The Definition of Love

relationship, marriage, man, woman, single, God, Bible

I heard the best definition of love: “sacrifice for the spiritual growth of one’s self and another.” So, love is all about growth. Love is also about acceptance: accepting your partner exactly as he is and not hoping to change him. Love is also unconditional. Love and abuse cannot co-exist. I haven’t been in love (even though I’ve said the words) because I never accepted any of my partners as they were, I never cared about their growth, spiritual or otherwise, and I didn’t know the meaning of unconditional. Even though I’ve been hurt alot, I realize I’ve been pretty selfish in what I wanted out of a relationship and that may have had something to do with my results.

They say whatever you want, do that. If you want to receive, give first. If you want certain qualities in a partner, embody those qualities. Love yourself first, and the world will love you back. Until very recently I wasn’t sure about the meaning of self-love and now I am beginning to understand. Do nice things for yourself and be easy on yourself. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can. Don’t berate yourself. Speak to yourself the way you would want a loving parent to speak to you. Especially if your parents were neglectful or abusive, it’s important to learn to nurture yourself. I am just now learning to love myself and it feels nice!

Women with an aversion to nice men

wife, husband, marriage, relationship, single womanThe words of Rumi above spoke to me because I’ve learned on my journey that the best way to improve the world is to improve yourself. It’s also the best way to get ready for a relationship. I’ve been working on myself incessantly and I now realize the importance of self-love and self-care. I’ve replaced feelings of loneliness with a desire to nurture myself and be easy on myself, to take time for myself and treat myself they way I’d want someone else to treat me.

I saw a therapist today to discuss my penchant for unavailable men and while she was asking me questions about my relationship history, I realized with astounding clarity that I have left every man (or boy) who tried to be nice to me. I have been patently incapable of being sexually attracted to a man who treated me decently. It didn’t matter how handsome or amazing he was, if he was nice I walked. And that’s something they say about women like us – we have an aversion to nice men. The therapist also said we tend to pick the same partners over and over again unless we are extremely conscious about doing the work to change that imprinting. So, let’s begin!

Love addiction stems from childhood trauma

The gifted speaker in this Youtube video confirms that love addiction often occurs in people who grew up in alcoholic/drug addicted homes or with emotionally and/or physically abusive parents. My mother was alcoholic with borderline personality disorder. Love addiction often occurs in people who lived in homes where their emotional needs weren’t met. Love is the drug that attempts to fill a hole which is actually a childhood wound that needs to be examined and healed.

Shame, a film about sex addiction

Shame came out on DVD today. The film by director Steve McQueen stars Michael Fassbender as Brandon, a sex addict living in New York. I used to laugh at the idea of being addicted to sex – how ridiculous! Now I realize sex can be just like any other addiction – when you use something outside of yourself to fill a hole that only God can fill. The fellow in the movie was obsessed with sex, having daily encounters with strangers and prostitutes, consuming constant pornography both at home and at work, and masturbating several times a day at home and work. Ironically, even though he was swapping fluids with strangers, he was compulsively clean: a germophope. And fittingly for a sex addict he had no real intimacy in his life. When the opportunity came to have sex with someone he cared for he couldn’t get it up! Immediately he went and had sex with a stranger in a high-risk encounter. He was hooked on illicit sex but sex with any tenderness was impossible.

Brandon’s sister who has her own issues (perhaps alcoholism) comes to stay with him and turns his perfectly ordered life upside down. she speaks my favourite line in the film when she says to him: “We’re not bad people; we just come from a bad place.” To me, that ties into childhood traumas and how they can cause pain so deep that addictions seem the only way out.

Why do people lie?

My friend called me the other night in tears because she had discovered someone she was seeing was seeing other people. She wasn’t even #1 – more like #3. A few hints revealed the betrayal: the Victoria’s Secret bag she found in his room and her excitedly awaiting her lingerie gift which never came. His refusing to let her take off his t-shirt during sex even though it was 90 degrees hot – when she put her hands under his shirt she felt the scratch marks on his back. If he wanted to be with other women, why had he told my friend the two of them were in an exclusive relationship? Why had he lied?

I had told this friend about my addiction to unavailable men and she said she thinks she is addicted to men who treat her like shit. Because in spite of his lies and disrespect, she still wants this man and it is taking everything she has not to text him. She admitted to knowing she should be feeling angry and betrayed but she still finds it tremendously difficult to stay away from him. Now, let’s take a look at the definition of addiction: the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (I’d add detrimental – ed.) to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. Clearly, my friend is under the thumb of an addiction.

