fail because we create them on a foundation
lacking the one ingredient—Real Love—most essential to happiness
and fulfi lling relationships. Without suffi cient Real Love, neither
partner has the tools to create a healthy and mutually rewarding
relationship. Without enough Real Love, the foundation of any
relationship will be fatally fl awed, and no amount of time, eff ort,
and worry spent on the windows, doors, and carpets will ever create
a healthy relationship. With Real Love, nothing else matters; without
it, nothing else is enough.
Most of us were taught to put our best foot forward,
and to create a great fi rst impression. Regrettably, our
partners choose us on the basis of that falsely positive
image, and when we can’t maintain it, the results are
enormous disappointment and bitterness.
Tragically, although Real Love is essential to happiness, most of
us have never had consistent experiences with it, as we discussed in
Chapter One. In our emptiness and pain, we’re only too eager to
reach out for anything that makes us feel better, however superfi cial
and fl eeting that relief might be. We use Imitation Love—praise
being just one form—because it does feel good for a moment, even
though it never really fi lls our emptiness. To use a metaphor, what
we’d really like is cookies that are warm and fresh out of the oven,
with that unforgettable smell, taste, and texture. If we can’t have
freshly baked cookies, however, we’ll take stale cookies over nothing
Our obsession with praise as a form of Imitation Love can
be illustrated by a study recently done at a major university. Of
the incoming freshmen women that year, 65% were found to
Real Love in Dating 13
have a signifi cant eating disorder—mostly bulimia and anorexia.
Th ese women were so eager to be praised for their appearance that
they were willing to starve themselves or induce vomiting after
meals. Th ey were willing to physically injure themselves because
all women know that physically beautiful women—translation:
sexually attractive women—are treated quite diff erently from those
who are not considered attractive. To demonstrate this, a group of
social scientists studied the reactions of a group of people to two
women placed at opposite ends of the room—one woman a model,
the other considerably less attractive by most standards. To the
surprise of no one, the “unattractive” woman was treated virtually
like a leper, while the model received a great deal of attention. Th is
diff erential treatment was observed not only among the men at the
gathering, but among the women as well.
Unintentionally, we teach our children from a young age—
even in their bedtime stories—that it’s very important to be praised
for one’s appearance. As a child, did you hear the fairy tale about
the princess who was rather average looking? No, I didn’t either.
In our bedtime stories, we use the terms beautifulprincess and
handsomeprince as though they were each one word. Without
meaning to, we’re teaching our children that they must be beautiful
or handsome in order to earn the praise—and, by implication, the
As we vigorously engage in the pursuit of praise, however, we
come to the terrible realization that the satisfaction it provides
never lasts for any signifi cant period. After you’ve worked for an
hour, or a day, or a week, for example, to complete a project at
work or elsewhere, it’s quite satisfying to hear the approving words,
“Nice job,” but that feeling soon wears off , and then you have to
work all over again to get another dose of it. Th e eff ects of praise
are always short-lived, leaving us empty and desperate for more.
People who consistently use addictive drugs soon discover
that the eff ect becomes increasingly brief, and more of the drug
is required in order to achieve the same outcome. All the forms
14 Chapter Two
of Imitation Love are like addictive drugs. Despite all the eff ort
required to earn Imitation Love, the benefi cial eff ects of praise,
power, money, and sex become increasingly brief. We also have to
work harder to get the desired eff ect, and eventually we become
exhausted and frustrated. Moreover, no matter how successful
we are in obtaining Imitation Love, we never get the feeling of
connection to other people that comes with Real Love, so we’re still
A friend of mine once had a job where she interviewed celebrities
on radio and television. She once interviewed a man who regularly
performed on stage and screen. She asked him what it was like to
be cheered and adored by so many, and he said, “It’s a great feeling,
but after the show, before I even get to the hotel in the limousine,
I already need more.” No amount of praise—or any other form of
Imitation Love—is ever enough to make us happy.
All the forms of Imitation Love become like addictive
drugs: We must have more and more, and eventually no
amount of it can give us relief from our pain.
Not only is the eff ect of praise brief, but somehow we also
sense that the praise isn’t really about us. When people praise us,
they’re usually telling us that we’ve done something to make them
feel better. When the boss praises you, is he saying that he’s happy
for you, happy that you have derived a sense of satisfaction and
accomplishment from your performance? No, he’s almost always
saying that you’ve made his job easier, and he wants you to continue
doing that for his benefifi t.
To provide another example, when a man tells a woman that
she’s beautiful, is he really talking about her? Usually, what he’s
really saying is that he enjoys the physical pleasure of looking at
her. He enjoys the praise he receives from others as he is seen with
Real Love in Dating 15
a beautiful woman. He also enjoys the excitement of fantasizing
about her, and if he persists in praising her beauty, he increases the
chance that he might score an even greater physical pleasure with
her. Without realizing it, when he says, “You are so beautiful,” he’s
really saying, “I like how you make me feel.”
When we don’t have enough Real Love, we feel empty, alone,
helpless, weak, and afraid. We get some measure of relief from
these intolerable feelings, however, when we can control the
behavior of other people. Th at sense of power feels much better
than the helplessness we often endure. As we control people—as
we convince them to agree with us, or to do what we want—we
also get a sensation of connection to them, which relieves our
In the absence of suffi cient Real Love, power can be quite
satisfying, and we get it in so many ways: with money, authority,
physical and verbal intimidation, anger, violence, and sex. Th e
following example will illustrate one common use of power.
Most young girls have little power over the people around them.
Th ey can’t control their parents, teachers, friends, or even their own
bedtimes. Without enough Real Love, this sense of helplessness
is painful. When girls get older, however, and develop sexually,
they can’t help but discover that they have gained considerable
infl uence over the boys and men around them. Sexually attractive
girls tend to receive more attention—and they get away with more
mistakes—than do girls who are less attractive. With their sexuality,
young women learn to exercise power over others, and it’s mostly
unconscious. It’s understandable that they would do this—we all
naturally use whatever form of Imitation Love that will dull the
pain of not feeling loved unconditionally.
16 Chapter Two
When we don’t feel loved unconditionally, we use physical and
emotional pleasures—sex, food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling,
driving fast, and so on—as welcome distractions, and we often
pursue them with great devotion. Th e enjoyable eff ects of pleasure,
however, are fl eeting, and they can never make us genuinely happy
in the absence of Real Love. If pleasure could produce the kind
of happiness we all want, sex addicts, for example, would be the
happiest people on the planet—but they’re not. As with all the forms
of Imitation Love, pleasure wears off , and eventually no amount of it
will give us even a brief relief from our emptiness and pain.
Without Real Love, we’re already in the worst kind of pain, and
we’ll go to great lengths to keep ourselves safe from experiencing
more pain. If we can’t have genuine acceptance, we can at least
do everything in our power to avoid more disapproval. Toward
that end, we avoid doing anything unfamiliar. We stay in the same
boring, dead-end jobs, attempt to learn nothing new, and continue
in stagnant, unrewarding—but predictable—relationships. If we’ve
been hurt consistently by all our past relationships, but fi nally we’re
with someone who simply hurts us less, we can confuse that relative
safety with love. Or we might avoid dating and relationships
FALLING IN LOVE—THE NATURE
AND EFFECT OF IMITATION LOVE
Even though Imitation Love cannot give us genuine, lasting
happiness, it does feel good, and if Real Love is either unknown to
us or unavailable, we’ll go to great lengths to get enough Imitation
Love to feel good temporarily. Again, stale cookies are better than
nothing at all. In the absence of suffi cient Real Love, we’re strongly
attracted to anyone who gives us Imitation Love, and it is therefore
the pursuit of Imitation Love that governs how most relationships
begin and end.
