How to Love Someone Without Scaring Them Away

 

I am the first to admit that when I used to get involved with someone, I would fall hard and fast like granite. I know I’m not alone. This is pretty typical, because INFATUATION feels like LOVE…sort of.

Infatuation feels frenzied, intense, overwhelming, like you NEED the person. You are drunk on them, they are your addiction.

Love feels more centered, calm, and REAL. It feels natural, and DEEP. It is so easy to confuse the two, especially if you haven’t yet experienced long-term love feelings, and I certainly had not in my earlier life.

Here’s the guide to getting involved without scaring them off!

 

1. KNOW that it is not love right away, it’s infatuation.

Infatuation is FUN, but do not confuse it with love. Love at first sight is bullshit. You might argue with me on this because it happened to YOU – but hey! I never said it never works out. Even if you have had a lifelong love affair with the person you “fell in love with”  immediately, it was not love – it morphed into it.

You do not know a person, not truly, for years. Everyone is on their best behaviour at first – you start to love how amazing they are, idealize them, and think that having them in your life will make YOU a better person, and you want to do the same for them. You want to drown in each other because your pheromones are off the charts and you want to surf that wave of serotonin every fucking day until you pass out, just to wake up and do it again.

When you start to feel like you are in withdrawal from not being around them, ask yourself if you’re in love with the person and all their faults, or in love with your image of them, or their POTENTIAL (ugh)! In the beginning, that’s all it can be. Love is based on reality. If your partner seems to have no negative side, you are deceiving yourself. Perfection is a fantasy.

2. Have a really amazing life of your own.

Never give up the things you love doing in order to be with someone new. This is fucking terrifying for them. I will never forget this guy I was nuts for in 2005. I was planning to visit him (an addition to an overseas trip I’d been planning already), and at one point he said he loved me so much that he’d pick me over music, which was his major passion. We hadn’t even met in person yet. It was in this instance that I started to feel major trepidations. I should have just ended it there, but lo and behold, when we met, it didn’t take long for me to get absolutely sick of him and understand why clinginess was so absolutely nauseating. I’d never really dealt with it before and it made me look at myself and how I tended to scare people off.

When I got involved with my current sweetheart, I was planning to embark on a solo trip to Thailand and Australia for a month. We were not officially a couple, but we were absolutely smitten with each other and there was part of me that didn’t want to take off for so long.

But I was older, way smarter, super confident and independent. I knew it wasn’t love at that point, even though I adored him (I’d known him for 16 years but not romantically). There was no way in hell I was going to stop my life in order to “be” with him. If it was anything worthwhile then it would continue when I returned. I’d been planning this trip for 2 years – can you imagine if someone just was like “nah” and cancelled their dream vacation to be with someone they just got involved with? Would that make you admire the person? It would give me the creeps. Why would you give up your dreams and passions just to hang out and fuck someone you barely know all day? That can happen the majority of the time outside of everything else, but never make your relationship your ONLY reason for living. Being someone’s ONLY source of pleasure is completely awful, because then you feel pressured to live not only your life for you, but for them, too, and they will always depend on you to feel awesome.

3. Figure out how they feel loved

There are 5 particular ways people show love according to The 5 Love Languages, and you should figure this out pretty quickly if you want them to feel appreciated and cared for. However, at first, keep everything simple, sporadic, and wait a while before doing anything over the top. Do they feel loved when you make time for them? Give them presents? Do they feel most loved when you speak about it out loud? Show them physically? For me, effort means everything. Getting a ton of presents would make me feel awkward and smothered.

4. Do the opposite of what you usually do

One of the best things I ever did in terms of relationships was to do the complete opposite of almost everything I did in previous ones. This is the best way to break out of a pattern, especially if you are in the habit of becoming needy or obsessive, and scaring off potentially wonderful partners! Make a list of your typical relationship habits – dig deep, and then commit to trying everything contrary next time and see what happens. This changed my entire life, and I use this method in everything I’ve struggled with, not just relationships.

 If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. ‘ – Tony Robbins.