Over the past week or so since I discovered how serious my relationship troubles are, I’ve felt traumatized and even a little depressed. I’ve had to let go of the lie that a romance is going to rescue me from my life. It’s a subconscious lie I’ve been telling myself for a very long time and it’s caused me to live my life “in the meantime”. Yes, I’ve done a tremendous amount of work on myself since I took a vow of celibacy in August 2010 but I’ve still clung to the belief that finding the right partner was what I needed to make me feel right, that I wasn’t enough on my own. It’s a lie that is sold to us by all forms of media including movies, romance novels, love songs and the like.

That type of romance – love at first sight, can’t eat, can’t sleep – is better described as obsession rather than love.  Look at any popular media image of love: love involves great struggle and obstacles to be overcome. Love hurts. Love takes you away from your real life. Love is an escape. Real life love is actually the opposite of movie love: love is easy; love is kind; love is not a struggle; and love does not hurt. One of the few films that shows the “ever after” part of the Cinderella story (which ends at the wedding, by the way) is Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple who fall in love and then fall apart. The film captures the realism of a couple who never took the time to get to know themselves and could therefore never be any good for a partner.

I’m a person prone to extremes and it’s difficult for me to comprehend that love might feel good in an even-keel kind of way. As the daughter of an emotionally abusive mother and a distant father, feeling good does not feel like home to me. For me, the familiar is uncertain, unpredictable, unavailable, and unsupportive. Accepting that about my parents was too painful so I went into a pattern of denial which has continued to present day. It is only today, LITERALLY, that I am accepting the fact that some people lie. And sometimes they do it to me. I keep repeating the same phrase when someone lies to me: “But they said… But they said…” Guess what? They LIED. There’s no excuse for it and it’s not the end of the world. Lying happens. And sometimes it happens to me.

Are you attracted to unavailable men?

I have been away for a while and am touched to return to many lovely comments on my last post in which I wrote I have met a compatible man: one who has all the qualities I desire and who makes me feel like no one else. I have been working on myself relentlessly over the past year-and-a-half because I know that being your best and most authentic self is the way to attract someone worthwhile (and, hey, it’s the only way to be regardless of your intention).

After all my work, I attracted in a man who is everything I wanted – I dreamed him and he came true.

Although I adore him, I believe this man is unavailable. Do you know what I mean by unavailable? He may be married. He may be a workaholic. He may be a CIA agent. Whatever the reason, he has failed to call me on more than one occasion and then apologized after about an “emergency” that prevented him from connecting at the promised time. The first time was taking a colleague to the hospital and the second was unspecified. I sense red flags and my newly-honed intuition is saying ‘stop’.

I’ve learned over the past year or so that if something unfortunate happens to me I must have had something to do with it. What is my part in this situation? I believe, lovely readers, that I was enjoying the feelings I was experiencing so much that I did not ask the questions I needed to ask and I ignored the red flags that would indicate this man is taken….either by another woman or his high-achieving job (perhaps both).

I’ve also learned (from this experience specifically) that actions speak louder than words. I was in love with the things he was saying to me and the way he made me feel, but in reality, his actions did not back those up. He is still contacting me and I am still remaining open…but I’m also open to other men and know that I must stand by my boundaries and stay true to my new standards: no unavailable men and no secrets.

My dating life: is God having a laugh?

I am beginning to wonder if the time is still not right for me to be in a relationship. Or maybe God has a few more lessons for me to learn before I get there. I scheduled a second date with the guy I saw last week…I say ‘guy’ because I can’t call him a man – he’s a boy, young and a bit self-involved, but nice enough, so I want to give him three dates before I make any decision about him. He was at a tournament (he’s an athlete playing at the top tier of his game) so we were to go to a movie when he returned. He kept me up to date throughout the day which was thoughtful and they ended up going the whole distance, winning all their games, so I was happy for him.

Sadly, he didn’t make it back as the weather became very bad and they had to stop and stay for the night. He was extremely apologetic and it was out of his control but I just can’t help feeling that my dating life is getting ridiculous, that God is having a good laugh. I refuse to feel sorry for myself, but I am bewildered by my bad luck.

The other fellow I was interested in stopped talking to me because I expressed my need for him to contact me when he said he would. I waited until he had failed three times to fulfill his intention to call at a certain time and I was clear but certainly not mean in my email. I haven’t heard from him since. I suppose this is a weeding out process and as my friend says “This dating game is not for the faint of heart.” I’m developing a thick skin and I’m not sure if I like that.

