I want to say right from the beginning that I’m one of those people who believes that we don’t “look for and find love” but rather, the love already in us attracts the love of another.
But for the sake of this article, I’ll go with the common notion that men and women “look for and find love”. Other than the flawed approach to love, there is nothing wrong with wanting to meet, get to know and fall in love with someone special.
But that’s exactly where most people have a problem. Somewhere between birth and the present something happened to them that their concept of love now includes being messed around, power-plays, drama, stress and pain. Every time they tried to love or thought they’d met someone who loved them, things quickly moved from feeling great to feeling unattractive and unwanted. Words of love replaced by insults, put-downs and rage. Sweet memories pushed away and replaced with hurt, blame and hate.
These experiences have made them so afraid of all the possible things that could go wrong that they’ve become obsessed with keeping a ‘”psychological balance sheet”’ of who is trying to screw them, either literally or figuratively – usually both.
How do they avoid hurt or a broken-heart? They play mind games.
Playing mind games may seem like a perfectly “safer” way of interacting with others without exposing your heart to pain. But mind games – if they work at all, just postpone the inevitable. You get to experience the illusion of loving attention, and you might even be able to fool someone for months or years, but the longer you can pull it off the harder and uglier the fall will be. The great manipulation techniques will gradually destroy what you worked so hard to get or build, no matter how hard you try to stop the inevitable.
Some people have played mind games for so long that they really have never known the experience of being loved without the pain, hurt, feelings of being unwanted and clinging to someone who is pulling away. They’ve been hiding behind mind games for so long that no one really knows who they really are – and no one wants who they pretend to be.
Even when they meet someone special, they don’t know how else to interact with the person and create a long term relationship because of their fear of rejection, fear of intimacy, emotional insecurity and/or immaturity.
There is nothing wrong with being careful and not just falling in love with anybody anyhow. In fact all of us should protect our hearts. But if you spend more time, effort and energy trying to avoid ending up broken-hearted than you do trying to meet, get to know and fall in love with someone special, then it’s not “they” that are screwing you, it’s you who is screwing you.
The real tragedy – and shame – of mind games is that you probably could have been loved for who you really are anyway. You just never gave the other person the opportunity to meet you, get to know you and fall in love with you. He or she rejected you for who he or she thought you were. The pain of getting rejected by someone who doesn’t even really know you (the real you), is worse.
You screwed yourself and will probably do it again. The solution is not to beat yourself up. You did what you thought would bring you what you really want. This is probably the only way you’ve known how to make others pay attention to you, show you love and make you feel loved.
The solution is to accept that anytime you open your heart to another human being -lover, friend, parent, child, co-worker etc — there is potential for hurt. There is a chance that they’ll hurt you, break your heart. The issue is not “if” they’ll cause you pain. The issue is how much pain and how often. If there is more pain and hurt than love and happiness, then that relationship is toxic, and it’s best to walk away from it.
Bottom line, to experience true love; one that makes life exciting and worthwhile, and gives you so much happiness that your own happiness scares you, you have to risk fully loving and fully being loved. Being fully loved is only possible when you allow the other to love you, the real you.
That doesn’t mean you throw caution to wind and fall for anyone and anybody. You have to know what you really want, choose carefully, have clear and healthy boundaries, communicate, and trust the other person is well-meaning. But most of all, let that special someone meet the real you (not playing mind games), get to know you and fall in love with you – the REAL YOU!
And when you get hurt, be kind and gentle with yourself. Learn from what happened and open your heart to love again.
In my opinion, love is the only “mistake” worth making over and over and over again.