In his book “Friendship with God”, Neale Donald Walsch gives three love-killers as need, expectation and jealousy. It’s a powerful ego trio and good material for our ego watch today, given the approach of Christmas.
It can be sometimes very difficult to disentangle need, expectation and jealousy from love but they can cut across the clear, simple, unconditional caring for another and poison it entirely.
Need can include wanting from another as if one’s happiness and even survival depends on it. “I must have this in order to feel OK”. So it brings in things like deficit need, an unsatisfied emotional need that festers inside and won’t go away despite what others might do. In fact whatever they might do is “not enough” and there is this sense of there “not being enough”. Need can get very clingy, or others might feel they are being sucked dry emotionally. People might want to push a needy person away. Need might show itself as “What I want” in a forceful or underhand way rather than a clear self-expression without attachment. Another way is to be very focused on getting one’s own needs met, often without much regard for others except as to manipulate to get the desired result.
Expectation can be similar, as all three of these are variations on egoic desire. So, to expect things of others is to place conditions or standards on their behaviour, other people’s standards rather than their own. It’s rife in business of course, but we’re looking at emotional expectation here. There’s an expectation that people will show up in a particular way, and meet another’s needs. Again there’s a dependence on another’s behaviour for one to feel OK. If you are at the receiving end, you might feel you are always dancing to another’s tune, and your needs aren’t getting much of a look in.
Jealousy can be more of an angry emotion, if emotion is the right word. For example they might have what you want. There’s perhaps the sense you don’t match up to them and you resent it. You might think they are “better” than you, or have more than you, or have higher status, or are more successful, or are more beautiful, or have the “better” partner, or are richer, etc. It is aimed at the other person and can get very nasty. Love jealousy of course is a particularly strong example, when someone you fancy fancies another, or you think they do. The classic story of love jealousy is Shakespeare’s Othello.
With all three, love has got distorted, even to the extent that love might be entirely missing. One might think it is about love, but these feelings are quite different. They can of course destroy relationships.
The approach of Christmas, when families gather and we appreciate one another, is a good time to be reflecting on what we can take responsibility for, that we are creating, that we can potentially choose to let go, so as to connect once again with the pure simplicity of love for its own sake. And to remember, you and another are One.