08/21/2013 12:08 pm ET Updated Oct 21, 2013

Can Love Last?

Have you wondered why some couples stay in love for many years in long marriages, while others go from relationship to relationship and can't maintain in-love feelings?

This doesn't just happen by chance. There is a good reason why sometimes love lasts and other times it doesn't. It has to do with what qualities both you and the other person fall in love with.

When you fall in love, what do you fall in love with?

If you fall in love with someone's external qualities and they fall in love with your external qualities -- such as looks and performance -- it is likely that love will not last. If you fall in love with each other's internal qualities -- such as kindness, caring, compassion, generosity, openness, and the unique quirky qualities that make them them -- then it is likely that love will last.

All relationships have their challenges, and sometimes the challenges are very big. The thing that keeps couples together through the rough times is how much they deeply love and value who their partner is in their heart and soul. If you ask couples whose love has lasted what they love about their partner, invariably they talk about the unique inner qualities that are endearing to them -- the qualities that don't go away with age and time.

If you fell in love primarily with how they look, what happens as they grow older? If you fell in love with their success, what happens if they fail? If you fell in love with their "potential," what happens if they never meet the potential you believe they have? If you fell in love with how they love you, what happens if they change and don't act loving in the way you thought they would?

Connecting Energetically

Each of us has a unique energy that others pick up -- sometimes unconsciously. People who fall in love with their partner's intrinsic qualities are generally responding to an energy they resonate with. These are people who have some sense of their own essence -- their own goodness, lovability, caring, compassion and kindness. Because they value who they are rather than just how they look or what they do, they resonate with people who also value their beautiful intrinsic qualities. They feel a deep sense of connection with who the other person is. It is this deep connection that sees them through the hard times.

If you primarily define your worth externally by your looks and performance, then you will likely resonate with a person who also defines themselves by their looks and performance, and who values you for your looks and performance. You feel a connection with them, but the connection is superficial and is not enough to see you through the hard times. Without the deeper inner heart and soul connection, the outer quickly wears thin during times of conflict and stress. Unless you deeply love and value who your partner is on the inner level, it's too easy to "fall out of love" -- which is really falling out of infatuation -- during the times when your partner may act angry, judging, people-pleasing, withdrawn or resistant.

Love is that which is unconditional, i.e., there are no conditions under which it goes away. When you love each other's essence, that love is unconditional. You might not love or even like your partner when he or she is acting out from their ego-wounded self, but you still love him or her. When you recognize that his or her ego-wounded self is NOT who your partner is, you are able to manage the hard times as they come up.

This is one of the reasons for not rushing into a relationship. Even if you fall in love with someone's essence, it takes time to know how often they operate from their essence and how often they operate from their wounded self. While you may love their essence, if they are in their wounded self much of the time -- closed, critical, angry, judgmental, people-pleasing, withdrawn or resistant -- the connection cannot last.

Love and connection last when both people love their own and each other's essence, and they choose to operate from their essence most of the time. For most people, it takes some inner work to reach this place of inner and relationship love and connection.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her new 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Intensive Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationship Issues."

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