Paradox of Love

The Paradox of Love or The Pain of Separation

The Paradox of Love

“In our attempt to say no to pain, we say no to love. And what’s worse, we say no to ourselves.” – Jorge Bucay

A real couple cannot avoid suffering. A person understands this and remains alone “until” the ideal partner appears (which – precisely because it is ideal, does not exist). Because of this, suffering, instead of being avoided, occurs continuously.

Any intimate relationship where we can reveal ourselves, meet and give is one of the most beautiful things in life. With such relationship, we look for contact, love and closeness, because these are the situations that enrich us, make us feel alive, fill us with strength and desire.

The paradox begins when we realize that these same relationships cause us the most suffering and the most pain, many times more than anything else.

When we open ourselves to intimacy, to love, to encounter, we also expose ourselves to the danger of suffering and pain.

The natural force that pushes us to give in to our emotions and make the meeting happen collides with our natural inclination to protect ourselves from suffering because we intuitively understand that by opening up to someone we are giving them the opportunity to hurt us.

We all have an identity, an armor that doesn’t want to take the risk of being hurt – and therefore closes down.

The child needs the love of his parents and builds his identity to receive this love.

“If I see that I’m getting more attention when I’m weak, I’ll shape my identity around the weakness.”

“If I see that they are proud when I am independent, I will try to keep my identity strong, I will tell myself that I can do it myself or that I don’t need help.”

The personality we build serves us to act and achieve the love of others. We put on a mask and identify with it. We forget who we are and what we really want.

Love and closeness can only exist when we truly open up to someone. But this is impossible if we have put on our armor, close ourselves in our palace or hide in our structured identity.

Nor is it a question of rejecting this identity: we have built it so that we can face some difficulties in life. The idea is to observe it, get to know it and understand when it is working against us by cutting off real contact.

This is the approach we recommend: observing our own way of participating in life and being aware of the roles in which we are stuck.

The paradox does not end there, this intimate and potentially destructive relationship is the best opportunity to rediscover ourselves and shake off our habitual masks.

So, many times we solve this paradox by avoiding suffering, giving up love, and denying ourselves the encounter.

In our attempt to say no to pain, we say no to love. And what’s worse, we say no to ourselves.

When we fall in love, the recklessness of love makes us open up and get in touch with our true selves in the first moment. This is exactly what makes falling in love so wonderful, because it gives us the opportunity to open up, to show ourselves as we are.

Falling in love is a meeting of two people as they are. We play different roles, function like programmed robots, and suddenly the miracle happens… We take off our masks and offer our presence as a gift to the one we fall in love with. We know that doesn’t last long. Sooner or later the obstacles, tendencies, habits, defense mechanisms manifest themselves.

We would do well to learn that the only way to overcome these obstacles is to accept them instead of denying them or projecting them onto the other.

The problem arises when we identify with our armor and find security in it. We protect ourselves from our uncomfortable feelings by learning not to feel and get rid of our needs, and our defense mechanisms become an identity that separates us from what we feel and prevents us from loving. We can observe how and when we open and how and when we close to the other, and once we know more about the disconnection, we can create a channel to open up.

Couples project onto each other what causes them to shut down and turn this struggle from internal to external. Then we decide that the other is shutting down, that he won’t let us in, that he is the adamant one.

If we walk this path together and with love, instead of reacting to the other’s reaction, we will be able to show what happens to us when the other moves away, when he closes down. We need to hear from our companion which of our behaviors hurt him the most and cause him to move away from us.

The problems of the couple begin when we stop showing our essence to ourselves and to the other, when we hide again behind habitual roles and behind screens; when we feel pain from the other’s drifting away, which is often a projection of our own drifting.

I am less inclined to believe that the issue that couples complain about lies in solving the specific problems. If we look more closely at any dispute, we always come to a lack of contact, a lack of openness.

If I can open up and show my pain in the face of any problem, and my partner does the same, maybe the problems will move to another level of conflict, because the most important thing will be that we are together, opened to one another and that we are in touch and ready to meet what is happening. And that is very encouraging.

To open up and trust that the other will accept us as we are, is a behavior that originates from love and leads us to it. I don’t need to be strong for you to love me. If I do, I’ll never know if you’re capable of loving me for who I really am: vulnerable, weak, or whatever. In this way, I associate you with the image intended for those who, raising me, instilled in me that I must behave in a certain way in order to be loved.

It is not easy to dare to take off the mask: we fear, for example, that we will be thought of as vulnerable. But if I’m vulnerable (of course I am), I need us (you and me) to accept my vulnerability to be present in what’s going on and give ourselves to each other.

The couple’s difficulty comes from the fact that we both play this game – and if I open up and the other person closes down, the pain is very strong. This is why intimacy causes so much suffering: because we always face the same problems, the same game.

Perhaps this will help our readers to observe the whole process in their own couple and realize it, which is actually the means to overcome it.

We can observe how the side that strives to come out, show itself, and the other that wants to hide because it is afraid of being excluded, unloved, rejected, abandoned, is fighting inside us.

We can use everyday problems as a way to get to the more essential ones that are invariably present in a relationship. This is how we enrich ourselves continuously, because we get closer and closer to ourselves, and this is the only way to feel good: to experience love, peace and joy. After all, that’s what we’re after, because we all want to feel good. The bad thing is that we are taking inappropriate paths…

Sometimes couples ask me:

– How can we be together if we always want different things?

And I tell them that basically they always want the same thing, because we all want to be able to love each other, to get close, to drop our armor and give ourselves.

Perhaps the solution lies in realizing that the pre-charted path has turned out to be useless. We must put aside our old identity and keep searching for a new way, free ourselves from the old structures to find a way together: fight against our fear of mistakes and of loneliness. We can’t wait to be free of fear to move forward.

All couples have problems and unresolved issues. The idea is not to fix the problems, because if we devote ourselves to a problem, a new one will appear tomorrow, and so on. The idea is to detach ourselves from the content of this particular problem and find a new context to see what is happening to us: to look at problems from another angle without identifying only with our own view, to abandon the idea that we must arrange things to get rid of the problem. This proposal means going beyond what we see at first glance and seeing into the essence of the problem: what we are really talking about, what is the real reason for the dispute that is expressed in this particular way.

It is not easy to accept this new view, because it is opposed to our culture, where the desire is to fix things by changing something external. And because external change is never enough, we usually shift the blame – once again – to character incompatibility or not having found the right person.

The paradox of love…


To love each other with open eyes“, Jorge Bucay