“Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: they’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.” ―Anthony Robbins
Can anyone who’s happy in a relationship honestly claim, “I get nothing out of this relationship”? If so, then why are you happy in this relationship? How can you be happy if you’re not getting what you want?
Robbins poses a false alternative. Either you go into a relationship exclusively to give, or you go into a relationship exclusively to take.
Given the choice offered, Robbins — like most conventional moralists — says the better choice is exclusively to give.
But the world is filled with relationships or marriages where one partner exclusively gives. It’s not a pretty picture. The person constantly giving is resentful, angry, bitter and worn out by all the self-sacrifice. The recipient of the exclusive giving is spoiled, entitled, bratty, narcissistic and even abusive.
I can understand looking at the narcissistic entitled brat of a spouse and concluding, “This is no good.” What I cannot understand is concluding that the only other option is the exclusive giver. The giver is fueling and creating the narcissist. To get rid of one, you have to get rid of the other.
Advocates of Robbins’ view will rush to defend it by saying, “That’s not what he really means.” But why does he say it that way, then? If it’s not what he means, then why doesn’t he say it differently?
For example, he might say:
“A relationship is a trade. Each partner selfishly benefits from the other person being who he or she naturally is. Neither side sacrifices. Compromises are sometimes made along the way, but all the compromises are in the service of the principle: I love who this person is, and my life is objectively and emotionally better by remaining with this person.”
It’s called mutuality. Mutuality means what I just said — and not what Anthony Robbins, or most moralists or psychologists, claim that love is.
Robbins says you cannot and should not enter a relationship with any expectation about gaining anything. You should not seek to feel good, he insists. So what should you seek? To feel bad?
Why should you, and how can you, seek to not feel good in a romantic relationship? Your emotions won’t let you do this. No matter what your emotions are, your emotions of love are based on an expectation and a hope/belief about the kind of person you’re encountering. “I love you,” quite literally means: “I want you. I am happier around you.” The person being loved likes that you feel this way. To completely divorce personal desires, wants or expectations from the emotions of love is not only wrong; it’s a literal impossibility.
Look at it from the point-of-view of the person being loved. Do you want to be loved only because someone wishes to selfishly serve you, and in no way personally benefits from the fact of your relationship? Is it a slave you want, rather than a partner-in-life/love/sex who challenges and uplifts you? I doubt that you’ll say yes. If you do, then you’re with Robbins. But at least be honest about it: You want a slave and you seek to be the master. Or, perhaps you like being a slave. Own it. Don’t dress it up as Robbins does.
Most will persist in believing that Robbins’ conventional babble is somehow enlightened, progressive or part of the New Age of spiritual thought. It’s not. It’s just the same-old-same-old. It does not work. It cannot work. It should not work.
Love does not mean sacrifice. If sacrifice is part of your love equation, then something is wrong somewhere. You’re better off on your own than with someone for whom you must sacrifice your personal self and your personal happiness. For the same reasons, you’re better off on your own than with someone who cares little or nothing for him- or herself, and lives only to serve. Slavery is not love, not when enforced by chains, and not when enforced by false creeds like Anthony Robbins’ idea that love should not make you happy.
Love means mutuality. Two people whose lives are made better off by the existence of the other are what’s ideal, real and possible. Before you swallow Robbins’ poison or anyone else in the world of self-help or religion claiming the same thing, think seriously about what you’re swallowing.