I’ve been going through a summer of learning, where I’ve felt inspired to pick a topic to focus on – learn as much as I can on it through various media and then blogging about my experiences here. It is my hope that these reflections, observations and thoughts will help you in some way.
One of the biggest topics that I’ve been exploring is that of strengthening and building the Self, from inside out and seeing how these shifts in perspectives and energy will impact upon and improve various areas of my life. Today’s thoughts are on love!
“True Love is hard to find” is probably an oft-uttered phrase from those around you. Many of us think that love is this elusive thing, and popular culture and the media will reinforce that. All the songs and movies about unrequited love, toxic af love (super popular in our current society), lust/infatuation/crushes, fwbs/situationships, casual sex/hookups…that is anything and everything else but love it isn’t.
Is it any surprising with the perpetuation of all these materials that most of us struggle to define love is? We’ve probably not seen many examples growing up either.
Before we explore what true love actually is though, let’s expand abit more on why finding love in our current society is a constant struggle for so many of us.
Why is love eluding us in today’s society?
We all have our own individual reasons for why we feel like we can’t find love or why relationships don’t seem to work out. We are, after all, built differently. But I’ve long observed that at the end of the day, when someone isn’t happy in their relationship or are unable to find the love they think they deserve, it always boils down to at least one (usually more) of the below reasons:
#1 So many of us don’t know ourselves well at all
Take a minute and think about yourself for a moment. In fact let’s answer the following questions:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What makes you angry, sad, happy, content, disappointed, under-valued, appreciated, grateful, safe, inspired?
- What are your personal values? Relationship values?
- What are your relationship dealbreakers, red flags?
- Do you know what you want in life and how to get there?
These are just scratching the tip of the iceberg, there are so many things we could unpack about ourselves. How many of the above questions can you confidently answer? Granted, some of these questions aren’t like, coffee-chat questions and you won’t be getting the answers in a 10 minute journaling sesh. These things have to be digested for a couple of months, years even.
Are you great at sniffing out red flags in a relationship? Find out below!
These questions are actually a measure of how well you truly know yourself, how much self-awareness you’ve built over time. Of truly knowing ourselves inside-out. Because it is when we know ourselves, that we know how to discern what we truly want in life.
We will know which romantic partners are good for us, what friendships are aligned, we will know how to get to where we want in life, it will be so much easier to tune out what others are telling you that you “should” be doing – because you already have the answers yourself.
But, most of us just haven’t really developed that level of self-awareness. It takes effort and time to get to know yourself, and you need to put in the work.
#2 We have so much of toxic love patterns & baggage we haven’t gotten rid of
So many of us have so much emotional baggage and inner gunk and junk we just carry around in our lives, never really offloading them, dragging all of them from one relationship to the next.
You have people who are perpetually hung up over an ex, crushing on people who don’t even know them, engaging in fantasy relationships, cheating, having affairs etc. There are just so many people doing all of that and more who are also in relationships, that to me, it’s more the norm than the exception.
So many of us have toxic love patterns that we are subconsciously or consciously aware of, but have done nothing much to heal and overcome that.
Toxic love patterns can take any form – being emotionally unavailable, falling for unavailable people, engaging in fantasy relationships, not having boundaries, going for people who trigger your childhood trauma, not being able to emotionally express or communicate your needs, overly investing in people you don’t know yet. So on.
The thing about toxic love patterns and baggage is that it requires some deep soul searching and accountability. We need to be able to look at ourselves and see how we are contributing to our relationship issues. Turning a blind eye will just mean we continue to perpetuate these unhealthy relationships.
As long as we keep dragging our baggage and toxic love patterns around, we will always find ourselves meeting the same types of problematic men, just different forms/sizes and different types of issues.
#3 We let the wrong people come into our lives because of the “wrong” reasons
Many people get into relationships or fall in “love” for the wrong reasons. We do not heal ourselves or find peace, love, safety or kindness within ourselves, and yet we try to get it from another person.
You will hear of people who will get into relationships just because the person is “nice” to them, gives them attention, because they want companionship, because they are afraid of being lonely, because they have sexual needs etc. None of that has to do with love.
We end up letting people in who are just not good for us. People leave their energetic imprints on our lives, so we need to be careful who we are letting in. In many cases, we let in people that cause all sorts of damage to our emotional and mental well-being – they bring in abuse, cheating, emotional unavailability, poor emotional expression, bad boundaries and everything else in between.
If anything, we need to be discerning about who these people are and be clear about the reasons we are letting them in. We need to start gatekeeping the access someone has to our lives, our bodies and our emotions. Some people just don’t belong in our lives, and once we start finding the right reasons to be in relationships, lots of these people will actually start falling away.
#4 We expect others to fulfill all our romantic expectations and reducing people to adjectives.
Many of us have a long list of criteria that we want our ideal partner to fulfill. Long af list. But have we ever stopped to think if we are actually even behaving that way ourselves first? If you are looking for things like compassion, kindness, care, love, safety etc.
