The Reason Love Dies (And How To Get It Back!)
Our nature is to want to escape anything that feels like it's limiting to us. Obligations, expectations, "shoulds."
But what about things that we want to do--do we like that?
Yes, of course.
Well, the same rules apply to love.
When you feel like you have to love—that you have to do things to make your partner happy, that you have to be a certain way to get the love you want—then the feeling of authentic love starts to disintegrate and die. Sounds harsh, but it's true.
Love needs space to grow.
Like fire, love needs a little breathing room. Stifle it and it burns right out.
The reason love dies under heavy limitations is because limits are counter to our very nature, which is growth. We can't help but expand. We can't help but evolve. We can't help but to change.
The process of growth cannot be stopped within us, nor should it be. So when limits, expectations, and shoulds are placed on us by our partners and by ourselves, we automatically want to break-out of them.
Now, let's be honest, we all do this. We expect them to act a certain way; we expect ourselves to act a certain way. We feel like they should [fill in the blank]; we feel like we should [fill in the blank]. I could go on and on about how this impulse to limit constantly shows up in our lives. But, why?
One word: fear.
We limit ourselves and others because we are scared. Really scared.
We're scared that if we don't hang on tightly to our partners, they'll leave. We're scared that if we freely show up as we really are, the people we want to love us, won't. We're scared that if we don't get our needs met by certain people, we'll go without. We're scared that love itself is limited—that there is not enough to go around.
We feel a ton of fear about losing love so we try to lock it in place. Ironically, this coping mechanism backfires—the tight fence we build around love suffocates it in the end.
Love can't live like this! It cannot be boxed in. It cannot be dictated or forced or obligated. If love is going to grow and flourish, it must be FREE.
So this creates quite a dilemma for us. What can we do to change this pattern?
Believe it or not, there is one thing we all can do to shift this dilemma, and that is: we must give our love away.
Like, for free. To everyone. You might call it free love. (What can I say, I'm from San Francisco…)
Now, before your minds run too wild, let me clarify what I mean by this. Free love doesn't mean that we drop all our boundaries in relationships and go live on communes. I mean, go for it if you want, but that's not what I'm talking about here.
What I am saying is that collectively we need a major shift in our perception about love. We need to understand that love can be anywhere that we bring it; and the more we bring it, the more we get. (And the opposite is also true: the more we set limits on love, the more it limits us.)
Love does not reside with one special person! We are programed to believe otherwise and this makes us terrified! We grip so tightly to these people that the love gets suffocated. But when we recognize that love lives within us (no, it's not outsourced by them), then our fears about losing love will start to shift.
When I talk about practicing free love, this is what I mean:
To love freely is to be kind, generous, understanding and compassionate to everyone you meet.
Free love exists when you smile at strangers, when you chat with people in line, when you gaze up at the beautiful night sky.
Free love is about appreciating your partner for who they are and how they choose to show up in your relationship.
Free love is recognizing that love exists within you at all times; that there is an ever-abundant source of it ready to be shared with the world.
Free love is the act of giving love away so you can keep it for yourself; it's the recognition that the more you share love, the more you receive it and feel it.
Giving love away helps you learn that you can never ultimately be separated from love. And it's by knowing this that your fears about losing love will start to dissipate, and your urge to limit and control the love in your life will slowly fade away.
When we subscribe to the belief system that love is limited—that there is only so much to go around—then of course we're going to be terrified about losing it! But, when we tap into the real truth—that love is limitless and resides within us—then we realize that there actually is nothing to be afraid of.
Love is always here.
Free love may seem like a unattainable ideal, or it may seem too simple to be true. But I encourage you to try it for yourself and see what happens. I think we'd all agree that this world could use a little more love, right?
Give your love away and watch the amount you feel in your heart expand and grow, just the way it's supposed to be.
Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist with a holistic and spiritual approach to relationships. She has worked with thousands of clients on improving their relationships with others and themselves, and she's also the instructor of the popular mindbodygreen courses How To Become The Most Attractive Version Of Yourself and How To Attract A Partner.