For years I have cultivated acres of gardens in my backyard, and in the process I have discovered that certain patches of ground have been more resistant to my guiding hand than others. Throughout the yard there is considerable variation in the soil, drainage, light exposure, and other conditions that affect plant life, and because of my ignorance of these conditions and their interactions I have—on many occasions--planted flowers, bushes, ground cover, and trees in places where they were unable to thrive.
In one particular patch of ground—shaped like a triangle, maybe forty feet on a side, on a hillside not far from the main entrance to our home—I have planted several varieties of groundcover in succession, all of which have eventually declined and died. A couple of years ago I planted a groundcover in the triangle that the nursery called monkey grass—blue monkey grass, actually, although I soon left out the "blue" part, because the green leaves had no hint of blue that I could see. To my delight, this new grass grew beautifully and began to spread.
I was quite pleased with myself, but one day as I stooped to admire my patch of grass, I noticed something disturbing. What I had thought was a prolific growth of monkey grass, filling in the spaces between the plants I had originally planted, was really a growth of a pesky weed called nut grass. I hadn't noticed this earlier because the leaves of nut grass are almost identical in color, shape, width, and length to the leaves of monkey grass.
No other weed could have succeeded in growing to such an extent in my triangle. Only nut grass could have pulled off that feat, because it masqueraded so well as the monkey grass I had planted, fooling me for quite some time. To this day, as I pass by that patch, I carefully inspect it for any sign of the insidious invader, carefully pulling out even a single plant, knowing that if I let it grow, it will take over the entire triangle.
And so it is with Imitation Love. The power of Imitation Love comes from its ability to imitate that which is good, specifically the beneficial qualities of Real Love. When people are showering us with conditional approval, for example, the resultant positive feelings we experience are not imaginary.
Being flattered, praised, and accepted feels so good—especially in the absence of Real Love—that we simply cannot imagine that such wonderful feelings could be anything other than genuine love. When someone has sex with us—or even when they express desires for us—it is unthinkable that the feelings we experience might be weeds and not what we've been looking for all our lives.
Similarly, when we give Imitation Love, the potential for confusion is enormous. When I perform an act of service for you, how can I be certain how much of that act is motivated by Real Love—the desired plant—and how much is the nut grass of Imitation Love, which has crept into the mix without my being aware?
And then, when we combine what we give and what we get into the ultimately volatile situation of falling in love, the fertilizing potential exists for nut grass to literally take over our lives. In that condition, people become quite blinded by their consuming needs for Imitation Love, to the point where they often can't tell the difference between nut grass and a mature forest of oak trees.
It takes only a little experience to distinguish between nut grass and monkey grass, but even then I have to check the monkey grass closely and on a regular basis to be certain that it's not being overrun by that masquerading weed. Considerable experience, on the other hand, is required to distinguish Imitation Love from Real Love, and then we must be careful for a lifetime to constantly root out the destructive effects that Imitation Love can have on our happiness and our relationships.
There's no reason to do this in fear, but it must be done, because Imitation Love—like a weed—never sleeps. It's always there to seduce us, undermine our happiness, and sicken our relationships. The cultivation of Real Love doesn't require more work than Imitation Love does, but it does require constant and special care.