Real Love in Dating 17
We’ve all observed that if we give enough praise, power, pleasure,
and safety to another person, he or she will be more likely to return
some of the same to us. In order to get the Imitation Love that
can feel so good, therefore, we buy it from others with whatever
forms of Imitation Love we have to off er. We trade Imitation Love
with those around us. If I praise you enough, for example, you
will be more likely to say something kind to me in return, or to do
something else I want.
Without thinking about it, almost all of us tend to establish
relationships based on the trading of Imitation Love. Let’s arbitrarily
measure Imitation Love in dollars, and we’ll suppose that when you
give a dollar of Imitation Love to someone, that person gives you
twenty cents in return. To a second person you also give a dollar,
but this time you receive fi fty cents in return. Without being
aware of the reason, you naturally prefer the company of the
person who gives you a fi fty percent return on your investment—
it’s that better rate of return that determines why we “like” some
people more than others.
Eventually, you give a dollar’s worth of Imitation Love to
someone who gives you a full dollar in return. Excited about this
dramatic improvement in the return on your investment, you
give him or her two dollars, then three, then more, and to your
delight, you are rewarded equally each time. Th is is so exciting
that you are now “in love.”
Falling in love is rarely anything more than the relatively
equal and abundant exchange of Imitation Love. Th at may not
be romantic, but it’s nonetheless true. When a guy sees a girl
across a crowded room and says to his friends, “I think I’m in
love,” is there anyone on the planet who believes that his true
meaning is, “I’ve fallen into a sudden unconditional concern for
her happiness”? No, he’s expressing a belief that he’ll get more
Imitation Love from her than he would from anyone else he
can think of. We tend to start our relationships on the basis of
how much Imitation Love we anticipate we’ll receive from that
partner, and that’s a disastrous foundation for a relationship. We
18 Chapter Two
can see the eff ects of Imitation Love in the following account of
the relationship between Michael and Susan.
Falling in love is rarely anything more than the
relatively equal and abundant exchange of Imitation
Love—a formula for disaster.
Michael had said complimentary things to other people all
his life, but when he gave them a dollar’s worth of praise, he
rarely got a dollar of praise, power, pleasure, or safety in return.
Th en he met Susan. When he gave her a dollar of praise—verbal
and non-verbal—she immediately responded by accepting him
(praise), expressing a willingness to do what he wanted (power),
and physically touching him (pleasure)—at least a dollar’s worth
all together. So he gave her even more Imitation Love—the best
he had to off er—and when she responded generously, he was so
thrilled with the exchange that he called the feeling “falling in
Susan was attracted to Michael because he was good-looking,
funny, smart, and kind to her, and because he had a good job—all
of which gave her a sense of praise, pleasure, and safety. Th ey fell
in love because the exchange of Imitation Love was abundant and
Susan and Michael began their relationship because they
found in their partner the qualities that would entertain them,
make them feel worthwhile, and give them safety, not because they
unconditionally loved one another. Most of us pick our partners for
the same reasons—we look for someone who has qualities that will
temporarily make us feel good, and in return we’re quite willing to
do the same for that person.
As I’ve said before, however, the eff ect of Imitation Love always
fades, as Michael and Susan discovered. Th ey really enjoyed the
Real Love in Dating 19
initial exchange of Imitation Love, but it wasn’t long before that
level of praise, power, and pleasure wasn’t as rewarding as it once
had been. When people say the “excitement has worn off ” in a
relationship, they’re just describing the fl eeting eff ects of Imitation
Love. As we experience less “happiness” with Imitation Love, we
naturally turn to the people closest to us to supply what we’re
missing, and understandably our partners feel resentful of our
increased demands. Most of our relationships begin based on an
unspoken understanding of how much Imitation Love our partners
will give us, and how much we’ll give them in return, and when
we change the rules—when we give less or demand more—our
partners don’t like that one bit.
As couples discover the transient eff ect of Imitation Love, they
also invariably fi nd that the exchange of Imitation Love becomes
unfair. We can roughly quantify the trading—and fading—of
Imitation Love over the course of Michael and Susan’s relationship.
In the beginning, they exchanged Imitation Love as summarized
Type of Imitation Love (in dollars) Received by
Imitation Love Michael Susan
Praise 5 5
Power 5 5
Pleasure 6 2
Safety 1 5
Total Imitation Love 17 17
In the beginning of their relationship, they both received fi ve
dollars of praise as each of them complimented the other for a
variety of qualities, including sexual desirability. Th ey were equally
successful in getting the other to do the things they wanted (fi ve
dollars of power each). Michael got more physical pleasure from
the relationship (mostly from sex) than Susan (six dollars versus
20 Chapter Two
two), but Susan got a greater sense of security (safety) from the
relationship than Michael did (fi ve dollars versus one). Because
they experienced more Imitation Love from one another than
with anyone else they had known, they were in love. After several
months, however, the trading had changed:
Type of Imitation Love (in dollars) Received by
Imitation Love Michael Susan
Praise 1 1
Power 3 1
Pleasure 4 1
Safety 0 1
Total Imitation Love 8 4
Th ey both discovered that the eff ects of fl attery had quickly
worn off , and that constantly earning it was exhausting, so neither
of them was willing to continue their initial eff orts to praise one
another (down from fi ve dollars to a dollar apiece). Susan discovered
she could hardly get Michael to do anything she wanted (one
dollar of power vs. the fi ve dollars she got in the beginning of their
relationship), so she tended to reward him with nagging instead
of praise. Without suffi cient praise and appreciation, Michael had
even less motivation to keep doing what Susan wanted. Susan,
however, still did errands and other acts of kindness for Michael,
so he got three dollars of power from getting her to do what he
wanted (compared to the fi ve dollars he once got). He still got
four dollars of pleasure from the relationship (mostly from sex),
while she got only one dollar (virtually nothing from sex but some
from other forms of entertainment they enjoyed together). Susan’s
sense of safety had been reduced to a single dollar, because he often
criticized her (attacking) and because she wasn’t sure of his fi delity
when he looked at other women. Michael felt no safety at all as
Susan nagged him about everything.
What a miserable state of aff airs. When they fi rst met, what
Michael and Susan both needed was Real Love, but neither of
Real Love in Dating 21
them had ever felt much unconditional love, so there was no way
they could have loved one another as they needed. We simply
can’t give what we don’t have. In the absence of Real Love, they
off ered one another what they did have—Imitation Love in its
various forms—and they gave all they had. Imitation Love does
feel good, and because they were both giving it with all their hearts,
they were satisfi ed with their relationship in the beginning. When
the eff ects wore off , however, and they each gave one another less
of the various forms of Imitation Love, they felt like the rules of
exchange had been violated. Th ey were both faced with the horror
that they were not going to get the happiness they’d hoped for all
Relationships fail not because either partner did
anything wrong, but because both of them came to the
relationship without enough of the one thing—Real
Love—essential to individual happiness and healthy
relationships. Th ey based their relationship on a
counterfeit currency—Imitation Love—that cannot buy
Later in their relationship, Susan experienced more
disappointment than Michael did. Not only was she disillusioned
with the decline in her overall happiness (four dollars of Imitation
Love versus seventeen in the beginning), but she sensed that their
relationship was unfair (four dollars for her versus eight for Michael).
It’s common for one partner to believe the relationship is worse
than the other partner does, because although both partners are
far from genuinely happy, one of them—in this case, Michael—is
getting more Imitation Love than the other. In addition, although
Michael wasn’t ecstatic about their relationship, he was relatively
satisfi ed, because even though his total was down from seventeen
dollars to eight, it was still better than what he enjoyed before
fi nding Susan.
