Far too many people have the notion that in order to find and keep love in our lives, we must first abandon our authentic selves to become some version of whatever the other person wants us to be. Most of us, at some point, learned this was a good idea – maybe from our parents, from our friends, as kids, or even later in our adult lives. However it happened, most of us are imprinted with the belief that love has to be earned—or, at minimum, looks a certain way. (IE. I do this or that and then you’ll love me.) Dr. Helen Fisher, whom I greatly esteem, calls this your love map.
What Is A Love Map?
And I strongly recommend you learn what your love map looks like – Intimately! Otherwise you end up falling victim to the unconscious loop that most of us repeat over and over, and NOT in a good way. Here are some fateful patterns I’ve seen far too often: you always attract people who cheat, are narcissists, are abusive, have no drive, are alcoholic or addicted to pornography, or perhaps they just can’t seem to tell the truth about anything (especially when it comes to where they have been and who with); and the list literally goes on and on.
Making the distinction between who I am being (my persona or inauthentic self) and my true self (or authentic self) is the first step in the process of awakening, which leads to the eventual shift from unconsciously and reflexively choosing the same type of relationship over and over again.
Over the last 25 years of working in the personal development industry I have learned some amazing things, some absolutely life-altering truths that have become creed because they were ultimately irrefutable (true whether or not I believed them).
What Is NOT Love?
Few rival my understanding of what love is NOT:
Chemistry is not love. Chemistry is…well…chemistry.
Desire is not love. Hmmm, yeah, it’s more like being addicted to the feeling of wanting something you can’t have, so you set yourself up again and again to feel it!
Longing is also not love!
Feeling lovesick isn’t love either. Confusing this with love most likely can be traced back to a love map laced with abandonment issues.
Infatuation, often confused with love, is a strong psychological projection onto the love object.
Lust, hmmm, a biological function designed to procreate. (Period.)
Abuse, definitely NOT. Usually a direct connection to our low- or no-self-esteem!
Neglect, no, not love either. There’s always time for some loving exchange!
Indifference. Ouch. Nope. Not likely. More likely booty call, or they’re just not into you at all!
Making Better Choices
For me, making this/these distinctions saved me a whole hellavalotta heart ache. I learned to make better choices and found that I respected myself even more when I focused on what was real and authentic about myself, rather than focusing on trying to figure out who you wanted or needed me to be. At first, like with many things, I had a tough time believing this was true and still find I can get caught in that trap. But overall, this awareness makes it possible for us to attract and create a healthy, loving relationship rather than one based on deserve and reward.