5. Don’t talk too much shit about your past relationships, if ever

This just makes you seem obsessive, and that’s never a good thing. No one wants to hear about your old woes, unless they ask or it is pertinent to the conversation. If you are endlessly negative, it’s going to push that person away and then they will wonder what you’re going to say about them!

6. Allow them space to be themselves.

Let them know, with actions and not just words, that you want them to be able to express themselves, and that you will not get in their way. Loving someone hard means allowing them to do what they need to do to be THEMSELVES. If you want to be with a musician (for a very good example) don’t expect to come first. Often, when people are intensely into something (which is very attractive), you will always come second, especially in the beginning. Is this bad? Not necessarily. If they feel loved enough to be able to live life the way they want and be who they are, they will respect and appreciate your relationship so much more. To try and hold someone back is the worst thing you can possibly do in a relationship – and the same goes for if someone is trying to do this for you. Even worse, if you find yourself being held back by someone, get out FAST. Sometimes it happens without you even realizing it! You will feel so repressed that you will explode, and probably not in a purely positive way (happened to me). Make sure you let your loved one be who they need to be, and make sure they let you do the same.

That being said, if you are being completely neglected, that person is not right for you, and you should not try to change them. Find someone more suitable.

7. Don’t put in more effort than the other person, make sure it is equal.

If you are putting in everything you’ve got, and they’re not, then it’s completely unbalanced. You might even be putting them off. If they are not matching you in enthusiasm, back off, or just give it up completely and find someone else.

8. Look at the relationship as a journey and not a destination.

Have FUN. Don’t take relationships so seriously, and don’t grasp on as if it’s your last hope. You want to know you are truly compatible with someone, and it really doesn’t take a huge amount of time to figure that out. You don’t want an air of desperation, because that is gross and off-putting to everyone. Get to know someone slowly, and if you feel in your gut that it’s not going to work, then DON’T CONTINUE. That is a waste of time. That is cruel to the other person, especially if they really like you and hope for something more serious.

If you go into something with the thoughts of MARRIAGE! KIDS! then you will probably jump in way too quickly and find out later that it was a poor idea.

9. LISTEN to them and COMMUNICATE

See everyone as your teacher. If you listen and take an interest in what your loved one is doing, even if it’s not what you’re into, the effort will mean a lot. Besides, you should always be learning from your partner.

Also, be clear and don’t expect anyone to know what you want or read your mind. Passive aggressive behaviour and not being open are going to stack against you, quickly. Say what is important and what is necessary.

10. Don’t hide anything important

Your sweetheart doesn’t need to know all your tiny weird habits, but declare anything big that might change their whole perception of you.  This may very well scare someone off, but that means they are not right for you, and you have saved both of yourselves some time.

11. Remember things that are super important to them. Little things count the most.

Forgetting important things cannot be rectified by flowers and apologies, unless it’s a rare occurrence. Make sure you pay attention.

12. Make sure that you are well matched before getting deeply involved.

The most unloving thing to do is to ignore your instincts and have someone fall for you if you know early on that it’s unlikely going to work. Your intuition will guide you. Listen to it!

13. Don’t make your whole life about them, and make sure they don’t make their whole life about you.

Put your energy into yourself, your friends, your animal companions, your work – so many people make the mistake of putting ALL their energy into one other person. It does take energy and effort to grow something beautiful with a partner, but in the beginning, chill out and continue to live the life you were living pre-other-person. It’s hard to do, I know, because it’s ultra-exciting. That doesn’t make it love.

14. Things have to grow, not just appear.

This was something I heard from an ex of mine, after we broke up – we were together two weeks. I was 25. I was SHATTERED. I hadn’t felt like that for someone in a long time, and I just threw myself into it – so did he, but he freaked out, obviously. Even though it took me quite a while to figure out what had happened (it seems so obvious to me now), I completely agree with him. Love doesn’t just magically happen. It IS magical, but love grows. Infatuation can be instant, but like I said before, love must be cultivated, tended to, nurtured over time. You can’t just stick a seed in the ground and expect a fucking rose to be there the next day. It takes a lot of patience and coaxing, and it will develop IF everything is right. You can tell fairly quickly what is missing, and if it worth continuing. Some things just won’t grow, no matter how much you pour into the soil.