22 Chapter Two
Sex as a form of Imitation Love deserves special attention, and
I’ll be addressing that subject in Chapter Seven.
THE REAL REASON RELATIONSHIPS FAIL
I have counseled with thousands of couples, most of them married.
Remember that people usually get married only after they have
sifted through many potential partners, fi nally choosing the one
they believe will provide them with the fulfi llment of their dreams.
Ideally, marriages should be the cream of all relationships, the best
of the best.
And yet 60% of those dream relationships end in divorce,
and the vast majority of those who remain married are settling
for far less than they had once hoped for. When troubled couples
come to me for counseling, invariably they ask some variation
on the question, “What happened?” Both partners are absolutely
befuddled, wondering how they could possibly have moved from
being soulmates to being combatants.
In their attempts to understand what happened, it’s unavoidable
that each partner would blame the other. After all, they reason, their
partner once “made them happy,” and now that happiness is gone.
Th e inescapable conclusion is that their partner has somehow failed
them, somehow withdrawn the joy they once magically dispensed
at the beginning of the relationship.
After reading the fi rst two chapters of this book, however,
you now understand the real reason relationships fail. When two
people enter into a relationship without suffi cient Real Love,
their relationship is virtually doomed from the beginning. Most
relationships are guaranteed to fail from the word “Hello”—no
matter how wonderfully they get along in the beginning—because
both parties lack the one ingredient most essential to genuine
happiness and fulfi lling relationships. In the beginning of their
association they achieve the illusion of happiness only because they
give one another enough Imitation Love. It’s better than anything
Real Love in Dating 23
they’ve had before, so it seems real. Th en, when the eff ects of
Imitation Love begin to wear off —as they always do—they’re left
with the horrifying realization that their dreams have turned into
so much dust.
Relationships fail not because of what each partner does or
does not do. Relationships fail because they are not built on a
foundation of Real Love, but instead are based on a counterfeit
currency—Imitation Love—that can never buy happiness.
“I LOVE YOU BECAUSE . . .”
When someone says, “I love you because . . .” that person really
commands our attention. We’re eager to hear what follows: “. . .
because you’re smart, beautiful, handsome, responsible, clever, witty,
whatever.” We absolutely adore hearing these fl attering descriptions
of ourselves. What we don’t realize is that these seductive words
also constitute the seeds of destruction in our relationships.
When someone tells you why he or she loves you, that person
is describing the qualities you must have in order for him or her
to continue loving you. You’re now obligated to continue fifi lling the
expectations of that person.
When we don’t have enough Real Love, we’re eager to fi ll our
emptiness with Imitation Love, and when we fi nd someone who
gives us an adequate supply, we’re naturally drawn to that source.
We must understand that when we say, “I love you,” what we
usually mean is, “I need you.” When we don’t feel unconditionally
loved, and we tell someone we love him or her, we’re expressing
only a selfi sh wish for that person to keep making us feel good.
When we say, “I love you,” however, our partner hears us promise
that we’ll make him or her happy. ThTh ese conflfl icting expectations
cause the failure of most relationships.
When I discuss this subject in seminars, someone often asks,
“So you’re saying that if we had suffi cient Real Love in our lives,
24 Chapter Two
we could love everyone?” When I reply in the affi rmative, he or she
continues, “But you’re not saying that we should date or marry just
anyone, are you? Isn’t it all right that we look for certain qualities
we like in a future spouse, for example? Isn’t it all right to want to
marry someone because they possess certain qualities I like? ThTh at’s
not necessarily selfi sh, is it?”
As we fi nd suffi cient Real Love in our lives—we’ll discuss how
to do that in Chapter Four—our emptiness and fear disappear.
Th en we’re no longer driven by what we need from people, or by
what we fear from them, and in that condition we then gain the
ability to accept all people and care about their happiness without
their doing anything for us—the defi nition of Real Love. Th at does
not mean, however, that we won’t fi nd some people more enjoyable
to be around. We’ll discuss that subject in greater detail in Chapter
THE REPEATING PATTERN
Our pursuit of Imitation Love explains not only how relationships
begin and end but also how we tend to attract the same kind of
partner over and over. How many times have you known someone
who has broken up with a partner, and then, only a few weeks
or months later, he or she has found the same partner but with
a diff erent name and face? Somehow we seem to fi nd the same
personality type over and over, as though we were magnets for that
particular kind of person. Why do we keep repeating these same
patterns of attraction and failure?
Without enough Real Love, we’re desperately looking for those
people who will give us a “good deal” in the exchange of Imitation
Love. It’s as though we have a fl ashing billboard on our foreheads,
which states, “Looking to trade.” We advertise to potential partners
that we’re willing to give Imitation Love in exchange for receiving it.
Over a lifetime, we have also learned to off er a certain
combination of the diff erent forms of Imitation Love. We’ve all
Real Love in Dating 25
noticed, for example, that some of us are more likely to off er
fl attery to attract people, while others of us tend to off er power or
pleasure. When we fi nd someone who is attracted to our particular
combination—say, for the sake of example, fi ve parts praise, four
parts power, two parts pleasure, and three parts safety—and when
we in turn like the combination he or she off ers us, everything “just
clicks,” and we’re certain we’ve found the love of our life.
When everything “just clicks,” however, it almost always
means that we’ve just found a great exchange of Imitation Love,
and that will never make us happy. Th e initial excitement, though,
is enormously seductive, and we tend to fall for it over and over.
Until we recognize what’s happening, we’re doomed to repeat this
We keep repeating the same unproductive behaviors
in relationships because we keep bringing the same
person—ourselves—to each relationship. Until we learn
to stop looking for Imitation Love, we will repeat our
unhappy results over and over.
As you come to understand Imitation Love, you may feel some sense
of discouragement. You might think, “I can’t believe it. I’ve wasted
my whole life trying to fi nd happiness with Imitation Love.”
You’re not alone. Most of us have unwittingly placed our faith
in the utterly futile pursuit of the happiness that Imitation Love
can never produce. Once we recognize this pattern, however, we
can begin to take the steps that will lead to the Real Love, genuine
happiness, and great relationships we’ve always wanted.
26 Chapter Two
I once knew a woman who had a large house you simply would
not believe. All the garbage she had generated over the years—
old papers, empty food cans, rotten produce, car tires—had been
tossed into the rooms she wasn’t using. Eventually the fl oors
literally bowed with the weight of more garbage than I’d ever seen
outside a regional landfi ll. Cockroaches were everywhere, and the
only reason she wasn’t overrun by rats was that she had thirty cats
in the house. Th e cats generated their own waste, of course, and
the combination of all that refuse created a stench that I would not
have thought possible in a human dwelling.
A group of friends decided to help this woman out of her
predicament. With her permission, they arranged for the sale of
property on which the home sat—the home itself was bulldozed
and burned—and helped her fi nd a smaller, more manageable
apartment. Th ey were so proud of themselves, that they had helped
her fi nd a more pleasant environment in which to live. Within a
year, however, her small apartment looked almost exactly the same
as her old home had. She had fi lled the place with garbage, and the
stench of cat waste was overpowering.
Although these people had good intentions, they failed to
consider that despite changing the woman’s location, she herself
had not changed, so the cause of the mess remained.
