Love is Mutual Appreciation

It was the third Saturday of the month, Julie’s day to spend with Taylor. In a short time, they had become special friends. Julie planned to take Taylor on an excursion to the Art Museum and Inventor’s Place.

Last month they toured Stan Hywet, an old mansion owned by former rubber tycoons. Taylor’s big brown eyes glowed with wonder as she gazed into the distant past of period wardrobes, antique Persian rugs, intricate woodworking, and elaborate tapestries. She drank in every word of the estate’s history from the tour guide. And her inquisitive mind raced as she asked hundreds of questions.

Julie smiled in recollection. How wonderful to reach out beyond herself to help a child grow and expand her mind, she thought. Today would be special, too. And they would top it off at Wendy’s with hamburgers and fries, Taylor’s favorite treat!

The next day, Julie worked out at the spa—another one of her goals. She’d been procrastinating for months. How good it was to feel alive, energetic and, yes, happy even though her date Friday night with Joe had been typical. She shook her head in resignation. Somehow, we keep missing the mark, she thought, but I will not let my ‘lover’s limbo’ keep me down anymore. Somehow, I believe it will all work out.

“Dr. Braun,” she began at her next session, “I feel my understanding of how successful relationships work is falling into place. However, I still don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle put together yet. I still don’t have a handle on my situation. I now realize Joe and I don’t exemplify ‘mutual appreciation’. The relationship is, or I have allowed it to become one-sided, and I must work on that. But… how will I know when the balance of love is right?”

“Oh, you’ll know,” said Dr. Braun. It happens in stages. First, you’ll start feeling comfortable and confident with yourself and will emerge free to share yourself with others. Like what you’re doing with Taylor. Like a star that takes center stage because she has something valuable to offer and convey—her thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

A word of caution, though. In a relationship, this doesn’t mean that your partner will automatically agree with everything you feel, think, or want. Mutual appreciation’ simply extends to you the right of free expression in an atmosphere of respect and acceptance. It means your partner won’t launch into a lecture to condemn you, attack you, or withdraw from your openness.

Creating this atmosphere of mutual ‘opening’ springs wide the door of reciprocal self-expression. It allows you to reveal previously sealed exchanges and unlock the treasure chest of intimacy pledged to us by love’s promises.

One promise is that we’ll find understanding. Understanding is what we seek most in a relationship. How many times have you asked Joe, ‘Do you see what I mean?’ You are asking if he understands you. You want him to see you, to understand your inner psyche. You want to become psychologically visible to him.

This piercing vision into another’s soul invites profound bonding. It is an incredible experience to ‘connect’ mentally and emotionally with another human being! To meet someone who thinks as we do, who notices what we notice, who values the things we value, whose morals are in harmony with our own and who responds to situations as we do. We see ourselves through him.

It’s like seeing our reflection in a mirror. This mirroring of ourselves in another is the key to finding our soulmate. Mutual visibility is as important to love as the sun is to flowers. As water is to life.

“What do you mean? I’m not following this,” said Julie.

Couple sharing dinner“We reach out for this ‘connection’ with our lover by how we express our personality, by how we behave toward him,” the doctor explained. It is expressed by things we say and do and the ways we say and do them. We know when he sees us by his like-minded behavior toward us. By how he looks at us. By how he speaks to us. By how he responds to us. If his inner-self, from his own base of aloneness, is in sync with our own, then we see each other. The balance is right. We connect.

In your relationship, ask yourself, ‘Am I visible to my lover? Does he see me?’ If his behavior toward you portrays a distorted mirror image, if you don’t see yourself through him, something is wrong. You’re fighting an uphill battle.


Romantic love is a maze of complexities. Yet we humans ask love to transfer us magically into paradise. We don’t realize what a mind-boggling task romantic love takes on as it struggles to merge two separate personalities into one harmonious entity that shows love in equal balance. Believe me, it’s not done with the wave of a mystical wand!

Nodding in agreement, Julie said, “Oh, this is much more complex than I ever imagined. A shot in the dark at this and you fail.” Pausing, she reflected on what she had heard and continued, Let me see if I understand what you said.

What you’re saying is that many more couples could succeed in their relationships if they understand the Tri-fold bond of love. That is — passion, emotional support, and spiritual strength. And that they must accept their own aloneness and individuality first and accept the aloneness and individuality of their partner.

Let’s see… And they do this by loving themselves first and expressing this love in a way their partner can see and respond to. And, oh yes, the key here is if he sees you and responds in kind, you have the basis for a solid relationship. If not, the relationship probably won’t work. Finally, there’s that matter of having or at least understanding the differences in energy levels.

“Whew!” Julie collapsed in her chair.

“Congratulations!” exclaimed Dr. Braun. “You have just passed Love Fundamentals 101.” Julie stood and embraced her, squealing like a high school girl who accepted an invitation to the prom.

Dr. Braun laughed and said, “Now you’re ready for the college program.” Julie’s shoulders slumped, feigning exhaustion.

“Seriously, Julie, there is considerably more to learn. This first phase was an overview with the emphasis on preparing yourself for successful dating first by becoming self-assured, confident, and positive. Love is first an inside job. Now you’re in a place to receive love.

As we move forward, we will discuss how men and women approach dating differently and the six stages of the dating process. I’ll introduce two profiles to complete. One is your Personal Profile. It defines who you are, and from that understanding, you will develop the second profile. This is your Selection Profile that helps paint a picture of your best match.

This Selection Profile thus becomes your guide to finding your soulmate.

“I want to know NOW!” Julie stomped her foot in silly giddiness—so happy to have found the source of answers at last.

Dr. Braun raised her left finger to her lip in a gesture, smiled with a twinkle in her eye, and said, “In due time, Julie, in due time.”



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