Practical dating and texting

dating, relationship, single woman, men, marriage, God

The fellow with whom I had my “first” date last Friday definitely liked me because he texted me the next day to say hello. The fact that he won’t use the phone to dial my digits and call is an issue for me but at least I know where I stand with him. The thing I don’t like about text (and the reason I decided not to use it to communicate with men) is that it doesn’t tell you anything and it doesn’t go anywhere except on the occasion when it is misinterpreted as written communication is wont to be.

So the text conversation goes something like this:

Him: How are you doing tonight?

Me: Great thanks just getting home.

Him: What did you get up to?

Me: Spent time with some friends.

Him: What did you do, dinner or something?

Me: Just met up at someone’s place for a chat

Him: Sounds like a fun time

Etc.

What’s happening here is I’m getting more a feel for this guy and seeing he’s not the leader I need in a relationship. He does not take charge of the conversation and use it to find out more about me or take it in a direction that will help me know more about him. It is useless fluff. I refuse to lead the conversation and so it just fizzles out after going nowhere. The fact that he does not call also tells me something: either he is too lazy or lacks courage, both of which are unappealing.

What I’m learning now is that every experience with a man is an opportunity to find out more about what you want and don’t want, what feels good to you and what doesn’t. It is a journey of self-discovery. I never saw dating that way in the past. I would have been so busy trying to get him to like me that I would never had paid attention to any of these signals or had any idea what I really wanted. The new way is so much better for both of us because nobody is being manipulated or lied to, we are both just trying to get our needs met.

How 5 becomes 1

relationship, man, women, marriage, dating, match.com, husband, wife

I mentioned in my last post that 5 men were expressing interest in me, not to brag but to compare the way that feels now as opposed to then. Then it would have been an ego boost; now it represents a weeding out process. Today two have already demonstrated they are probably not the “man” for me. The first one gave me his phone number and told me to call or text him so we can get together. NO! You ask for my number and make the call because you are the man. I gave him my number instead so we’ll see what happens.

The second one just emailed me about a date Friday night and asked “So what do you want to do?” NO! You are the man, you tell me what we are doing and then maybe ask how I feel about that. Again, I threw it back to him. I regret that I did make a small suggestion that it be low key since it is a first date: I needn’t even be doing that if this is truly a weeding out process, but I am beginning to feel sorry for these men….which is definitely not the way to go into a relationship. I want a man I can look up to and respect and who will take the lead. It seems this type of man is incredibly hard to find.

The Single Woman

new kids on the block, relationship, marriage, men, women, dating, celibacy, abstinence, sex, God

“There is truth to the ‘just not that into you’ phenomenon. The more you accept that, the better off you are. Move on. Don’t think of striking out as a failure, or somebody not calling you as a failure…it’s just another step in finding somebody. Don’t fear rejection. Don’t put so much emphasis on it. It just may not be the right time or the right person. So what?” ~Jordan Knight via The Single Woman

I used to fear rejection so much that I’d do anything to avoid it, including having sex with someone I barely knew. Consciously, I didn’t realize I was seeking approval but in hindsight and after much self-improvement work, and nearly a year and a half of celibacy, I can see my motives clearly. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted because I was so busy trying to figure out what other people wanted, and altering myself to please them. It was truly soul-sucking and it wasn’t until I made a conscious effort to discover what made me tick – in other words what motivated me to do the things I did – that I could begin to change.

I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to realize I don’t want somebody who treats me poorly; I just wanted him to want me and it had very little to do with him as a person. He was more like a mirror to me of myself. If he rejected me, then I must not be lovable or acceptable. I had no inner core of wisdom to tell me I was fine on my own. For the past year and a half I have been on a mission to find self-love and I can honestly say I am finally there. Random thoughts run through my mind that say “You’re a lovely person” (and I am!) rather than “Loser!” or “You’re so stupid,” which is what my self-talk used to sound like.

If a man stops contacting me I don’t obsess on it or, heaven forbid, call him again. I know enough now to know that if a man wants to get in touch with you he will, even if it requires him to hire a private investigator – no lost phone number is going to stop him. Rather than fuming over a lack of attention, I acknowledge my need for a certain level of attention and if he can’t give it, he’s not the right one for me. Right now I have about 5 men interested in me. That would have been a big ego trip for me before, but now it is simply a weeding out process. 5 could easily and quickly become none. If he asks me what I want to do on the date, he’s probably not the one for me. If he doesn’t want to pick me up for the date, he’s not the one. If he goes three days without contacting me…not the one. I am learning what I want and don’t want in a man and it’s based on authentic desires rather than a desperate need to be accepted. I accept myself now, I really do.

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