To some, love may seem like the most important thing in life. To find a happy, stable relationship, and feel truly accepted for who we are.
Society often tells us that we should strive for such a thing in our lives – our movies, shows, and social media portray happy couples in loving embrace.
However, the reality is, this is not so easily achieved. And it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to relationships.
The truth is, love is messy. It is not a linear path to the top of the proverbial happy couple mountain. Often there are pitfalls and painful emotions to experiences along the way.
One of the common difficult experiences is that love might seem nice, but it is often very difficult to either give or receive.
On one side of the coin, we have narcissism – our own selfish wants and desires – that pulls us back into thinking about and caring about only ourselves.
This prevents us from truly caring about the humanity of another, especially our partner.
And on the other side, we often have a very hard time accepting love from another. This one is often less obvious, since we might assume that of course we would want positive attention from someone else. But the truth is, being willing to be loved can be very scary for many people.
In fact, I would go so far as to say some people avoid love and run from it when it shows up in a relationship.
So why does this happen?
- On a fundamental level, we can’t receive love if we don’t love ourselves. In other words, we have to believe that we deserve to be loved to be able to receive it.
- Being loved requires that we be vulnerable. Perhaps we opened ourselves up to someone in the past and got hurt. We learned to shut down our hearts and keep them closed.
- We didn’t receive love as a child. If as a child, your parents treated you poorly, it can be very unfamiliar and uncomfortable to be loved. So uncomfortable, in fact, that you would likely reject anyone that treated you well.
- We want to be in control. Falling in love means we start to share our hearts with someone else. To some extent, we give that person permission to influence our emotions. This can be quite scary to feel like we don’t have complete control.
Of course, no one is perfect. Our parents were not perfect, our past partners were not perfect, and we are not perfect. We all come up short when it comes to love.
But it does not mean we can’t improve and change. If we notice our hearts shutting down in the face of love, we can learn to open them, even if it’s scary.
We can take chances in love. We can risk being rejected and be vulnerable. And we can learn to set healthy self-loving boundaries with others.
We can be mindful of our hearts and learn to see what feels healthy and what does not.
And we can be compassionate and understanding to ourselves and others as we walk this journey together.
Until next time, much love,