Most of us move from partner to partner, hoping that the next
one will provide us the happiness we’re looking for. If we bring to
each relationship, however, the same inadequate tools—specifi cally
a lack of Real Love—and a belief that Imitation love will bring
us happiness, we will keep experiencing the same disappointing
results, just as the woman who created a garbage dump wherever
We must recognize our dependence on Imitation Love. Once
we do that, we can begin to take the steps to fi nd the Real Love we
We hope you have enjoyed these excerpts from Real
Love in Dating. We can confidently promise that as
you learn and apply these principles you will begin
to experience a level of happiness that you never
thought possible. We encourage you to continue in love
THE NINE PRINCIPLES OF
The First Principle
More than anything else, my child needs to feel loved
The Second Principle
When my child behaves badly, he or she doesn’t feel loved
The Third Principle
When I’m angry, I’m wrong
The Fourth Principle
I can’t give what I don’t have:
I must find Real Love for myself
The Fifth Principle
My child needs to be loved and taught
The Sixth Principle
After my child has been loved and taught,
he or she needs to be loved and taught again
The Seventh Principle
The Law of Choice
The Eighth Principle
Happiness comes from being loving
The Ninth Principle
Happiness comes from being responsible
THE THIRD PRINCIPLE OF PARENTING
When I’m Angry, I’m Wrong
Because of their age and inexperience, children are naturally
inconvenient in so many ways:
• They’re always spilling stuff, falling down, making messes,
and getting involved in all manner of “accidents.”
• When they get ready for school, clean their rooms, prepare
for bed time, or do anything else involving a time limit, they
move at a slow and erratic pace rarely compatible with our
• They’re often unable to perform even the simplest tasks
without help or supervision.
• They incessantly make unnecessary noises in a wide range of
both volume and pitch.
• Frequently they are unable to clearly communicate their
• When they do express their needs, they are often insistent and
demanding. They have no patience.
• Everything they do seems to cost money.
418 Chapter Three
When we don’t feel sufficiently loved ourselves, these
innumerable inconveniences often become more than we can
stand—the straw that breaks the camel’s back—and then we
understandably respond with behaviors designed to minimize the
effects of these inconveniences on us. We’ve learned from a lifetime
of experiences as children and as adults that one effective way to
get children to listen, and to change their behavior, is to get angry
at them. When we’re angry, children—as well as adults—tend to do
what we want, and they tend to do it more quickly.
THE EFFECTS OF ANGER
Although our children often respond to our anger in the short term by
doing what we want, the overall effects of anger are overwhelmingly
negative. When we’re angry:
• our children cannot feel loved by us.
• because they don’t feel loved, they respond with even more
Getting and Protecting Behaviors, the very behaviors we
were trying to stop in the first place with our anger.
• they can’t learn.
• we can’t be happy.
• we teach our children the lie that other people make us
Our Children Can’t Feel Loved by Us
On one occasion in Chapter One, I lovingly described to you the
mistakes you made while planting some bushes in my yard. Even
though I was talking about your mistakes—a potentially negative
subject—you could feel my concern for your happiness. In the
scenario that followed, however, I was disappointed and irritated
at you, and the effect on you was quite different. Why? When I’m
angry at you, I’m saying, “How dare you inconvenience the true
center of the universe—ME. You have somehow failed to remember
that your purpose in life is to serve ME, or you have done something
unpleasant to ME.” We could, in fact, replace the word angry with
ME-ME-ME. Anger is the ultimate arrogance.
Imagine, then, that I’m standing over you in anger, with my
words and behavior shouting ME-ME-ME. While I’m completely
Real Love in Parenting 419
focusing on myself in that way, is there any way in the world that
you could feel my unconditional concern for your welfare? Utterly
impossible. This is such an important concept that I suggest you
indelibly etch the following in your memory:
Every time you are angry at another human being—husband,
wife, lover, friend, parent, boss, co-worker, or child—that
person hears you say only four words: “I don’t love you.”
If you have any doubt about the truth of this, blow up at anyone
you know—especially a child—and watch his or her face. When
we’re angry at our children, we’re powerfully telling them that we
do not love them unconditionally—at least in that moment—and
they feel that. We may not be trying to say “I don’t love you,” but
when we’re angry, we’re just too consumed with our own needs and
fears to be capable of loving anyone else.
There is nothing children hate to hear more than “I don’t love
you,” and that’s why they are so easily motivated by our anger.
They’re willing to do whatever it takes to get us to stop being
angry—to stop expressing our lack of love.
Anger Can Literally Define the World
For a Child—in a Very Negative Way
The cost of anger is especially high when we express it to our
children. Young children don’t create out of thin air the view they
have of themselves or of the world. They learn who they are, what
the world is like, and how they relate to the world mostly from
what we say and do as their parents. Early in their lives, they accept
completely what we tell them, and so we have a virtually god-like
influence over them. When a child makes mistakes, for example,
and we become impatient and irritated, the child learns this:
• When I make mistakes, my parents obviously love me less.
• When I am flawed, I am therefore less worthwhile.
• Since I am flawed most of the time, I am obviously worth
• The world is a harsh, judgmental, and unloving place.
I cannot over-emphasize the destructive impact of these lessons
420 Chapter Three
on a child. A young child is quite incapable of questioning these
conclusions when they are taught by a parent, who stands in a
position of unquestioned power. When you are angry at a child,
there is no way on earth that he or she could have the courage or
insight to say, “Dad (or Mom), I see that you’re angry. You must be
feeling unloved. Even though you’re expressing your anger at me,
I know you’re just reacting to a lifetime of not feeling loved, not
primarily to something I did or did not do in this moment. Is there
something I can do to help you feel more loved?” Absurd. No, a
child can conclude only that your anger is all about him or her, and
the effect is disastrous, as outlined above.
They Respond with Even More
Getting and Protecting Behaviors
It’s hugely ironic that when we get angry at our children, we cause
the very behaviors we’re trying to control or eliminate. Here’s how
• All the behaviors in children that inconvenience and annoy
us—disobedience, rebellion, whining, insistence, sullenness,
withdrawal, and so on—are only Getting and Protecting
Behaviors that exist in response to their not feeling loved
• When we don’t feel unconditionally loved either, the
behaviors of our children then make us feel even more empty
• To alleviate these painful feelings, we get angry, which gives
us a sense of power and safety.
• From our anger, our children hear only “I don’t love you,”
which greatly magnifies their feelings of emptiness and fear.
• They respond by using even more Getting and Protecting
Behaviors, exactly what we were trying to prevent.
Children will do almost anything—they use all the Protecting
Behaviors—to avoid any expression of our disapproval: a sigh, a
frown, a raised eyebrow, a change in our tone of voice, or an unkind
word. To our children, disappointment and anger are different only
in degree, and both are devastating.
Real Love in Parenting 421
They Can’t Learn
One beautiful fall day, George came to see me about his son, Dan. He
was quite animated and irritated as he told me about Dan’s negative
attitude, disobedience, and lack of responsibility. “Only yesterday,”
George said, “I was trying to talk to him about something, and he
just sat there, giving me that sullen stare. It’s like he doesn’t hear a
word I say.”
“He can’t,” I responded.
“What do you mean?”
“When you’re angry, he can’t hear anything you’re saying.”
“I wasn’t angry. I was just being firm. He doesn’t listen unless
I’m firm with him.”
“It doesn’t sound like he listens to you when you’re ‘firm,’
either, but you were more than firm. You were angry.”
“How do you know that? You weren’t there.”
“I didn’t have to be. I’m here with you now, and you’ve been
angry at Dan from the moment you started talking about him.
You’re also angry at me for questioning what you did—which
doesn’t bother me in the least. I’m only describing what I see so
that you can see it. You’ve already proven that the way you talk to
Dan doesn’t work, and because I care about you, I’m helping you
see why he can’t hear you. Considering all the anger you’re showing
here, it’s utterly impossible to believe that you were not angry with
Dan when you talked to him. If I spoke to you in the same tone of
voice you used with Dan yesterday, would you think I was angry?”
