I’ve written about love many times, particularly in respect to recognising that we often profess to love others unconditionally without loving ourselves, we often mistake the pain we feel in our relationships as a measure of how much we must love the other person, and how we project our love onto others expecting how we feel to be reflected back.
When guest poster Trish shared her painful experience and sobering healing advice with readers last week after being let down by the lies and coldness of a disrespectful Mr Unavailable who kept her guessing each year about whether they’d spend Christmas together whilst inviting the ex wife and ex girlfriend around, one line from commenter AJ jumped out at me:
“I couldn’t fathom the notion of this being intentional surely the man I love wouldn’t treat me this way.”
I always thought that when I fell in love, I’d be on cloud nine, skipping through fields (OK not really) but feeling swept up in a tide of reciprocated feelings. Instead, the first boy I fell in love with barely acknowledged my existence, and the subsequent (mostly assclowns and Mr Unavailables) that I fell for (or at least thought I did) had me quickly languishing in a world of mixed signals and ambiguity, where often I would be uninterested, they’d chase me, I’d ‘give in’ and get swept up in all their big declarations and gestures, only for the tables to get turned on me.
Our feelings are not always reciprocated.
It’s sh*t, it hurts, and it feels like an injustice that the object of your affections doesn’t feel the same, but feeling like you love someone doesn’t land the other person with obligations or an IOU.
It’s not ‘I’m crazy about you so you must be crazy about me too’ – You’re two separate entities.
The reality is that if you’re attracted to each other and it goes beyond superficial stuff, there is strong character, shared values, and a respect for boundaries with decent relationship habits, along with love, trust, and care, you can stand a decent chance.
But you both need to want it, feel it, respect it, need it, with both of your feet in.
What you want, need, expect, and feel may not be what they want, need, expect, and feel.
A key mistake that we can make in our relationships and dalliances with men is to become so lost in our own feelings for them that we lose sight of reality and forget to sanity check whether the other party is on the same page.
We feel so in love and see such wonderful things that we assume that that they should feel that way and see the same things.
For a start, it’s unrealistic to expect someone to act, feel, need, want, and expect the way that you do as it’s an unrealistic expectation of a ‘soulmate’ and will no doubt create friction when they stop being or doing these things.
It’s also important to remind ourselves that they may not want or even ‘need’ your love and may perceive you as throwing your love at them or even ramming it down their throat.
When your feelings become all encompassing, you lose sight of reality and because you believe that all you want is to be loved and how better and different your life will be as a result of it, you assume that surely with you telling the other person that you love them and trying to be and do everything for them, that surely they’ll reciprocate your feelings right? Wrong…
You cannot always judge people based on your own actions, especially if you don’t cross reference the reality of their actions against what you believe or know that you would do.
I’ve had so many women say to me stuff like ‘I would never treat someone like that!’ or ‘I know that if I were behaving that way, I’d want someone to tell me the error of my ways’ or ‘I know that my feelings would be hurt if someone called me on something so I feel like I should be understanding’.
You may never do a lot of things but that doesn’t mean that others won’t.
If you have poor love habits, it’s time to realise that you cannot judge people on those merits and that you need to take off your rosetinted glasses because people will and are taking advantage of you.
There’s no point languishing in disbelief as someone is actually doing or being something and saying ‘But I wouldn’t…’
If you know that you wouldn’t do it and they are doing it, this is a major sign in itself that something is wrong and it’s likely to be a crossing of your boundaries.
In trying to fill voids and get validated about specific things, many of you will find yourselves having very specific ideas about how you think you’ll feel and what will happen and when you become involved with someone, you’ll pursue those feelings without sanity checking whether you actually want this person, whether they’re ‘right’ for you, giving you what you need, respecting your boundaries etc.
You have to be careful of going out there and throwing your love at people in the hope of getting it reflected back to you.
If you’re not stepping out with a healthy setup of personal love, you’ll gravitate to people that reflect the negatives that you believe about yourself, love, and relationships.
If you don’t keep it real and ensure that your feelings are grounded in reality with a person who is acting with love, trust, care, and respect, you’ll be so immersed in the glow of your feelings that you’ll believe that it affects the other persons ability to treat you badly.
Hard as it may be to hear, telling someone you loved them has never stopped them from behaving as they want to. People do lie and even though they have no long term intentions, they can use you if it suits their short or medium term gain.
If they don’t have their two feet in the relationship you think you’re in with them, and they don’t value you or your feelings, respect you, and feel true love or care, they’ll do whatever the hell they want to do and think that you must have little regard for yourself if you’re acting like a person in a loving relationship when they have shown that they are not what you think they are.
By pursuing validation and being so eager to feel loved, often without true regard for the quality of man or relationship, we ride with our pattern, get the few cues that we need, and then run with our feelings, often without checking to see if the other person is on board.
The key is not to decide that you can’t trust anyone because that’s more of a reflection of the fact that you can’t trust yourself.
Many of the women I’ve corresponded with realised that being empowered and learning how to trust themselves came from taking action and standing by decisions, instead of being immobilised by helplessness and second guessing themselves.
Just like when I talked about future fakers yesterday, if you don’t keep it real and get lost in your own feelings, not only will your relationship be an illusion but you won’t even be going out with them – you’ll be going out with projections of what’s in your head.
You have to be the security guard of your own relationship. If you don’t trust yourself, your intuition and your instincts because you’re too busy living in lala land, you’ll be the security guard that’s having crimes taking place underneath your nose, either because you’re falling asleep on the job or you’re looking elsewhere.
I remember in the movie ‘Boomerang’ when Halle Berry’s character says ‘Love should have brought your ass home last night’, or something to that effect, after Eddie’s character has slept with Robin Given’s behind her back.
So-called love on its own is not enough and doesn’t change people, especially those who have no impetus or desire to change and who aren’t in the relationship in the way that you are. Yes love should have brought his ass home that night, but if he’d had any respect for her or himself, he would have done. Love is a wonderful thing but you’ll find yourself with a better chance of it if you stop being attracted to men (or women) who are all talk, very little action, and who offer the least likely prospects for commitment as it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and wondering why it’s all busted up.
Particularly at this time of year where you might be thinking ‘I know that if I was in love, I’d want to spend every moment with them over Christmas/the holidays’ or ‘I know that if I hadn’t heard from him for several months, I’d want to hear from them now’ or ‘If I don’t call/text/email/send a card to him or his mum then he’ll think I’m not interested because that’s what I’d think’, hold that thought and step back for a moment.
Is this based on you? Or is this based on the real him? Sanity check whatever you’re thinking against their past behaviour to get some real perspective.
At the end of the day, if you act with love, care, respect, and trust, and you get something entirely different, you’re not on the same page. If you act with love towards yourself, you’re likely to discover that you don’t feel the ‘love’ you thought you did for them.
Remember what I’ve said before – If loving someone means that I can’t love myself and have to sideline me and disrespect my own boundaries, I’ll take loving myself.
It’s also better to have loved and lost than to have loved someone and persisted in the illusion, never accepting the reality and giving yourself a chance to opt out and live and love.