Happy relationships depend not on finding the right person but on being the right person

In the fairy tale The Sleeping Beauty, the heroine is saved from her seeming endless sleep by a kiss from the handsome prince, who whisks her away to his palace where they live happily ever after. This same idea is portrayed in Snow White and in countless other stories. Even in the 90s, many films and novels continue to follow a similar plot concept. Many people grow up believing the false information given to us by television, radio, film, and the printed word that something or someone can rescue us from our mundane lives and turn us into all that we want to be. Even our parents may inadvertently give us the impression that the right person can make everything just fine. Young women dress up like fairy princesses in white lacy dresses on their wedding day, propagating this myth even further.

Why, then, do so many people seem discontented in their marriages and relationships? Why do people divorce and then often remarry someone who may resemble their previous partner? Is one reason because they remain the same within? And like attracts like? So they continue on and on, attracting the same painful and unsatisfactory relationships for as long as they continue to live with the same old attitudes.

When a person begins to work on changing himself from within, he begins to attract different types of people and experiences into his life. The junkie who is using drugs is likely to associate with other drug users. When he reforms himself and starts to change his attitudes, he may start associating with a different sort of person. This is because he is changing from within.

Most people think of love as some sort of power outside of themselves that will “take them away from all of this.” Sadly, that is not the case. Love exists only within our own hearts, and to have happy relationships we must first become truly loving people. And as we fill our hearts with love by expressing love toward others in thought, word, and deed (“acting as if ” until we make it happen if necessary), that love can heal our own lives, help to solve our problems, and enable us to feel good about ourselves.

The Biblical Scripture 1 John 4:16 states, “So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him.” It is easy and natural to love family and friends. But how about the people who hurt us and make us angry? How about those who do not live up to our own standards of appearance and conduct? Do we love them, or do we simply tolerate them? The fact is that the harder someone is to love, the more he needs to be loved! There is nothing that indicates the degree of our maturity so well as our ability to love well. One of the great challenges of the human experience is to love the so‑called unlovable. On a television program entitled The Word from Unity, Ernest Borgnine commented, “A few times in my life, I’ve gotten a glimpse of the real self of a person. It was only because I looked with eyes of love. I cannot say what I saw, but I knew it was something that was inexpressibly beautiful. I believe that’s what I’d see if I saw the real self in you, but I have to look with the eyes of love! Love raises vision to a higher power than eye charts can measure.” Isn’t that beautiful! And this can be what happens when we look with the eyes of love, or see ourselves and others with the love with which God sees us. Can we believe the love that God has for us? And then allow ourselves to be a channel through which this love may flow?

In Alan Cohen’s book The Healing of the Planet Earth, the following passage pours a beautiful light on how love is the real key to success in all of our endeavors, whether it be work, relationships, family, achievements, or harmony among the nations and peoples of the world. “The real secret of success is love. We must love ourselves enough to know that we are worthy to succeed. We must believe that those around us want us to win at life, and that our winning can only support their winning. We must know that God wants us to be happy in all the arenas of our life. We must understand that there is no need to struggle, strain, or live in pain or a state of lack. These hellish conditions are but signals that we must try another way. We must never settle for less than whole and holy abundance in our health, relationships, and livelihood. We are not born to scratch the dirt with chickens—we were born to soar with the eagles!”

Being the right person can be the real story of our life. When we live centered and focused in the light of truth, we become a shining beacon, drawing to us our own. And we are not alone—ever! When we walk holding the hand of Spirit, the very heavens open to pour forth abundant blessings. In his famous prayer, St. Francis asks that he may seek rather to “love than to be loved. For it is by self‑forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.” So, too, it can be our experience that it is by loving that we are loved; it is by being the right person that we find the right person.