I Love You; You're Free to Leave True love and painful goodbyes
Love songs, poems and stories focus on attraction, ignoring the beauties of complex bonds of connection. Lost in the emotion, the Cinderella fairy tales, we lose contact with what is real. We give priority to attraction and lose site of the security of intimate connection. We confuse love with crude biological drives. Do we seek sex or security? Love isn’t attraction. Attraction doesn’t require work; love does. Attraction just happens; we are naturally attracted to some people and repelled by others. Unfortunately, some attractions pull us towards the wrong people; People hazardless to our well-being. Instead of accepting faulty attraction, we stay put, agonized that our partner fails to provide security. We convince ourselves that we can change them, molding character traits to give us what we need without abandoning what we want.
Sociopaths and narcissist also experience attraction. They employ deceptive means to lure new victims into their isolated lives, giving nothing and taking all. The socially ill know little about love; their hearts limited in capacity. Love and attraction are not mutually exclusive; nor are they opposites. The silliness, euphoria, and overwhelming emotions that grace portrayals of love in the arts may also compliment the more lengthy process of creating love. Sometimes the object of our attraction may rebuff our advances. In these cases, the greatest act of love we can offer is to respectfully recognize their right to choose, deny fulfillment of our desire, and gracefully move on. Recognizing individual rights to direct their lives, we show respect and love.
The biological drive to mate is powerful—igniting strong emotions. From the flow emotions, surges attraction. Culture, experience and biology define the emotions and channels feeling drives into expressed behavior—a wink, a smile, puffing of the chest. Connection requires more than biological signals. Attraction and approach followed with testing for reciprocal feelings. The courageous approached may be rewarded or rebuffed, building or damaging self-esteem. The desired goal varies—non-committal sex or seeking a life-long partner—but stems from the underlying biological drives, later influenced by personal experience, and societal norms.
The driving force of desire, although biological ignited, isn’t necessarily followed with efficient action. We must learn within the boundaries of current conditions how to respond. Societal norms change rapidly outdating biologically evolved behaviors. Successful fulfillment of biological (and learned) urgings demand adjustments to smoothly integrate into the current environment. Our underlying emotions must be carefully managed, not blindly expressed.
Anger may address social injustice but also unmonitored motivate hateful revenge, wastefully destroying lives. Romantic desires inspire respectful connections but also may stir anxiety and obsession. The natural and burning attractions lie beneath both healthy and unhealthy actions, stirring kindness in one person and fear and anger in another. Stable partners, familiar with emotions, can soothe the wild ride of attraction, lessening the bumps and valleys, the euphoric highs and anxiety ridden lows that dot the attachment process. Healthy attachments springing from the initial attraction, when properly developed, lead to sustainable joy, enhancing security and expanded personal resources to face life’s challenges. Healthy relationships improve life.
Love is the mortar holding two people together. We wrongfully refer to love as something we have or don’t. But love comes in degrees. We proclaim, “He loves me,” or “she doesn’t love me.” While proclamations of love spark sentimentalities, the proclamations oversimplify the complexities of healthy connection. Love extends beyond simply professing, “I love you.” Love describes behaviors—loving behaviors. All relationships have a mix of loving and non-loving behaviors—selfishness and sacrifice. Strong relationships involve more compassionate, caring and kind behaviors than unhealthy self-driven relationships.
The anxiety, obsessions, and anger triggered during attraction must be quelled in healthy ways. These emotions destroy closeness when given freedom to dictate behavior. Relationships, instead of shared intimacy, become battle grounds for control. Interaction instead of elevating the soul, constantly measured for power, beating the others self-esteem down to ensure personal control of direction.
Although often driven for security—a righteous goal, the means used to obtain security is flawed. Compassion, caring and kindness engenders security—creating closeness. Forced security requires constant attention paradoxically never rewarding with the security sought. A selfishly driven pursuit of a relationship (to fulfill selfish desires) ignores the other person’s individuality, seeing the other as an object to own. Love is not found here. Love respects freedom, treating others with dignity. Freedom implies the right of others to pursue or abandon continued contact.
Rejection is painful; it hurts self-esteem. Allowing a (potential) partner to leave is a difficult concept to understand through the self-serving lenses; in the world of the narcissist, other’s feelings, desires, and dreams don’t exist. Therefore, the only emotions involved, driving behavior, belong to the self. The object of obsession resisting, or even rejecting, the suitor becomes an obstacle to overcome instead of an independent choice to respect. This is not love. This is not intimacy. But this ugliness invades too many relationships, making lives miserable.