“Okay, I get the point. So I might have been a little irritated at
“Let’s assume for a moment that I’m your employer. I supervise
you, sign your paycheck, and have the authority to fire you. Can you
“Now, suppose I come to you and describe a mistake you made at
work yesterday. I tell you that it’ll cost the company a couple hundred
dollars to fix the mistake, and two other employees will have to work
overtime to correct it. But you can see that I’m not the least bit irritated
by any of this. In fact, I apologize that I didn’t give you enough
information to do the assignment correctly in the first place, and then
I describe how you could do the task in a way that will be easier and
more productive. Would you be willing to do it the new way?”
422 Chapter Three
“How do you feel about me describing your mistake?”
“Fine. You’re just trying to help me.”
“Now imagine that I come to your office and throw a pile of
papers on your desk. I say that what you’ve done is completely
unacceptable, and I yell at you as I describe what a bumbling fool
you are. Do you feel different about our conversation this time?”
“What’s the difference?”
“It’s hard to listen to you when you’re yelling at me.”
“It just is,” he said.
“The first time I talked to you, it was easy to hear me, because—
in your words—I was just trying to help you, right?”
“What was different about the second time was that I was angry
at you. We rarely appreciate what our anger means. I can describe
your mistake and still have a genuine concern for your happiness, as
you discovered when I talked to you the first time. But the moment I
become angry, I’m telling you my primary concern is for whom?”
“Exactly. Every single time I’m angry, I’m mainly concerned
about what I want, which means I can’t possibly be concerned
primarily about you. Every time I’m angry, I’m telling you I don’t
care about you—which is the one thing we all hate to hear more
than anything else—and then you will react to that, instead of
listening to my correction of your mistake. You’ll defend yourself
by withdrawing from me, or being angry at me, or acting like a
victim, and so on. While I’m angry, you can’t really listen to me,
because all you can hear is my telling you I don’t care about you.”
“I never saw it that way before.”
“Most people don’t, but you have to understand this before
you can change the way you interact with Dan. Every time you’re
angry at him, I promise you he hears you speaking only four words:
I don’t love you. Once he hears that, essentially he becomes deaf
to everything else you’re saying. You’ve been wondering why he
doesn’t listen to you, and this is the answer: your anger.”
“But I’m not always angry when I talk to him,” George
Real Love in Parenting 423
“That’s probably true,” I agreed. “Let’s go back to the example
of my being your boss. Suppose that I blow up at you only half the
times we speak. During the other half of the times we talk, what will
be going through your mind? Will you feel relaxed?”
Whenever we’re angry at our children, they hear us say only
four words: “I don’t love you.” And then they respond with
the Getting and Protecting Behaviors that are so destructive
to them and to others.
“No, I’ll be waiting for you to blow up. I’ll never be sure when
you’re about to get mad at me.”
“Right, and that’s how Dan feels. Also remember that if you
want to estimate how much of the time you’re not mad at him, you
can count only the times he’s making mistakes—when he’s screwing
up. If you treat him nicely while he’s doing what you want, that
doesn’t count for much, frankly. On those occasions, he can feel
only like he’s buying your affection. It’s only when he’s making
mistakes that he can feel whether you love him unconditionally—or
you don’t. If I had to guess, I’d bet you get angry at him a lot more
than half the times he makes mistakes, and that leaves him with only
one conclusion: that you don’t love him. That has a huge impact on
him. He’s constantly waiting for the next blowup from you.”
Most of us have said to our children on many occasions, “How
many times have I told you to _____? Why do I have to keep
repeating myself?” If our children had the insight and courage, they
would answer, “You have to keep repeating yourself because each
time you teach me that principle, you’re angry, and I can’t hear you
when you’re angry. If you would speak to me with any concern for
my welfare, I could probably hear you.”
We Can’t Be Happy
Think about the last time you snapped at a child. Did you feel a
growth of your inner peace? Did you feel warm and fuzzy inside?
Never. Not only does our anger have a negative effect on others, but
it eliminates the possibility of happiness in our own lives.
Genuine happiness comes from feeling unconditionally loved
and from loving others. Because anger always interferes with our
feeling loved and loving others, it makes happiness impossible.
424 Chapter Three
We Teach Our Children the Lie
That Other People Make Us Angry
Every time we express anger at our children, we’re strongly
implying that they made us angry. We make it quite clear—with our
words, sighs, rolling eyes, tone of voice, and so on—that they are
responsible for how we feel. In order to remove all doubt about that,
in fact, we often say, “You make me so mad.”
In so doing, we are teaching our children a terrible lie, that other
people can make us angry. This lie has enslaved most of us all our
lives, as illustrated in the following story.
One day I heard two of my children, Joseph and Rachel,
quarreling in the next room. Walking into that room, I said to
Joseph—randomly choosing one of them—“You look pretty mad.”
“Yeah,” he said, “who wouldn’t be? She borrowed my shirt
again, and she didn’t put it back. So I had to look all over the house
for it until I figured out that she had it.”
“So she made you angry, right?”
“Yes,” he said emphatically, and surprised that I would question
such an obvious conclusion.
“So let’s do this,” I suggested. “Let’s go down to the hardware
store, get a large brass ring, and fasten it through the hole we’ll drill
through your nose. Then we’ll attach a big chain to the ring and
hand it to Rachel.”
“What?” he said, obviously confused.
“You wouldn’t like being Rachel’s slave?”
“But you already are her slave, Joseph. Any time she wants to,
she can do something to make you mad. So, effectively, she owns
you. Do you want to keep being her slave?”
In our society, it is almost universally accepted that other
people make us angry, and we pass this belief on to our children.
Regrettably, this belief makes our children captive to the behavior of
every person around them, which is far from a desirable condition.
Later in this chapter, we’ll prove that other people never make
us angry, and in Chapters Six and Eight we’ll discuss how to handle
arguments between our children.
Real Love in Parenting 425
BECAUSE OF ITS CONSISTENTLY DESTRUCTIVE
EFFECTS, ANGER IS ALWAYS WRONG
In Chapter One, I said:
Since happiness is the central goal of life, a behavior is right
when it contributes to that goal—in other words, when it leads
to being unconditionally loved, loving, and responsible. Any
behavior which interferes with those conditions is therefore
Because anger always interferes with our feeling unconditionally
loved, loving, and happy, anger is always wrong. I am not saying that
when you’re angry, you’re evil, nor am I saying that you shouldn’t
be angry—in a given moment, anger may be the best you can do. I
am saying that because anger detracts from our primary purpose for
being alive—because it is uniformly destructive, and keeps us from
being happy—it is wrong. It just doesn’t work. Anger is wrong in
the same sense that saying 2 + 2 = 5 is wrong, or that when you get
a flat tire on your car, replacing the tire with a kitchen sink would be
We also established in Chapter One that our primary goals are
to love our children and teach them to love others. In the presence of
anger, our children cannot feel loved by us, and so, for yet another
reason, anger is wrong. When we’re angry, we cannot be loving,
Take a moment and tattoo these words on the inside of your right
upper eyelid, where you’ll always remember them: When I’m angry,
I’m wrong. Everything else we give our children—entertainment,
money, a great house, the best education, and so on—will not make
them happy if they don’t feel unconditionally loved by us, and they
cannot feel loved when we’re angry at them.
Because anger always interferes with our greatest purposes
in life—to feel loved, to be loving, and to be happy—anger
is always wrong.
