Cynthia was telling me about the affair she was having with her new boyfriend, Curt. "This is more fun than I've had in years. My life was stale and boring. But when I'm with Curt, all the excitement is back. I love it."
"And Malcolm [her husband] doesn't make you feel like that anymore, right?"
"Exactly." She was pleased that I understood her situation.
"Kind of magical, isn't it?"
"Yes, you've got it."
"Darlin', I really get how fun this is—exciting, interesting, entertaining. Really, I do. But all those feelings are just confusing you. The fun and excitement feel so good that you believe you're happy. But fun and exciting are not the same as happiness."
"But when I'm with Curt, I really am happy."
"I know you believe that, but sincere belief in a thing doesn't make it true. So let's look at what's true. Has Curt ever had a lasting, loving relationship? Truthfully, now."
There was a long pause. "No, not really."
"Neither have you. Neither of you has had any consistent experience with Real Love, which would utterly disable both of you emotionally, and yet you believe that 'magically'—a word you just agreed would describe what you're feeling—you two have created a loving, healthy relationship. Impossible. When you and Malcolm first met, that was magical too, wasn't it?"
Another pause. "Yeah, I guess it was."
"Sweetie, there's no blaming in what I'm saying, but I am telling you that Real Love requires conscious choices that you simply are not capable of making at this point. You expect that happiness—in the form of excitement and fun—will magically fall from the sky and hit you on the head. You want the intoxication of romance. Nearly the whole world believes that is happiness, so you're hardly alone in this."
"You're right. I do want the magic. What's wrong with that?"
"There's not a single thing wrong with wanting the fun and the excitement, but they won't last unless there's a foundation of unconditionally loving choices. Once you've learned to find and share Real Love—not perfectly, but at least making steady progress—and you find a partner who is willing to do the same, you can build a solid, genuine foundation. And then fun, excitement, magic, thrills, and all the rest become expressions of that solid love. But what almost everyone does is skip the foundation and hope that the fun will create unconditional love. It simply can't happen that way. We can't rely on magic to make us happy, but if we choose the truth and unconditional love first, the magic will naturally follow."