Long term, loving relationships can be sustained if each substitutes the illusion of who their partner is for the reality of the personhood of that mate. The threat of losing the love of one's mate is so great as to cause feelings of dread. The manner in which a couple characteristically cope with this fear will determine the longevity and quality of their relationship. In over 40 years of marriage and treating couples, the authors have found that both broken relationships and permanent couplings have a similar underlying dynamic. Separations most often follow from the reactions and counter reactions that occur in response to the fear of loss of the loving relationship. Relationships can be long-lasting but deadened by the fear of separation and a focus on changing one's partner. There is no real confrontation between the couple because the Pain of being together is less then the anticipated pain of separation.