You might be tempted to think, “But what am I supposed to do
426 Chapter Three
when they misbehave? I have to correct them, don’t I? Sometimes
they only pay attention when I’m mad. When I speak calmly, they
just ignore me. Sometimes I have to get angry, for their own good—
so they’ll listen.”
That reasoning is seductive, but we must never forget that when
we’re angry, our children don’t feel loved, and Real Love is the
most important gift we’ll ever give them. When we’re angry, we’re
wrong. Period. It’s true that when we get angry, they do sometimes
move more quickly and accomplish the individual tasks we demand
of them, but the long-term effects are devastating:
• First, if they consistently respond to our anger with obedience,
we’ll have children with clean rooms and good grades but
who—without Real Love, the one element most important to
genuine happiness—will be deeply unfulfilled and miserable
in the long term.
• A second outcome, however, is even more likely. Eventually,
most children resent the constant whip of anger as a motivation,
and then they quit responding to it with fear and compliance.
Instead, they protect themselves by withdrawing, acting like
victims, and getting angry in return, as George’s son, Dan,
Anger is always wrong, and it’s never effective in the long
term. That does not mean we should be permissive, which is an
equally terrible mistake in parenting. Throughout the book, we’ll
be discussing the most effective ways we can teach and love our
children, avoiding both anger and indulgence.
WHY WE GET ANGRY
If anger is so destructive—to us personally, to our children, and to
our relationships with them—why do we continue to get angry?
Why do we continue to use a behavior that never gives us the results
we really want? We continue to get angry at our children because:
• we’re empty and afraid ourselves.
• our children don’t fill our enormous expectations for their
• anger is a response we’ve learned from our parents and others
throughout our lives.
Real Love in Parenting 427
We’re Empty and Afraid
As we described in Chapter Two, anger is a Getting and Protecting
Behavior. We get angry only to fill our emptiness and to protect
ourselves from fear, conditions that exist because we do not have
sufficient Real Love. Anger is absolute proof that we are empty and
When we’re already empty and afraid from not feeling enough
Real Love, we become much more afraid when confronted with
angry or disobedient children. What are we afraid of?
• We’re afraid of losing control over them. Without sufficient
Real Love, we enjoy the sense of power we get from
influencing or determining what our children do. That’s not
a pretty thing to see about ourselves, but it’s still true. When
they behave badly, we feel helpless and weak.
• We’re afraid of losing their respect (another form of power,
and also praise).
• We’re afraid of losing their approval and affection (praise).
• We’re afraid of looking like bad parents—to our children and
others (loss of praise).
• We’re afraid of losing the peace and quiet we enjoy (pleasure
and safety). We hate the simple inconvenience that always
accompanies an angry child—we have to deal with his or her
anger, which usually isn’t easy or fun.
In other words, when children are angry we’re afraid of losing
the Imitation Love we get from them, a “love” we have no right to
demand. And then we respond with our own Getting and Protecting
Behaviors, one of which is anger. With anger we feel better in
• We feel stronger, more in control, less helpless.
• We often succeed in commanding their respect.
• If we consistently manipulate our children to do what we
want, we feel competent (praiseworthy).
• We create the illusion of being disciplined and strong parents,
earning the praise of other parents.
• We achieve the peace and quiet we crave (pleasure and safety).
428 Chapter Three
Of course, all these effects are superficial and transient—as are
the effects of all forms of Imitation Love—and when they wear off,
we have to work to get them again. No amount of Imitation Love
can ever make us truly happy.
They Fail to Fill Our Expectations for Love
Another explanation for our anger is the expectations we have of others.
If we don’t feel sufficient Real Love—as most of us don’t—we’re
empty and afraid, a condition we cannot tolerate. It’s only natural that
we then expect the people around us to soothe our pain and fill our
emptiness, and when they don’t, we can become quite irritated. How,
we reason, could other people—especially those close to us—just stand
by and fail to relieve our obvious discomfort? Without meaning to, we
heap some of these expectations for love—Real and Imitation—on
our children, and when they don’t fill them, we resent it.
Anger is always preceded by an expectation of some kind. We
get angry at people only when they fail to fulfill our expectations.
You never become angry at your neighbor, for example, for not
taking out your garbage, while it’s easy to conceive of getting angry
at your son or daughter for not doing the same task. The difference?
Expectations. You don’t expect your neighbor to take out your
garbage, so when he doesn’t do it, there’s no disappointment or
We get angry at our children because we have expectations of
them. What do we expect?
• Obedience (power, safety)
• Gratitude (praise)
• Respect (praise, power, safety)
• Cooperation (power, safety)
• Affection (praise)
Certainly these are qualities children need to have if they want
to be happy, but rarely do we insist on these qualities in our children
solely for their benefit. When we don’t have enough Real Love in
our own lives, we demand obedience, for example, to feed our own
need for praise, power, and safety. We need gratitude to confirm our
own worth (praise). We demand respect to confirm our position of
power over our children.
Real Love in Parenting 429
The Powerful Need for Our Children’s Love
On many occasions, I have asked adults, “Does anyone love you
unconditionally?” and a common answer is this: “Yes, my children
do.” That belief, however, is almost always inaccurate, inappropriate,
and dangerous. Our children are not responsible for loving us, and
with rare exceptions they’re also incapable of doing so.
Most of us place considerable responsibility on our children to
make us feel good. We prove this every time we’re disappointed in
them or angry at them, because on these occasions we’re declaring
that they are responsible for our happiness or unhappiness—and
we’re mostly unaware of how often we do that.
Our happiness is not determined by the behavior of our children.
Our happiness is a result of how much unconditional love we’ve
received over a lifetime of experiences with parents, teachers,
friends, and spouses—and by how loving we are toward others.
Most of us, however, were not unconditionally loved, and without
Real Love we have become unhappy as adults and parents.
But now it is not our children’s responsibility to give us the Real
Love we need. Children need to be loved by us. They need to be
filled up with the unconditional love required for their happiness.
Children become whole only when love is initially a one-way
flow, from us to them. That can’t happen while we’re demanding
something from them in return.
Our Children Can’t Love Us Unconditionally
We want to believe that our children love us unconditionally, but if
they haven’t received enough Real Love from us—as few of them
have—how can they give it to anyone else? In most cases, when
we expect love from our children, we’re asking them to give us
what they’ve never received sufficiently themselves. Their task is
impossible, and the burden is crushing.
Love can be unconditional only when it’s freely given. The
giver of unconditional love can’t be empty or afraid. When people
are empty or afraid, they can only manipulate other people to get
what they want or protect themselves from being hurt. Almost
without exception, our children are both empty and afraid: They
430 Chapter Three
badly need us to love them, and they’re scared to death of losing our
love. These are natural conditions for a child, but they make it very
difficult for children to give us Real Love.
We tend to love our children more when they’re good—when
they do what we want. They can feel that our approval is not
unconditional, but it feels better than nothing, so they do their best—
in the beginning, at least—to earn more of it by giving us what we
want: gratitude, respect, obedience, affection, and so on. We feel
good when we get those things, and understandably we then believe
that our children are “loving” us. But they need our approval and
love far too much to give us anything without expecting something
in return. They give us what we want so we’ll give them the “love”
they desperately need. Although it’s unconscious, our children trade
Imitation Love with us, and we gladly participate in the exchange,
all of us just doing our best to survive in the absence of Real Love.
Is it ever possible for a child to unconditionally love his parents?
Yes, but only after that child has been consistently and unconditionally
loved himself for a long time. Few children have been loved in that
way, and no loving parent would expect such love from a child. When
a child can love his or her parents, it’s just a delightful bonus for those
parents, not something they have a right to expect.
