In this exploration of loving and living, bestselling author Leo Buscaglia addresses the intricacies and challenges of love relationships. He asks such important questions, as: How do we best interweave our lives with our loved ones? Do we change our way of relating depending on the circumstances: If we fail in one relationship, can we succeed in others? In this exhilarating book, Leo doesn't give pat answers. He presents alternatives and suggests behavior that opens the way to truly loving each other. He recalls with heartwarming detail the importance of his own family and friendships in helping him to be open to grow and to love.
Tenderness emerges from the fact that the two persons, longing, as all individuals do, to overcome the separateness and isolation to which we are all heir because we are individuals, can participate in a relationship that, for the moment, is not of two isolated selves but a union.
"What happened," I asked her, "after having been together for so long? What happened?"
"I don't know," she answered. "I just don't know."
This dialogue seems inconceivable. We are all so much an active part of so many loving relationships, yet we have spent so little time considering the dynamics of what makes them work. Each day, for example, we interact with significant people who will affect our well-being, such as husbands, wives, parents, sons and daughters. We treat our encounters with them with carefree casualness. We seem unconcerned that they have any real influence at all. We ignore the fact that they have the power to bring us laughter or tears, joy or despair. These same relaxed attitudes are insidiously at work in our relationships with coworkers, neighbors and friends. We are certain that our relationships will naturally take care of themselves.
Most of us have never felt compelled to examine our relating and explore that what we feel, what we say, and what we do, affects it. It is imperative that this be done. Our relationships influence our mental health, our role in society and the family, our friends and lovers, and the groups to which we will belong.
Though I have valued the importance of loving relationships all my life, it has only been within the past 12 years that I have actively engaged in the study of relating. It doesn't seem like a great deal of time. Still, when I've reviewed the disappointing, almost nonexistent literature in the field or questioned others about the extent of the energies they have put to the task, even 12 years seems impressive.
My interest in loving relationships has led me to engage in both formal and informal studies. Whenever I have found someone such as myself actively seeking ways to relate with others in varying levels, I eagerly do my informal research. It makes for stimulating conversation. When I ask them if they feel happy and fulfilled in their present relationships, their answers intrigue and surprise. The most common replies given are, " I guess so." "Some of the time." "I haven't thought much about it." "I get along." "I have my highs and lows, what more can I expect?" Not very stimulating or inspiring. It is sad to find that very few answer an unequivocal, "Yes!"
I continue by asking if they have had any formal schooling in relationships, or have given any real serious thought to the subject over the years. Reactions to this have ranged from "Formal schooling in relating? Where do I get that?" "Well, I've thought about it some. I guess I'm as good at it as anyone else," to "Study relationships? You just form them and suffer the consequences."
I can't help but wonder if these individuals would ever consider voluntarily jumping in the sea without some knowledge of swimming, some water survival skills. I ponder why they are content to remain year after year in less than happy, unrewarding relationships when it could be otherwise. I speculate whether they suspect that relationships are capable of changing, growing and providing them with extraordinary dividends of love, warmth or security. I question if they are aware of the fact that a loving relationship can nourish as no other form of human interactive behavior, that positive, long-lasting, loving relationships give our lives the most fundamental meaning.