15. Enjoy YOURSELF

The typical “If you can’t love yourself, how can you love anyone else?” thing is annoyingly true. If you need someone else to validate your existence, you need to turn inward before getting involved with anyone, and make yourself into a person you are proud of. You have to think you are awesome, or you are going to settle for a lot of shit, including shit people. When you are full of love for yourself, confident, and know you are amazing, people notice, and they will flock to you. You will have your choice of amazing people to have in your life.

16. Knock the Jealousy

If you try to own someone, show that you mistrust them, and generally monitor their every move – you’re going to piss them off and scare them off. I mean duh. If you are that mistrusting of someone, either don’t be with them at all, or get confident in yourself. Jealousy is stupid and a relationship killer.

I hope these tips help, because I know they have worked for me. Please leave any other suggestions in the comments!

 

Recommended Reading:

I Need Your Love – Is That True?
Why Men Love Bitches
The Vortex
Be the Person You Want to Find

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Love and Health Trump Everything

It doesn’t matter what happens to you if you’re healthy.

If you’re healthy then you can do anything. You can think clearly. You can do any sort of work. You can solve problems more easily. You won’t put up with as much bullshit (if any).

When things get taken away from you, at least you will have your health. If you lose something, have things stolen, get fired – let yourself be mad for a short time and then move on. Honour your anger. But then focus on what you do have. If you are healthy and have love, you’re doing better than most people on earth.

Health and love are the most important things in life – if you have both, you are a lucky, lucky human being. You can go without a lot of things, but if you lack either of those, you are not going to be experiencing life as it should be experienced.

Health is not arbitrary. It’s not just “feeling good.” You could feel good for 20 years and be growing a tumour in your gut, or have your bones deteriorating – things don’t just happen in a day – they are based on how you live your life and what you put in your mouth.

Health also depends on how you THINK, how you talk to yourself, and how you treat yourself and others. When you eat a clean diet, you will automatically become more compassionate to yourself and fellow human beings (and animals), and you will have more love in your life – it happens. You become magnetic – you start to be more loving, calm, and patient. You see beauty everywhere. Even when someone is being a jerk, you can focus on the good aspects of that person (eventually) instead of writing them off completely.

But don’t fool yourself – just because you are slim, fit, and feel good, it doesn’t mean you are HEALTHY. You are only as healthy as your weakest link.

So focus on health and love – when you have them, everything else can fall apart and you will be still be way better off than most. You can rebuild. You can always get new “things.” You can always find more work. You can then see new pathways and possibilities, often better than what exited your life in the first place.

How to Break Up With Someone You Love

 

I have thought about writing this post for over a year, and I only just ended my long-term relationship in January. I knew it would be an important post for me to write, and that I would have to be fairly personal to write it, and of course respectful of my former partner.

When you know deep in your heart that your relationship is holding you back, yet you still love the person, it can lead to some drastic sacrifices – meaning, you can completely lose who you are. For me, my passion was fading. I became an anxious person. I took on traits of my partner. I repressed myself, much, much more than I had realized, and when you repress yourself for too long, you will eventually explode.

And I did – I got to a point where the true, fiery nimbus came out – she BURST out, cackling (rather psychotically), not letting anything get in her way. However, that pull-back was still there, to be mindful of the other, despite the weight upon my soul.

Have you ever been in this situation? It was rather new to me, I have always been the person to work hard (not that I didn’t this time – I did, believe me), to stick with it, and be heartbroken. To hurt another was rather foreign to me, and I was terrified. It absolutely gutted me, but it was so necessary to my well-being. I did not stop loving who I was with, but the love morphed into a platonic love, and it was not fair to me, or to him, to continue.