How We Manipulate Them for Imitation Love
If we don’t have enough Real Love in our own lives, we will make
attempts to get Imitation Love from the people around us, and we
will tend to do that most with the people who are closest to us. Later
in this chapter we’ll talk about the various ways we manipulate our
children for Imitation Love.
Failure to See the Expectations We Have of Our Children
Most of us have expectations every day that our children will love
us and make us happy. Often we express them in subtle ways.
We don’t say to a child directly, for example, “I need you to love
me.” Instead we say, “Give Mommy (or Daddy) a kiss.” Without
thinking about it, we thus place an enormous burden on children
to give us affection so we won’t be disappointed, and they feel that
obligation. As they sense that we have any expectations for them to
make us happy, they can’t feel unconditionally loved—even if our
expectations are unconscious.
Real Love in Parenting 431
How can we know whether we have selfish expectations of our
children? Again, disappointment and anger. These feelings mean
that we didn’t get something we wanted. Our disappointment and
anger prove that we’re being selfish, and we experience these
feelings in response to the behavior of our children so often that
we’ve come to accept them as normal. We justify ourselves,
claiming that disappointment is acceptable—even unavoidable—
when a child makes certain kinds of mistakes, or is disobedient, or
is disrespectful, and so on. When our children behave badly, it is
our responsibility to correct them, but disappointment and anger are
never a part of loving and effective teaching.
I’m not saying that children shouldn’t be respectful, obedient,
and grateful—far from it. They need these qualities in order to be
happy, but they acquire these characteristics far more easily when
we just love and teach them. Children don’t learn real respect—and
certainly don’t feel Real Love—when we expect and demand it
from them. We’ll talk more about how to love and teach children in
Chapters Five and Six.
We become angry at our children when they don’t fill our
huge expectations for them to love us. Those expectations
are inappropriate and harmful.
Why We Have Children
Without Real Love, we try to fill our emptiness with all the praise,
power, and pleasure we can find. We lie, attack, act like victims, and
cling in order to earn the attention of other adults, but we soon find
those efforts exhausting, and we discover that the Imitation Love
we get is unpredictable. Because children are so dependent on us—
because they desperately need us, and because they feel obligated
to us by all we give them—we learn that we can use them more
easily and consistently than other people as a source of Imitation
Love. Adults resist our manipulations and require more from us
than children do. And we feel safer around children: They don’t
ask us why we don’t get a better job; they don’t tell us to be more
responsible; they don’t suggest that we lose some weight; they don’t
make us feel unattractive; they don’t see our fears or intimidate us
432 Chapter Three
in as many ways as adults do.
We don’t like seeing this, but a significant part of the motivation
for many of us to have children is that we feel alone, and we hope
children will love us and make us happier. That’s understandable,
but we are often selfishly using our children to make us feel better.
Elise and Chris had lived together for two years. Both came to
the relationship without experiencing much Real Love, and each
expected the other to make him or her happy. Naturally, the result
was disappointment and bitterness. As their relationship began to
fail, Elise thought a baby might bring them together again. Without
telling Chris, she stopped using her contraceptive and became
pregnant. Soon after that Chris left the relationship completely and
moved away. After he left Elise said to a friend, “Well, at least when
the baby comes, I won’t be alone.”
What a fate! Even before his birth, this child was given the
responsibility to make his mother feel loved. That’s a burden no
child can carry and be happy, but that’s the job most children are
given, and it destroys them.
We Get Angry at Our Children
Because We Learned That Response from Others
In a given situation, we have a natural inclination not to do what’s
most effective but to do what we’ve learned. Most of us can easily
recall how our parents and others responded to us when we were
quiet, clean, responsible, and cooperative as children. They smiled
at us, spoke gently, and in other ways indicated how pleased they
were with us. But we also remember what happened when we made
too much noise in the car, fought with our sister, and dragged dog
poop across the living room carpet. The smiles and kind words were
instantly replaced with frowns, sighs of exasperation, and words
spoken in a harsh tone. It certainly wasn’t intentional, but we were
clearly and repeatedly taught that when people make mistakes, the
natural consequences are disappointment, irritation, and disapproval.
It’s little wonder that we learned to repeat the same pattern with our
friends, classmates, co-workers, spouses, and children.
NO ONE EVER MAKES US ANGRY
Real Love in Parenting 433
Earlier in the chapter, I mentioned that in our society it’s almost
universally accepted that other people are responsible for making us
angry. When we’re mad, we’re usually blaming someone for causing
that feeling. All that blaming and anger never make us happy, but
we keep doing it. Why? Because other people—being flawed
human beings, and having their own needs to fill—unavoidably and
regularly inconvenience us, which we believe is the same thing as
causing our anger. Our reasoning might go something like this:
• All was well in my world. I was fine.
• Then that bone-headed, inconsiderate, selfish fool _____
(whatever he or she did to “make” you angry).
• Immediately I became angry.
• Because I would not have become angry if he had not behaved
in that way, and because my reaction immediately followed
his behavior, it’s obvious that he caused my anger.
Because anger is so destructive, and because blaming others
only makes the continuation of anger a certainty, I will present here
several proofs that other people are never the cause of our anger.
These will also stand as proofs that our children never make us
angry. Take your time with these. As you absorb them and allow
them to change your thinking, your world will change, and you will
gain the ability to give your children great personal power.
The Self-evident Proof:
We Always Have a Choice
As human beings, we have a position unique in the universe.
Although there is certainly much in this world that is beautiful and
awe-inspiring—the stars, planets, oceans, mountains, trees, birds,
fish, sub-molecular intricacies, and so on—we alone have the ability
to determine our own course. The behavior of everything else is
determined by gravity, instinct, the weather, training, and DNA, but
we human beings can actually comprehend our condition, ponder
it, and make decisions that will change our course. In fact, we’re
quite jealous of that ability and will defend to the death our right
to exercise it. We have fought many wars against those who would
434 Chapter Three
claim to tell any of us what we can or cannot do.
As proud as we are of our ability to make our own decisions
about everything else, why is it that we are so quick to claim that
other people can make us angry? Whenever we think or say “You
make me so mad”—a common expression indeed—we are giving
up our right to determine how we feel, and we do this quite often.
We claim that we can make our own decisions about everything
else but not about how we feel. Why is that? Because we claim
the ability to make choices only when it suits us. We like being
responsible for choosing what we eat, and what we wear, and
where we live, and whom we’ll marry, because we like the
consequences—the rewards—of those choices. But we don’t like
being held responsible for our anger. We’d rather blame that choice
on someone else.
Rain makes the ground wet. The sun makes the grass warm. The
ground and the grass have no choice in the matter. But we human
beings are not dirt or grass. We do have choices—about many things,
including about how we feel. When people treat us badly, we make
decisions about how we will respond. In the absence of Real Love,
our ability to respond is certainly impaired—sometimes severely—
but we can still choose to limit our Getting and Protecting Behaviors
(including anger) to some degree. The more we understand about
the behavior of other people, and the more loved we feel, the more
able we become to make wise and loving choices. Self-control and
Real Love enjoy a powerful synergy, which we’ll discuss in Chapter
It’s Your Emptiness and Fear That Lead to Anger,
Not What Someone Else Does to You
(Two Dollars vs. Twenty Million)
In Chapter One I asked you to consider what it would feel like if you
were starving and I took your last two dollars, the money you hoped
to exchange for a loaf of bread. You were angry, and understandably
you blamed your anger on me. But then we imagined a different
scene. Again I took two dollars from you, but this time you had
twenty million dollars in the next room. Your anger was either
eliminated or greatly reduced, proving that your anger in the first
scene was caused not by me but by your lack of twenty million
Real Love in Parenting 435
As I said in Chapter One:
When we have enough Real Love in our lives, we feel as though
we have twenty million emotional dollars with us all the time.
