In the mystical whirlwinds of a new relationship, our deepest human desire is fulfilled — our desire to be seen, heard, and valued by another. We are intensely seen and heard in the beginning, aren’t we?
And smelled, and touched, and tasted.
The sheer volume of validation and self-esteem that comes when someone is attracted to you and pursues you is truly intoxicating. The affection, attention, appreciation, allowance, and acceptance in those early days make us feel so loved and valued and wonderful.
Then what happens?
Well, pursuing each other turns into having each other (a committed relationship). You begin pursuing other things together — maybe a house, a family, or some other adventure. This is wonderful. But you yourself are no longer the object of pursuit.
The gratuitous ecstasies of new relationships fade. We inevitably return to the human condition — once again faced with the task of cultivating love. It is our biological imperative.
But what exactly is love?
Love, quite simply, is neither quite, nor simply.
However, I believe we experience love when we feel seen, heard, and significant (basic attachment needs). The challenge is that there are many ways to achieve that end.
Working hard and achieving. Being sexy and flaunting your body. Owning fancy things. Dominating and controlling others. Being a fucking internet troll. Striving for excellence. Joining a street gang.
All these and many more can make a person feel loved, believe it or not.
So what do you do for love?
What is your source?
People who had their attachment needs met as children (safe, seen, soothed, and secure) love themselves and feel worthy of love. They are capable of both giving and receiving love freely.
Those who did not have their attachment needs met in childhood often feel shame and doubt where self-love is supposed to live. Many do not feel worthy of love and are incapable of giving or receiving anything but a watered-down, quid pro quo version of love.
These folks have a hard time with relationships. They blame others, and they blame themselves. But truth be told, they haven’t the foggiest notion of what the hell is wrong.
I was once in that category.
Couldn’t think my way out, drink my way out, or fuck my way out. I had to get help.
Maybe it will be the same with you?