Are you that way to others too? Are you that way to yourself?
Having romantic standards that you want other people to live up to when you aren’t living up to it yourself screams double standards and hypocrisy.
We not only have such sky-high expectations for others that we never apply to ourselves, but we don’t measure others and ourselves on the right qualities either. We focus way too much on the superficial, instead of focusing on the tone of the relationship and how you feel around that person.
Also, people have a tendency to reduce others to just adjectives, I need him to be “funny, smart, talented, passionate, inspiring…”. And we go out and date and get disappointed when someone doesn’t check off all those adjectives for us.
True love is alot more than a combination of traits that you see in someone.
#5 Our society has become so transactional relationship-wise
And yes, a large part of the blame lies with the rise of technology, online dating/apps. There are so many of us who are so socially awkward, we find it hard to speak to others, let alone make friends, let alone date. And then we complain about feeling lonely.
Loneliness is a societal epidemic in every single country, it’s actually scary. Humans can’t really be alone all the time, we are social creatures. But more and more, our social communities and networks are shrinking, people don’t want to take the time to nurture friendships anymore.
Mini story to illustrate this – I used to have a really good friend, we had alot of fun together, and we were there for each other across various events and situations. But the friendship fell apart because.. She’d rather spend time at home watching YouTube and reading up on celebs instead of chatting or hanging out. Like her schedule centred around that. And, sorry, but how are you going to be forming friendships and being part of communities when you are always avoiding people and staying home? It doesn’t add up.
Also with dating apps, people are now sizing each other up based on very superficial characteristics, there’s the problem of false choice and we are in a society where we are so focused on what others are doing for us and what are they bringing to the table. Instead of asking ourselves, what are we really bringing to the table and what can we do for others.
When relationship building becomes transactional and when we start sizing others up based off specific characteristics, it becomes hard to really build a deeper, more intimate connection. Top it all off with bad people are at nurturing human interactions these days.. Well, is it any surprise that we are all so lonely?
#6 Most of what we define as love isn’t love. Enter Carthexis
Listen to any song or ask anyone what their definition of love is. And they will most likely tell you, oh it’s having the same interests, spending lots of time together, pouring out my soul to them, going through “lots” together, seeing them in different situations and with different people, caring for them when they are sick etc etc.
But none of these is actually love. Alot of what we define as love in our society is actually carthexis. American psychiatrist Scott Peck coined the term which essentially means “the investment of feelings and emotional energy into a person”.
In our society we define love as spending alot of time together, pouring all of our energy, trauma, thoughts and feelings onto someone else. And over time, this breeds resentment, irritation, abuse, ignorance, disappointment, disrespect and more. There are too many emotions and feelings at stake, with many people seeing love as conditional and transactional, hence it is difficult to seek out a healthy, reciprocal type of love that endures the test of time.
What then is love?
Bell Hooks defines it as “The will to extend one’s self to nurture one’s own or another’s spiritual growth”. It’s about putting yourself second to foster someone else’s growth
That is not to say that if you don’t reach this level of love with someone, means that you don’t care for them or feel affection for them.
Love is so much more than just care and affection. It’s made of a ton of ingredients – trust, commitment, no judgment, compassion, boundaries, healthy communication, honesty, intimacy.. So many frigging things.
Love is such a pure, selfless energy, with no conditions or strings attached, where you want to see your partner become the best person they can ever be and support them in their journey – and them, you – whilst you simultaneously aren’t twisting yourself into a pretzel to fit their needs or bringing your exes and your baggage into your dynamic to ruin things.. YET are still able to be the truest version of yourself and step into your own power.
Tough huh? Absolutely. And you know what? Most of us will probably never experience this in our lives. Ever.
It takes alot of will, self-acceptance, accountability, courage and effort to not only be the person that others will fall in love with, but that you yourself with fall in love with too.
But we can all start somewhere though.
Start by creating love from within
I’m a firm believer that if you really want something in your life. For example, if you really want a pure type of love where both of you grow together as individuals, if you want it bad enough, you’d do whatever it takes to make it happen.
And even if you don’t experience the soul type of love that bell hooks spoke about, it’s okay, because whatever work that you’ve done on yourself, however you’ve loved yourself will start to radiate out in your life in fascinating ways.
Be the change that you want to see in others. If you want someone to show you kindness and compassion, start doing the same to others, start doing the same for you. Speak to yourself kindly, give yourself space and boundaries for self-care rituals, eat regular meals, shift away from your old and unhelpful beliefs and practices.
Start being the person you want to fall in love with. Start holding yourself to the same standards that you’d hold others too. This work of self-love isn’t just for drawing in new suitors and manifesting great romance. It’s ultimately about being the best version of yourself and seeing how that shifts the way you start connecting with other humans too.
When you start treating yourself amazingly well, it shifts you into this energetic space where you find it so easy to be the same to others.
And that’s how you start to get closer to that true love that you’ve been dreaming of. You ready?