I struggled with this decision for almost 2 years. I justified staying for so many reasons – my partner had lots of good traits, but over time, the bad ones just clashed with me so much that I was quite literally losing my mind, turning into a person I did not recognize, almost worse than me in the past – the unhealthy, depressed, anxious cynic – now phony, irritable, lashing out, lying…so unlike me it was insane, and when it got to the point where I was being dishonest, I had to get out, immediately, because it was not who I am. I have always prided myself on honesty and I always refused to be fake – I am no good at it anyway. It was obvious I was going to leave, though I ignored my own needs and was eventually a brutal, horrible girlfriend – me leaving was really best for us both.

So over the last 2 years of grappling with my feelings, here is what I have learned. Some people might have an easy time letting go, and I’m not one of them. If I have loved someone, I care for them forever! To part is not easy for me.

~

Realize you do not need to BE with someone to love them.

This is something I discovered via questioning my beliefs – in the past, when someone I loved left to go back to where he lived in LA, I questioned the belief: ‘But I love him, I have to be with him!‘ And to turn that around, to “I don’t need to be with him to love him” was very powerful. It still works when you are the one doing the leaving. The other person may not believe you, but they don’t have to. YOU know it. Reiterate it to them. It seems cliche and phony, but if you are sincere, hopefully it will come across, even if they can’t see it immediately.

Be selfish.

There is so much flack out there about being selfish. Everyone seems to have an opinion about other people’s relationships, what they should do, who they should be with, why they should stay or leave, what is acceptable and what is not, what is a deal-breaker, and what should be supported. But really, how can you be a good partner if you are miserable? You can’t, to anyone. If you are like I was, you could be so miserable that you don’t even like yourself – then how could anyone else? To be happy with others, you need to be happy with you, so you need to make sure your relationships are good ones. Of course, relationships take work, but there is only so much you can do when things are not right – you can’t force it. When it’s forced it feels gross. Make yourself happy. Give yourself what you need, especially if your partner will not, or cannot, give it to you.

Be empathetic

If you are a normal person, you will probably know how horrible it feels to have someone leave you. Do it with the UTMOST compassion, regardless if they have been a shithead to you, or an angel. Even wonderful people can be wrong for you, and even shitheads can have broken hearts. Be as kind as you can.

Be Open

At least listen to everything they have to say. You don’t have to agree or respond, but listen to them. They at least should have the opportunity to say what they feel. If you feel threatened or attacked, retreat.

Be Accepting of their reaction

They may beg you for another chance, they may threaten suicide or a number of things, they may hurl insults at you or be in utter agony. They might surprise you and agree! They might be completely cold and not even look at you. Whatever they do, it might not be what you are prepared for, so be prepared for anything.

Be adamant/firm – with them AND yourself.

No matter how much they beg or threaten, do not falter. It’s difficult but in order for you BOTH to move forward, it is imperative that you cut the cord completely. Emotional manipulation is not cool, and what that person decides to do after you leave is their business, not yours. Their problem, not yours.

Be SURE.

Don’t do what I did – I tried leaving several times. The first few times, I changed my mind the next day. I felt horrible for hurting him, and when I was 100% sure I wanted to leave, I had to be damn strong in order to do so. Don’t hurt them more than you have to. It’s hard to leave that comfort zone. If you’re not ready, don’t do it. But when you do decide, make sure it’s for real, or you are likely to keep hurting them, and if you love them, why would you want to prolong the agony?
Be positive. Question everything. Put YOU first. If you aren’t happy you will take it out on your partner, and then nobody is happy.

Be direct

I wanted to cop out so many times and just write a note and leave it at his place. I wanted to do it over the phone. I wanted to send a text (better than a post-it). I wanted to get someone ELSE to do it (that happened to me when I was 15, no fun). I knew none of these were acceptable, especially for a long-term situation, or an adult.
It sucks, but do it in person (if you can – I was once involved with someone overseas so I couldn’t exactly do that when I ended our relationship – so pick the next best option). Write a letter if you have to, but at least give it to them in person and stay while they read it, or discuss it – I did this, even though it was refused, and then I had a lead into what was going to happen.

