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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Why Love Isn’t Always Love


Almost everyone knows the marvel of falling in love. Similarly, most of us have experienced the pain of love ending. What many of us don’t know is why love is not always love, even when the emotions of falling in love, or the pain of losing love are clearly very strong.

Let’s examine some of the ways in which we fall in love:
  • The chemistry between you and other person is so unusually strong that you (or both of you) believe it means you are in love
  • The adrenaline and excitement that surges when you are with the other is so strong that you are convinced it means you are in love
  • The need you feel for the other person is so strong that you believe it is a clear indication that this is love … else why would you feel such need?
  • The desire you feel to spend all your free time with the other, and not with friends and family, signifies – or so you believe – that this is love
  • The fact that you are unable to stop thinking about the other most of your waking hours, is a strong indication – or so you believe - that this is love
  • The near instant connection … almost on a soul level … that you feel with the other person very soon after meeting is so strong that you believe it signifies that this is love
  • The fact that the love the other shows you, and that you see reflected in their eyes, makes you feel so good, that you are convinced this is love, especially because you don’t feel that way when you are not together.
  • The fact that you are able to clearly see the qualities of your new partner – that he/she is not yet capable of seeing – qualities that you are convinced will surface, once your partner has realized how much you love him/her, and this love outpouring from you is so strong, that he/she will be able to change in order to allow said qualities to surface … makes you believe that this is true love
Now let’s examine how we might define an ideal state of love:
  • Ideally, loving another means you don’t love the other because you need him/her, because you have already learned to fulfill your own needs
  • Ideally, loving another means you are able to complement each other, not need each other, because you both bring full and rich lives to the table at the beginning of the relationship
  • Ideally, loving another means you love within the parameters of a rich and full life that you had before you met the other, and that you continue to nurture, despite the relationship with the one you love
  • Ideally, loving another means you love yourself first – not in a selfish way – but in the way you would take care of yourself first on board an aircraft should the air pressure drop, and thus you put your own oxygen mask on first in order to be able to be there for others. Clearly, this is not egotism, but an understanding that if you are taking good care of yourself, you are capable of offering so much to others
  • Similarly, loving yourself first, means a trespassing of boundaries is not tolerated
  • Ideally, loving another means you have learned how to love yourself, and thus do not need the other’s love to make you feel good about yourself. Rather, you give each other love freely, and revel in it, but feel good about yourself either way.
You will have seen the differences between the examples of ways in which we fall in love and the comments about an ideal state of love. Of course we fall in love in other ways as well, but the examples I have cited, rarely, if ever, give the end result we might hope for. In those situations, eventually what you thought was love often devolves into something dysfunctional and even toxic. There are a number of reasons for this. When we fall in love (or believe we are in love) due to needs that we believe the other will fulfill, a red flag is unfurling about what we have not yet learned how to do ourselves. This will create issues very quickly, when – for whatever reasons - the other balks at filling your needs. When we fall in love due to a strong desire to spend all our time with the other, another red flag unfurls regarding such a desire, such an obsession. A life that we have not filled with meaning, purpose, and content, and that we wish to fill with meaning and content through another, telling ourselves this means it is love, will surely cause the other to feel suffocated in short shrift, and sooner or later causes them to leave us to our own devices. The profound void caused by this abandonment by the beloved – fueled by your own lack of having learned to give your life meaning and purpose – is one of the most painful situations to be experienced in this kind of love. Another case in point is falling in love and having a vision of the other through rose-colored glasses. Such a vision typically has little to do with reality, and much more to do with our own as yet undeveloped inner qualities. Thus yet another red flag makes its appearance and shows us – if we have eyes to see it – that rather than yearning for said qualities in the other, we need to develop them ourselves.

So – what can be done? First, recognize the differences between real love – ideal love – and the love you think you feel due to some kind of need of lack of self-fulfilment. Second, and this is the more important part of the solution – begin to work on yourself. Begin to grow into that person that could attract the more ideal kind of love into your life. Begin to evolve, and grow into what we could call an emotionally mature person. This involves learning how to love the self and becoming conscious and aware at all times.

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