Perceptions of Love

Article by W. Brooke Chang, Pathway to Joy and Healing

Believing that I had been in love several times, I acknowledge that I was wrong. During each of these relationships, I genuinely believed that I was in love in the way that we’ve been culturally conditioned. I experienced the nervousness of seeing my love interests. My heart raced, my palms sweat, and I felt butterflies in my stomach. I even had conflicts and friction with them that gave me a sense of excitement.  I couldn’t stop thinking about seeing them again. This is what we’ve been told about love in books and movies. 

Was this, in fact, love at all? During my healing journey, I began to evaluate my past failed relationships to determine what went wrong. I no longer wish to blame my love interests for these failures, because the truth of the matter is that I was the common denominator in all these relationships.  They failed because I contributed to these failures.

In each of these earlier relationships, I realized that they were different forms of dependency. I engaged in codependency with each of my love interests.  I frequently was their caretaker, and they offered emotional stability and security I needed that I never received from my parents. We attract those who match our vibrational frequency within our energy fields.  Those I attracted had serious codependency issues as well that created this perfect attraction.   

What about the racing heart, sweaty palms, and butterflies you ask? Many psychologists attribute these physical symptoms to our nervous system’s response to trauma or negative experiences. These symptoms are actually warning signs of danger.  This also explains the conflict and friction we may feel with our love interests. However, our culture has attributed these physical symptoms as signs of love and infatuation.

True love is unconditional, but the love that we read about in books and see in movies are conditional love or dependency. They are transactional in nature; you love me, and I’ll return your love; you provide a secure home, and I’ll bear your children.  There’s nothing wrong with transactional relationships, since they are the most common interactions and relationships in our lives. The key is to know the difference, and admit what these relationships truly are to yourself. In unconditional love, we give love freely without expecting anything in return, and we truly want what is best for those we love, instead of what is best for us. Unconditional love is uncommon in our culture.    

When I met my current husband and soulmate, I learned unconditional love for the first time. He is my best friend and companion.  I didn’t experience any of the symptoms that I previously felt with other love interests. I immediately felt safe, calm, and comfortable with him, and we share many of the same interests and values. We complement each other perfectly; he is good at things I’m not, and vice versa.  We reciprocate love and kindness to the other because we wish to give them, but not because it is expected. It isn’t perfect, but unconditional love isn’t perfect.  I no longer fear that this love may be impermanent, because nothing is permanent. Divorce, illness, death, and life circumstances may take our loved ones away from us at any time.     

Of all the life lessons I’ve learned on my healing journey, this may be one of the most difficult to see clearly, since we must contradict the cultural conditioning and expectations we’ve learned about love. Our perceptions of love may not be serving us for our highest good.  As with all cultural conditioning, we must first unlearn what we’ve learned, before we can find healthier and more fulfilling paths for our lives. May you find your path to unconditional love. ~ Brooke

(Copyright 2023 W. Brooke Chang with all rights reserved. The contents may be reblogged in its entirety with credit to the author, but may not be duplicated, copied, or excerpted.)

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