If you approach relationships in fear of getting hurt, you will soon find people who will hurt you. If you approach a relationship in anger, it is certain that you will find someone that will annoy and infuriate you.
And yet, so many people do this. Why? Because they have a split within themselves.
On the one hand, they want love and don’t want to miss out on the opportunity for love. On the other hand, they are cagey about giving love. They don’t want to give love to the wrong person. They don’t want someone to have anything over them. They are afraid to shack up with someone they will grow to hate.
This internal divide isn’t going to benefit you and it certainly won’t benefit the other person. Not only will you find someone who is as fearful as you, you will both be subconsciously sabotaging the relationship and the potential for love.
Then when the dust settles, fingers are pointed, another painful relationship is recorded in the books and that inner ache for love continues to go unfulfilled.
The opportunity to show love to someone you truly value is an awesome feeling! When you listen to your favorite song or you watch your favorite scene from a movie, it sparks something inside of you.
But when you first heard the song or watched the movie, you weren’t in a mode of scrutiny or judgment. You just let the stimuli wash over your senses, and you enjoyed yourself.
If we want to enjoy our relationships, we have to do the same when it comes to people.
We’re so quick to say how much we love animals, but we hate people. We’re eager to share our favorite food, take the special scenic route and play our favorite games. But because of past pains with human beings, we have a love/hate relationship with them.
You know where the solution lies. We’ve got to address that love/hate divide we have within ourselves and decide to stick to one side.
The way to do this brings to mind the parable of the two wolves.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good — he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
The original version of this seems to come from a Billy Graham book and referenced an Eskimo fisherman with two dogs. Nevertheless, the moral is the same.
If you want virtuous things in yourself and your life, you have to feed the good and virtuous things inside you. Specifically in this context, you have to make the decision to give love and to approach relationships accepting someone as they present themselves.
This is important because the red flags that we often ignore or even miss cannot be ignored or missed if we are truly taking in this person as they are.
Then we can decide how close we want to be with this person.
What usually happens is that we approach relationships partly in the hope of love, partly in fear and then we meet someone who is exactly that — they inspire both love and fear; they have these great traits but they also make the connection pretty difficult to maintain.
Take a look at your relationships. The people you are closest to are those you met without the fear that they could screw you over. This is one reason people enjoy friendships more than romantic relationships.
It’s hard to give love when you’re afraid someone is going to ruin your life. It’s even harder to know how to gauge someone when you have this fear but still need love. Your risk assessment is crap.
This is why we need to put an end to the “all men/women are trash” rhetoric. If this is something you believe, you’re only shooting yourself in the foot. If the sex/gender you’re attracted to is so bad, good luck trying to be with them!
Respect yourself enough to respect others. Take your attention off of past pains and place it in the delight of giving love.
If you must put your attention on past pains, do it in a mindful way. Do it because you want to give your inner child the opportunity to grieve and to let the pain bleed out.
I can attest to how therapeutic this is. We often feel like we have to be strong, even as children. But if we let ourselves feel bad about what happened, cry or journal how we feel, there’s an immense relief that comes.
If you are especially against giving love because you’re fearful of getting hurt, I highly recommend doing this. Nothing is more natural than giving love and the only way you could think you had anything to lose is because you experienced a loss that you never fully grieved.
You lost someone that couldn’t give you the love you needed. That’s not a bad thing. It’s an opportunity.
So let yourself grieve, let yourself be free and welcome a sense of peace you may have forgotten. Take that peace into your relationships and marvel at the people who now bring their peace for you.
Love as if you have nothing to lose, because by doing so you have everything to gain.