Looking for Love: A letter from a Reader
Thank you for your email inviting us to write you.
I was in your class this Monday in NY. I wanted to share a story but was too afraid to share it in public.
I was hurt (heartbroken) at a young age, and then fell in love with that same person 11 years later, after I thought I had healed. I don’t understand how I could let the same person leave me twice, how I could fall in love again and let myself be open to that kind of pain, which had originally taken me probably 7 years to “get over”. That is, if I really was ever over him.
I thought we were in love, and that what I felt was love (for no reason. I actually cannot explain why I loved him. It just felt like he was my soul mate). Since it wasn’t actually real (at least NOT mutual), I feel like it is not possible to really love. That “being in love” with someone doesn’t actually exist – at least not for me.
I know that other people have real love, I can see it and I believe it’s real. I trust them when they say it and I can honestly feel it when I am around them (there is this lovely senior couple from my synagogue that are still head over heels for each other after years of being together).
I just don’t think I have “true love” in my cards. I, oddly enough, fall in love with anyone and everyone very easily, and that’s when they are just a small part of my life – a guy I have just met, an acquaintance, people I only know superficially – no one that I actually get to know. Once I delve deeper into getting to know someone, I realize that they are not a good fit for me. It seems like the only people who I deem “worthy” of my myriad of talents and qualities; someone who I think it’s fair to love (as if we were equals in this warped sense of reality I carry with me), is always someone that I barely know. Who I know would never actually want to get to know me, for whatever reasons, I think I’m not worthy of them.
I can see that I am flip-flopping from arrogance/entitlement to insecurity, and the scariest thing for me is that I don’t really know which one is the genuine, underlying emotion.
Any insights or clarity would be greatly appreciated and desperately sought. I am looking for love, hoping to be “head over heels” in love, searching for my soul mate.
In reading your letter, there’s a chapter before the one you start with. Since I don’t have that information I feel a little in the dark on how to guide you. By the time I finished reading your letter it’s clear to me why you chose the person you did to fall in love with and re-chose him 7 years later, and I agree, I don’t think that you ever got over him in the years between.
By the end of your letter you write “I don’t think I have true love in my cards” and that in essence you don’t feel that you’re worthy of being loved by someone. If that is your underlying belief, then you’re going to make your reality mirror that idea and therefore you will choose people who don’t see your worth and who don’t treat you well.
This is why I feel that you had this belief well before this relationship and you learned it somewhere in your youth or childhood. The great news for you is that a thought is only a thought and a thought can be changed. You need to be more in touch with your thoughts and the one relationship you really need to work on is the one you have with yourself. You care enough about yourself to have written this letter; you do want to be loved and you do want to thrive. The main thing to do at this point is to get out of your own way. This is going to require work and effort.
Every time you have a thought, for example, that goes something like this:
• “It’s not possible to really be loved.”
• “Being in love with someone doesn’t exist for me.”
• “I’m not worthy of love.”
You stop yourself dead in your tracks and say out loud, “These are lies I am not willing to tell myself anymore.” Then tell yourself the exact opposite, which would sound like this, for example:
• “I am so easy to love.”
• “Being in love comes freely & naturally to and from me.”
• “I am worthwhile.”
I understand the pain and the heartbreak that you have experienced, but you can also learn to let go of that. First loves are always difficult and usually that feeling stays with us forever, because it’s our first of many.
A first romantic relationship has one critical novel element: It’s the only time you’re ever in love where you’ve never had your heart broken. You can have better relationships after that, but there is never one again where you haven’t been hurt.
Your first love may come to define what love means to you and any subsequent relationship you have will be influenced by this first experience whether you realize it or not. Our lessons in love don’t start in the middle of a relationship, they started in infancy and lasted all the years we lived with our parents.
Our experiences growing up — both good and bad—leave a lasting imprint in our souls that determine our beliefs and expectations about how to give love and how to receive love. But even with this you can realize that you can experience love in a new way.
You can look for love, but you won’t find it with your old belief system. You can hope, but you’ll never find certainty. You can search, but you’re really not covering any ground because you’re standing in the past, in the midst of your heartbreak. You have to change your old belief system and know that you are truly worthy of loving and being loved.
Thank you for your letter.