With that greatest of all treasures, the little inconvenient things
people do become relatively unimportant. With Real Love, we
have everything that matters. Without it, we become afraid and
protect ourselves with anger. Our anger is caused by a lack of
Real Love in our own lives, not by what our children or anyone
else does in a given moment.
You Can’t Claim That Someone Makes You Angry
If Anyone Else Does Not Become Angry
When That Person Does the Same Thing
I once went with some friends on a canoe trip down a stretch of
river that included some challenging white-water rapids. My friend
Gene was less experienced than the rest of the group and nervous
about the adventure, so I invited him to go with me in my canoe
and assured him that he’d have a great time. During our passage
through one of the more difficult rapids, two of the men in another
canoe were goofing around and intentionally bumped their canoe
into mine. Gene was startled, lost his balance, and fell out of the
canoe. Of course, that tipped the canoe over and threw me into the
Gene was already anxious about this outing. He’d never canoed
a river this rugged, and now he found himself bouncing between
large rocks while gasping for air in the cold, churning water.
Understandably, this had become a terrifying experience for him. I
hurried to make sure that Gene was all right, and when he reached
the calmer waters I found that he was fine physically, but he was
furious at the two men who had bumped into our canoe. Clearly, he
blamed them for his anger.
Unwittingly, he had proved that other people don’t make
us angry. The exact same thing happened to both Gene and me:
We were both bumped by the other canoe, dumped into the cold
water, and forced to swim through the rapids down the river. Our
436 Chapter Three
reactions, however, were strikingly different: Gene was enraged at
the men who had run into us, while I found the whole incident rather
humorous and invigorating.
What was the difference? Gene was simply unprepared for what
happened, in at least two ways. First, he was physically unprepared.
He had no experience with such situations—through no fault of
his own—so when he was bumped by the other canoe, he didn’t
know what to do, lost his balance, and fell into the water. He was
also emotionally unprepared. He had not felt sufficient Real Love
in his life, so he was already unhappy, and the slightest mishap was
enough to push him over the edge. When he became frightened,
he immediately reached for the Protecting Behavior he had always
used—anger. It was the only thing he knew to do.
Because I was physically prepared for canoeing, being bumped
by the other men was not overwhelming to me, although I was
still thrown in the water because of Gene’s reaction. Because of
that inconvenience, I could then have reacted with anger to all
three men, but I had been prepared emotionally by years of being
unconditionally loved. Because of that love, I didn’t feel empty
or afraid and therefore had no need to use any of the Getting and
Protecting Behaviors, including anger. I was not a better man than
Gene, just better prepared to react to that incident.
We see examples all around us of people reacting differently to
the same events. In World War II, for example, millions of people
were imprisoned and killed in concentrations camps, by the Germans
and by the Japanese. From the many oral and written accounts made
by survivors of those camps, we have learned that many of those
people understandably became very angry and bitter because of the
unspeakably hateful treatment they received at the hands of their
captors. Some of those inmates, however, chose not to become
angry. Instead, they forgave their tormentors and even learned to
love them. They saw the terrible effects of anger and hate—on
both perpetrators and victims—and they refused to give in to those
feelings. Victor Frankl spoke of such people in Man’s Search for
Meaning, as did Corrie ten Boom in her book, The Hiding Place.
Some of us get angry when other people are inconsiderate toward
us, but others of us do not. Clearly, the problem is not the people
who are inconsiderate. If that were so, everyone would become
angry when he or she were treated badly, but that does not happen.
Real Love in Parenting 437
In fact, if you get angry when I do something, and we can find even
one person in the world who does not get angry when I do that same
thing, then I did not make you angry. You made a choice. Anger
is always a choice. In any given situation, some people choose to
become angry and others do not.
When Imitation Love Makes Your Anger Go Away,
You Can’t Claim Someone Else Caused Your Anger
One day I was having lunch with my friend Larry, and he mentioned
an incident with his son Jordan. Larry had clearly told Jordan never
to use Larry’s expensive video camera, but Jordan ignored his
warning, and while Larry was out of the house, Jordan used the
camera, dropped it, and damaged it. Larry was furious at his son,
and during our conversation he used the phrase, “Sometimes that
kid makes me so mad.”
Me: If I gave you a million dollars in cash right now—and a new
car—would you be less irritated with him?
Larry: (smiling) Yes, I guess I would.
Me: Then Jordan didn’t make you angry.
Larry: I don’t understand.
Me: If a million dollars would make your anger go away, then
obviously the real cause of your anger is the lack of a million
dollars, not Jordan—right?
Other people never make us angry. Anger is always a
In our society, we commonly greet people by asking some
variation on “How are you?” A frequent reply to that query is
“Fine” or “Good.” What we almost always mean by that response
is that things are going well. We mean that our supply of Imitation
Love is adequate for the moment, and that is what keeps us from
being angry. But if we’re running low on praise, power, pleasure,
and safety, watch out! That’s when we become irritable. When we
don’t have enough Imitation Love, people who would ordinarily not
438 Chapter Three
bother us suddenly become enormously irritating.
Once again, it’s not the individual behaviors of the people
around us that make us angry. Anger is our reaction to the emptiness
and fear that always accompany the lack of Real Love. When we
have sufficient Imitation Love, we can often temporarily ignore the
emptiness of not feeling loved. When we run out of Imitation Love
and get angry, a new supply of Imitation Love usually makes our
anger go away.
When Real Love Makes Your Anger Go Away,
Then It’s Obvious That the Lack of it Was the Real Cause.
Earlier in this chapter, George was irritated with his son, Dan, and
he was certain that Dan had made him angry. Over the following
months, however, he learned to tell the truth about himself—
which we’ll discuss in the next chapter—and he began to feel
unconditionally accepted by wise and loving friends. As George felt
loved and happy, he no longer had a need to demand respect and
obedience from his son. When compared with Real Love, Imitation
Love soon loses its appeal.
As George felt unconditionally loved, he lost his need for anger,
which is a Getting and Protecting Behavior. He quit being angry
even though Dan’s behavior remained the same for quite some time.
And thus he proved that Dan had never been the cause for his anger.
If Dan had really been the cause, George would have continued to
be angry when Dan’s behavior didn’t immediately change.
I have observed the effect of Real Love on the lives of hundreds
of people, and I can tell you that George’s story isn’t the least bit
unusual. As we feel unconditionally loved, we lose our anger—
perhaps not all at once, but it does go away eventually.
THE FREEDOM OF BEING RESPONSIBLE
FOR OUR ANGER
We blame people for our anger because it seems easier than taking
the responsibility ourselves, a technique we learned from birth.
When I blame you for my anger, however, I’m stuck. I’ll be angry
forever unless you change. That’s unfortunate for two reasons: It’s
very impractical to have my happiness chained to your decisions,
Real Love in Parenting 439
and it’s simply untrue that you cause my anger.
When I realize that my anger is a reaction to the emptiness and
fear caused by a lack of Real Love in my own life, I can now do
something about it. I can tell the truth about myself and get the
unconditional love I need. I can quit being angry at my children and
instead be a loving parent to them—an infinitely better choice.
After understanding that other people don’t cause our anger,
we can take the next crucial step of teaching this principle to our
children. And then they too can experience the freedom that comes
from take responsibility for their own anger. I suggest that you
become familiar with two or more of the above proofs and use them
in teaching your children in family meetings and in situations where
they become angry.