Have support/Expect Criticism

The person doing the leaving doesn’t seem to get much sympathy, at least not in the open. The person being left (I hate the word dumped, especially in a loving situation – you never DUMP someone you still care for – you leave the situation – that person is not garbage – can we nix this term?) tends to get the sympathy. If you have mutual friends, some may take the other person’s side, some may take yours, and some may take neither. If some side with your ex, let them. Don’t expect all the support for yourself – your ex needs people on their side, too (but don’t put up with any nastiness from anyone! it will show you who your friends are, at least).

After I left, I had to replace certain habits with others (as in, instead of chatting with him several times a day, I’d call my mom to talk instead).

Everyone surprised me and respected my decision. Everyone understood. Seek out the people who will do the same for you. If no one will, get better friends.

Keep a distance

This may be tough if you still want them in your life, but as someone who is friends/on good terms with every single person I’ve ever dated (except the last, unfortunately), I know that sometimes it can take years to reconnect, but if your partner really does love you and miss you, they will want you in their life regardless. But give it time – you both need to heal. You need to re-balance, they need to mourn (and so might you). You need to reconnect with yourself and feel as strong and dynamic as you can before you venture forth again with someone new.

Mourn

Let yourself be as miserable as you need. When I tried leaving the first few times, I felt like I had been dumped. I made lists and tried to find reasons to stay because the severing felt too abrupt, too harsh, and I hadn’t really made my concrete decision – I still loved him in a romantic way.
When I did finally leave for real, I just let guilt and sorrow overtake me. I dealt with the images playing over and over in my head. I wrote it out. I bawled. I talked to my friends and cried to them. I let people at work know that I was sad for a reason, but I still managed to get through it. Take time off if you have to, no one needs details.

Get away

If you can afford it, get away. I was lucky that my trip away coincided with my split, but I also made sure it happened before I went away – this was because I knew that I had to end things, and that going away would help me compose myself. It would also distract me and challenge me, plus the healing of the sun, cheap daily massage, and heavenly fruit was nourishing, and I damn well needed it.
If you can’t afford to go away, at least have a media cleanse and make your home a retreat for a weekend, as much as you can in your circumstances.

Write

This has been a necessary thing for me my entire life – it got me through my teenage years without succumbing to heinous things like drugs or booze, especially since I was a loner and didn’t have anyone to confide in. Journaling did well enough.
Also, this is KEY to figuring out patterns. I write so much of my life down that to look back and see how often I wanted to leave my partner, and that I was writing about how boring my life had gotten – I could see my gradual decline over the years. It can be illuminating and humbling, the best sort of counsel.

Channel your love elsewhere – to yourself, your pets, your friends.

If you feel like you have no one to lavish attention on anymore, seriously, give it to YOURSELF. I have felt like this in the past when I’ve been heartbroken – and I spoiled the HELL out of my dog, I focused on the love of my friends, and I really spent effort on myself. Often when I feel like crap (especially after I left my ex), I felt so badly about myself that I said “WHY BOTHER?” and wanted to binge on shitty food, be a schlub, and physically destroy myself, when really, times like this are when you MOST need to treat yourself WELL. You should NOT feel guilty for doing what you need to do, so CELEBRATE yourself for being strong, and when you treat yourself with love, even when you don’t feel like it, your brain will catch up pretty quickly and remember that you are indeed awesome.

Don’t believe in forever – believe in right now.

I used to believe in this, because it is what we are told our whole lives. I never think this way anymore. It is idealistic and focuses on the future, when all we have is right now. I love you right now. Isn’t that what matters? Why do you need to know I will love you in two years? If I don’t, will you not love me now? It’s a foolish way of thinking and takes away from really living.

Falling out of love does not negate what you had with someone. I still have fond feelings for many people in my past, and never feel like I wasted my time knowing them and loving them. So many relationships end – but don’t we learn from them all?

In fact, I am glad of all the heartbreak I’ve had, because it formed me into a better person, a better lover, and much more present and mindful of my behaviour in relationships. It made me more open to seeing the other person’s possible perspectives, more empathetic and definitely more loving.

So please, do what you need for yourself. Your partner will live, and you can still love them, even if they won’t accept it without the relationship. You can love them so hard. Too bad if they don’t like it.

 

Highly Recommended Reading:

I Need Your Love – Is That True? – Byron Katie