Love (the Bastardized Version Most of Us Give and Receive). This is conditional love. I'll love you if you do this, or act that way or perform in some way that meets my expectations. Most of us received conditional love as children. Most of us needed then to hide our hating, our sexuality, our tears and/or our vulnerabilities because those human qualities were not accepted by parents or society. We put on a performance by denying those unapproved aspects of ourselves to get the maximum number of strokes. It was not real acceptance of ourselves we received as children, just an absence of condemnation of the aspects we hid. Conditional love is widespread today among adults in most relationships. We couldn't possibly love them if they do this, or hate us, or have the wrong views. If you don't act the way I think you should act, then I'll reject you. You are totally unacceptable to me if you lie, cheat, two-time me, hate me, treat my family wrong, or don't agree with me on issues. But if you do jump through my required hoops, then I'll love you (conditionally, obviously). Conditional love created many trauma knots in us as children which we then later as adults need to untie.
Love (the Feeling). Some of us cannot feel the feeling of love for others. It was trained out of us by the traumas of childhood. For those of us so suffering, (often unknowingly), more men than women, there will be avoidances of close relationships and the words, "I love you." If this is your difficulty, then the most important step you can take is to decide you want to feel love. To actually feel loving toward others will probably take some time and perhaps therapy. Even more of us do not "get" the feeling of love when it is directed toward us. We slough it off without actually receiving it. A decision is also required here as a first step, the decision to want to be able to receive love.
Love (Its Verbal Expression) - "I Love You." Many of us have difficulties with those three little words. Those who have been "toughened" in their childhoods or by life will often be unable to say, "I love you." Some of us will place huge barriers between ourselves and those words, barriers such as "I can't say them until I know the other person is my life-mate." Thus, we fail to acknowledge that we have a problem. The difficulty with saying the words "I love you" without any feeling attached (i.e., caring seems to be missing) is also prevalent and is particularly confusing to children. For example, children know their silent or angry alcoholic dads don't care much, but their effusive moms, with their thousands of supposedly caring words, can cause a lifetime of confusion. The ability to say the words "I love you" with feeling is essential. The ability to appropriately express those words in a nonsexual context to men, women and children is a good indicator of emotional health.
Love (Its Physical Expression) - Hugs. To be able to lovingly hug men, women and children is a part of the repertoire of healthy adults. Unfortunately, many have learned to equate hugs with sex. This leads to homophobic avoidance of same-sex hugs, particularly among men. One healthy first step for such men is to allow the thought into their minds that such hugs are no more sexual than those given children.
© 2008 by Thayer White
Finding Your Soul in the Spirituality Maze
|Excerpt from Be Your Own Therapist: "The useful molehills of psychological knowledge are often obscured by the mountains of psychological claptrap now available."|