Where is personal accountability? You act like a muttonhead and browbeat a partner into staying by constantly demeaning their worth and limiting their options.
Love encourages a partner’s growth—even when that growth leads to greater independence. We have dreams that we chase. Sometimes a partner’s (or prospective partner’s) dreams differ; not all futures mix. These conflicting hopes can only be discovered through open communication. In the light of awareness, conflicting dreams can be addressed and sometimes resolved. But if difference sparks insecurity, fear and anger, the doors to intimacy shut. Lives separate, secrecy prevails. Love—surprisingly —not only creates intimacy but also may invite separation. True love doesn’t demand conformity to our rules and our dreams; but allows, and even actively supports personal growth, respecting a partner’s individual hopes and desires. True love exposes vulnerability to the chosen paths of others.
"Forced security requires constant attention paradoxically never rewarding with the security sought."
Allowing a partner to grow shakes the security of sameness; the change elicits fear. Growth ignites insecurities, "Will their growth take them away?" Many discourage growth to protect the relationship. We might not consciously oppose but subtle reactions discourage a partner’s pursuit of new opportunities. A notable example of fear is when partners alienate each other from family, friends and outside connections; usually not a conscious diabolical plan but a subtle reaction to fear. Love doesn’t guarantee a partner will not leave. Subtly destructive behaviors slip into our protective arsenal; manipulations replace respect, anger replaces requests, and fear replaces security.
A critical manipulation that limits freedom early in relationships is restricting information—lying or purposely withholding. We don’t need to bring five-years of tax returns and a criminal rap sheet to the first coffee date. But some information exchange is essential. A date, even a first date is entitled to know of relationship entanglements. When we begin moving forward into a relationship, both involved parties have a right to know the intents of the other. If other relationships, children, or pesky family members will intrude on the relationships these complications must be revealed. Each date, email, and phone call furthers the investment. Before surrendering our hearts, we should be given sufficient information to make an intelligent choice.
Adding to the complicated field of romance is the modern day reach of the web. Relationships no longer restricted by geography must combat new threats. Restricting information is common with long-distant relationships. The distance is amicable to secrets. Vast information can be concealed—other relationship entanglements, appearance, addictions, and finances. A criminal stealing time from the unscrupulous lonely hearts on the net, concealing pertinent information, the thief intrudes on lives, makes promises, while withholding true intentions. They want the excitement of love without the drudgery of commitment, benefiting from the relationship, while dragging the hapless through the unknown. This isn’t love. Love isn’t built on foundations of deceit. The deceitful internet lover manipulates rational choice by sanitized information. These relationships are limited, intimacy beyond reach, stretching false hopes over months, years and even decades. The stability of the relationship rests on continuation of a lie. The strung along victim is not given the respect to know the truth and make a decision whether or not to continue in the face of the facts. When truth is concealed, even when love is given, the deceiver can only partially receive the gift. The knowledge of the underlying deceit diminishes the security, knowing the relationship is built on a lie; the love is tainted.
Many of these deceitful relationships operate from the unconscious belief that some love is better than no love. Maybe this is true. Sometimes both parties benefit from a limited relationship. But true intimacy seldom forms from the destructive ashes of deceit. The protection of self through partial revelations keeps insecurity alive; infused with drama and fear the relationship never completely satisfies, constantly leaning on hopes of an unforeseen future. The secrets accumulate, lies protect lies, and the house of cards readies itself for a dramatic ending. Even a late revelation of truth destroys, revealing only enough to string the victim along for another month. Often when the deception is courageously revealed, the false images that dreams were built on have taken a toll; the revelations may be too late and too little, inviting the rejection the lies were designed to prevent.
Openness doesn’t guarantee intimacy but loving behavior demands openness, respecting a perspective partner’s freedom to choose. Deception may prolong a relationship in a limited capacity. We offer ourselves in vulnerability, exposing the softness of our heart, but also offering the gift of respect. If our true selves are continually rejected, we may have some deeper soul searching to do, examining social cues scaring off suitors, and working to develop a kinder, gentler soul.
Watch yourself closely. Identify the emotions—fears, joys, and anger. Catch derailing justifications following obnoxious sabotaging behaviors. I can’t promise that love will prevent a partner from leaving but I can promise that manipulation will prevent intimacy from arriving. “I love you, this is me; you are free to leave.”