Recently while drinking my coffee, I ran across a Facebook comment that made me sad. It was on an article that I wrote about love myths.
The commenter wrote:
“I’m not even sure I believe in love anymore. It’s not for everyone.”
It makes sense to not want a relationship with the wrong person, absolutely— I’ll stand by that all day long. But to not want love? At all? Even some kind of remote long distance arrangement with a lot of alone time?
Does. Not. Compute.
I wish this kind of mindset was rare. Maybe you can relate to feeling disappointed, hardened or wronged by relationships like this woman. I can relate, I’ve felt like relationships were hopeless in the past too.
The common-ness of this particular brand of hopeless is confirmed by the fact that people email me all day long with emails where their focus is on the exact wrong thing if they want attract love. Like this, “Elizabeth, I know I’m a great person— a total catch. But I don’t understand why I haven’t been able to crack this relationship thing. I keep meeting the same people over and over again.”
“Why do my relationships keep crashing and burning, I know I deserve better, but I can’t seem to attract anyone good. What’s wrong with me?”
“Where have all of the good men/women gone. I feel like they’re all out for one thing (whatever that “one thing” happens to be).”
Others read my advice and say things like:
“Yeah well it would be so great if we could all just do that, but it’s really about OUR CHILDHOOD.”
“My relationship would be better if my husband/wife didn’t do all of these things…”
What do all of these statements have in common?
Somewhere in there, there’s a story that people tell themselves about either love, who they are or both that prevents them from opening up to the gorgeous, glorious possibilities.
Possibilities of what, you ask?
An amazing relationship.
That the love they deserve is out there.
That they’re enough, already.
That their partner is enough already.
The problem with these false beliefs is that they distract us from attracting and maintaining something really good. Why?
Because they focus on the wrong thing. The story is about what they don’t have instead of what they really WANT instead.
Ever do this? Ever heard yourself saying the destructive things above?
If so, you’re not alone. It’s not your fault, because if you’ve experienced any loss at all, ever, it’s human to look for a reason that something painful happened or something to blame hurt on. The problem starts when we incorporate whatever we gleaned from the situation into our psyche as a reason why we aren’t deserving of what we really want.
When a relationship ends, we don’t always sit down and rationally take inventory of what’s happened. We look for more, for something else, for a magic wand to make it feel better.
We want to get them back, never see them again, find someone else, eat too much or too little, drink too much, numb out to dull the pain.
But unless we’re exceptionally self aware, we often gravitate toward the exact opposite of what would actually help— namely, looking at the whole thing objectively, forgiving them (and ourselves) and ONLY THEN doing an inventory of what about that particular pairing DIDN’T WORK.
Without teary recrimination.
Without making it their fault, because of our childhood or because we said “that thing” or whatever.
And because we don’t often take this time to examine what happened, own our part and let it go, we’re doomed to repeat the pattern or cast around for the extreme opposite of whatever we perceived that other person to be (for better or worse). It’s only AFTER working through it and letting all of this baggage can we gain better understanding that we can think about what kind of person we want to be in relationship with.
So What Do You Do About This?
Forgive, forgive, forgive and try again AFTER you feel better.
The best way I know how, I’ve borrowed from Joe Vitale, who adapted it from a Hawaiian practice called Hoʻoponopono.
The basic gist is to go through your relationship memories and heal them using forgiveness. It’s simple and it works. Get a piece of paper or open a new document and write down every painful memory that pops ups when you think about love and relationships. Include as many memories that surface.
Once you have a list of 5-10 in front of you, read the memory and say out loud “I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me.” Then cross it off the list and move to the next memory.
It doesn’t matter what goes on your list. These experiences can be monumental like a divorce or they can seem trivial and insignificant, like the time in third grade when you had a crush on someone and they made fun of you. If it comes up for you, write it down and forgive it anyway. Any memory is game.
The idea is to feel the feelings, forgive the other person, forgive yourself and allow yourself to move on.
You might feel a little silly but you’ll find that after you do this, whatever memory you forgave will have a much less strong pull on you.
Now you might feel like forgiving is a real stretch— especially if you’ve been seriously hurt. It’s essential though. You don’t have to drive over to their house or let them back in your life. You just have to be able to let go of the pain, blame and resentment with love.
Then you’re free to think about the amazing relationship YOU DO WANT. And isn’t that more fun anyway? Yep, I thought so.
Try it. Let me know how it goes.