Why Love Turns Into Contempt

27/04/2015 8:13 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Jonathan Kitchen via Getty Images
Two hands cup a heart in a caring and loving way. The heart symbolises love and relationships

When two people initially develop a loving relationship, the bond seems uncleavable. But all too often, the love melts away, leaving behind an ugly puddle of contempt. Why do we end up in a situation, where in spite of searching, we are unable to find a single good quality in the person we once loved?

Love ripens when we identify commonalities, but it rots when we only see the differences.

When two people love each other, they admire each other -- as god, almost - and consider the other to be infallible. When the focus is purely on the good, the vision is always divine and the experience of the relationship is heavenly.

This glimpse of divinity in the other person, however, is fleeting. It can only be sustained within a limited time span and within the boundary of a limited medley of events. As life progresses and taxing events unfold, the person's response mechanisms manifest in the form of less desirable qualities. When such qualities surface, it almost seems that the person has been replaced by his or her diabolical doppelganger. These detestable behaviour patterns then lead to doubt. And doubt is a seed that eventually grows into a tree of separation.

"Everyone expects a perfect masterpiece in others, while they themselves are happy to be deformed relics."

High expectations are a product of the imagination. The mind fools you into expecting perfection in every sphere. But relationships that are expectation-oriented fail. On the other hand, relationships that are discernment-oriented last. Discernment or the ability to judge helps you evaluate people based on realities and not imagination. Discernment is about seeing people as they are and not how you want them to be.


Most people want to deal with successes and not failures. Similarly most people want to deal with the strengths and not the weaknesses of others; their stabilities and not their idiosyncrasies; their good and not bad natures. Everyone expects a perfect masterpiece in others, while they themselves are happy to be deformed relics.

In the Ramayana, we find that Rama and Lakshmana had diametrically opposite personalities and yet were the closest of associates. Rama not only knew the sweet side of Lakshmana, but was also fully aware of his angry and violent side. With genuine care, Rama not only appreciated his good side, but assisted him deal with his bad side. Rather than rejecting a person due to his bad side, the need is to provide empathic assistance in dealing with shortcomings.

With those whom we love over relatively longer periods of time, it is important to remember that people seldom change, but our perceptions do based on our steady expectations. When you look for a perfect god you are met with imperfection and, naturally, disappointment follows. When you look for a mortal, you are met with someone struggling to overcome imperfections.

When you look for rotten qualities, you look at people as if they were a garbage dump. When you look for good qualities, you find people resembling gold mines, with invisible nuggets of gold enclosed in massive amounts of dirt. It's worth shovelling away heaps of dirt to uncover one piece of gold. Appreciation of others' good qualities is not just lip service, but a meditation.

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