Why the Price of Love is your Ego

“The reason that ego and love are not compatible comes down to this: you cannot take your ego into the unknown, where love wants to be lead. If you follow love, your life will become uncertain, and the ego craves certainty.” — Deepak Chopra

It’s there without us even knowing it. It’s protected us from the toxic people; it gives us the power to walk away. It’s made us vain, prompting us to hit the gym and cut the sweets. It’s taught us control, reminding us we have the power of choice. It’s been the necessary evil we’ve needed to survive the vicious cycle of ‘nice guys’ turning good girls bad, in turn making good guys assholes. And let’s face it — in a world where ‘ghosting’ is an acceptable break-up strategy and ‘we’re talking’ qualifies as a relationship status, maybe we need a shield. We need our pride, our egos, to protect us from getting our hearts broken over and over again.

But what happens when love enters your life? What happens when you no longer want to play the same old games? What happens when ‘talking’ just isn’t enough?

Ego vs. Love

Let’s face it: starting a new relationship is easy. You have everything in your favor. Lust is in overdrive from the excitement of meeting someone new, newness protects you from getting too invested, and curiosity keeps you intrigued.

That is, of course, until things start to get serious. The honeymoon period ends, and everything protecting you from your ego slowly starts to fade away. And in its opportunistic nature, your ego’s self-righteous pride starts to take over with its burning desire for control.

Love, on the other hand, is undeniably your ego’s worst enemy. It’s powerful and one of the few things that can battle years’ worth of ego centered barriers.

By nature, love is older than ego. You felt love when you could barely speak or understand. Ego, however, came as you developed in mind and reason; it’s what tries to reason with the heart to protect you from the world. But when it comes to ego and love, there is only room for one.

So why do ego and love have to battle it out?

Ego is interchangeable; love is irreplaceable.

Ego sees a hot girl or guy and starts to brag about mind-blowing abilities…in bed. Ego is shallow, insecure; it’s the driver every time you go to a party looking for that night’s hook-up and good time. It doesn’t differentiate between the hot hook-up from last week and the one from tonight, because they’re the same. Your ego lets you ‘go for it,’ but only when you’re not afraid of getting hurt — because you don’t care.

Real, soulful, ego-less love is unique and rare; it’s finding a diamond abandoned in the darkest of caves and loving it even more for its imperfections, all the dents and flaws that make it unique. Love means being unable to get that person out of mind when you’re dragged out to the bar, because nobody compares to them. A quote I once read said it best, “A boy brags about having sex with a thousand women, but a man is happy to have one woman and a thousand positions to sex with”. When you’re in love, spending time with that one person beats everything else.

Ego is past and future oriented; love lives in the now.

Ego can be found caught up in the past or daydreaming about the future. In relationships, your ego is what causes you to feel overwhelmed when everything starts to change and you have to deal with the present. It wants to pull you back to your old habits when you start to feel unsettled and uneasy so it can regain control of the future.

But love lives in the present. Ego-free love embraces any change; new possibilities and experiences are more exciting than scary. Rather than stop the music, it wants to live in the moment, to sing and dance to every song without caring about what’s playing next.

Ego takes; love gives.

Your ego is controlling and selfish, making you think you rely on another person to make you happy. It makes you think you need another person to complete you. It takes pleasure in taking and receiving.

In actual love, happiness grows from giving. It means smiling because your person smiled, sacrificing a night out for the pleasure of doing something together; the ‘we’ comes before the ‘me.’

True love is the ultimate desire for the other person — your person — to be happy so profoundly and deeply that, should that mean their happiness is with a person other than you, that’s what you would want.

Ego set conditions; love ignores them.

An ego-filled relationship is one sustained on conditions: that you never gain weight, never lie or cause one another pain. You’re quick to keep score and even quicker to run away at the first sign of disappointment or confrontation. Your ego likes to hear “I’m sorry” but never say it.

Love, on the other hand, is based in unconditional forgiveness. It is compassionate and accepting. It’s when you fight and then make each other dinner. You get angry in your mind but not your heart. You’ll be seen at your worst and your person will still believe you’re beautiful and stand by your side. Love breaks free from checklists and ‘non-negotiables,’ making you forget the things you thought you’d value when you didn’t have it, even when it doesn’t compute with reason.

Ego fears; love dares.

The greatest battles are not born of hate, but rather fear; we fear our enemy’s power. Ego here is no different. Your greatest enemy is the one you know you can’t control.

Ego is pride, and pride lives in fear. It’s fear of vulnerability, of being seen and possibly rejected for who you truly are. It’s fear of finally finding happiness and losing it and fear of apologizing and giving up power.

Love, however, lives in faith, rendering it fearless; with love, you believe nothing is impossible because a willing heart governs you. Love isn’t afraid, for it knows its own power.

Ego is afraid of truth, for love is all that’s true.

So here’s the question: are you willing to sacrifice your ego — your pride — for love?

Originally published at adventurself.com on January 24, 2016.