The Enigma That Is Love

enigma

Love – it is a concept that eludes me most of the time.  I can’t explain it and I don’t understand it but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel it.  I just have a hard time understanding all that encompasses it and figuring out who gets it and why.

My wife and I were discussing our relationship and how we are working to improve it and this topic came up.  She told me that she knew that I loved her and that she expected it to always be there.  If she made a mistake, my love for her would not change.  I may be hurt from her actions, but she is right, I would still love her.  While I have this concept for her, I do not have the same view for myself.  I think that I need to constantly earn her love.  I need to work at it for her to give me love.  But that is not exactly correct, she gives it freely just as I do.  However, I cannot accept it unless I feel I earned it.  This view does make sense in why I always try and make holidays and events overly special for her.

This did worry her though.  She thinks that I need to understand that I can accept her love without having to do anything.  I don’t think I can.  I don’t believe that I deserve love.  It isn’t a concept that I was gifted with from an early age, so to me if I don’t earn it, then I don’t deserve it.  She believes that everyone deserves love. While I kind of agree, I cannot put myself in that category.  She tried to use the example of our kids.  If they did something bad, I would still love them.  I may be disappointed or hurt but I would still love them.

I think they do deserve my unconditional love and I think my wife deserves it as well, but I have too many ghosts and too many demons to just get love freely.  People don’t go around and just give love to everyone they meet.  I am sure there are a few people who can (Mother Theresa, Dalai Lama,…), but most of us cannot be like that.  People have to earn our trust and then our love in order for us to get it.  If I earn this love once, is it that far fetched to think that I need to continue to earn it.  If I then betray your trust, is it difficult to think that you may not love me anymore.  How many times do you hear someone say that they have “fallen out of love” with someone?  Isn’t that just another way of saying that they no longer deserve love because they stopped earning it?  I am sure the process is not instantaneous, but it obviously occurred.

Maybe I am seriously messed up from a rough childhood, but in my head what I am saying sounds logical.  Love, romantic love, is not something that is guaranteed.  It is not something that I expect.  It is something that must be earned through everything I do and say.  I know I am a walking contradiction because I give it freely to my wife without any expectations.  I want her to feel it everyday without worrying, like I do, about how she is going to earn it today.  It is also difficult for me to understand why she is still with me.  I have done numerous things that have shown that I do not deserve her love, yet here she is.  She stays even though I really don’t deserve her or her love.  This makes it more difficult to accept because I don’t understand the motivation behind her staying with me.  Is she here waiting for me to get comfortable and then she will leave?  That way it will hurt more, just like I hurt her.   Maybe she is staying because she can’t leave right now.  She has to get her ducks in a row and then she can pull away.  I write these things but I really don’t believe either of them are possible with her.  She is not that type of person and she does not seek out retribution on those who have wronged her.  Instead, she figures that she needs to learn from it and move on.  It is just who she is.  I am not that person.

While she may give her love freely I cannot accept it freely.  I don’t accept anyone’s love freely.  Then again it is not like I have people throwing love at me.  I think I could count them on one hand.  It is just hard to have lots of people love you when you don’t deserve it from the beginning.  For me anyways, I cannot understand why someone would give me something I have not earned.  Especially not something as valuable as their love.

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22 thoughts on “The Enigma That Is Love”

  1. “Falling out of love” with somebody doesn’t mean YOU didn’t deserve it. Maybe it’s because somebody KILLED it. Maybe THEY didn’t deserve YOUR love.
    I know about childhood harm and how it can affect a person..and I have never believed anybody who told me they loved me. It always seemed to be accompanied by a blow…physically or emotionally.

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    1. Or because they wanted something or were setting you up for a big fall. I think some people think love is the equivalent to being sorry for hurting you when all that does is make us equate hurt with love.

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      1. This. I’m quite behind on your blog as I just discovered it about a week ago when you ‘liked’ a post on mine. In this story, I am your ‘wife’. I am the other side of your writing, is what I mean. I’ve just started my blog, but after reading through several of your posts, I have come to develop a great appreciation for your view here. This comment, resonates with me. My ex walked into our bedroom one night explaining that he felt like he couldn’t give me what I needed. I thought this was a strange comment – what was he talking about? I said to him, “I don’t need much, my love. I’m pretty self sufficient. I’m not with you because I need you – I’m with you because I love you and because I want to be with you. I am happy to simply wake up to you every morning. To see that you thought about me by bringing my coffee upstairs to me…to hear that you love me…I’m happy just to have your time, or a handful of your thoughts.” He explained to me that he didn’t understand that. He didn’t get how that’s all I could want. He didn’t understand how I could love him. I only replied, “Well, I do.” Back to your comment – I did want something from him…it’s as you suspect. I wanted his love in return. I wanted his time. I wanted to wake up to him next to me every morning and go to bed next to him every night. Yes, he cheated on me. That wasn’t what I’d hoped for during our relationship, but it happened…and none of us is perfect. He needed the validation from other women…needed to hear that he was good enough…not just from me. And because of his life, upbringing, etc. I understand why he would need that. In fact, before I met him, I was that kind if person. I needed the validation from men. Because I had been there, it made it even more possible for me to be compassionate with him. I think he was guilty of thinking love is the equivalent to being sorry for hurting you. I feel this because he always had to do something ‘bigger’ when he did something that he thought might hurt me. Basically, ‘I hurt you, so now I need to do something to show you that I love you.’ I knew he loved me. There wasn’t a question in my mind. So – when he planned big surprises or something very special, I knew he had done something that he felt would hurt me…I just hadn’t found out about it yet. Anyway…I’m enjoying making my way through your blog. It helps give me perspective. I’m always grateful for perspective.

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      2. And what about now? Are the two of you the same after his affair? Does he try and use grand gestures to show he is sorry for something?

        This holiday season I recognized that I am always trying to do big things for the Holidays for my wife and kids. I don’t know what I am compensating for, if anything. However, I do wish that, just once, someone would do something special for me. I could be doing these big grand gestures secretly wanting them in return.

        I only say this because maybe he is looking for something from you. Something to validate him.

        Then again I could be out in left field here picking dandie lions.

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      3. Well, now – as of a month ago, we are no longer together. It wasn’t my decision. It’s really quite a long story. It wasn’t an isolated incident. We weren’t the same afterward…no. But that was largely because of his guilt feelings and the fact that he wanted so badly to commit to me, but couldn’t. He lost respect for me because he didn’t understand how I could continue to love him after his indiscretions – and claimed that I lacked self esteem because I didn’t see that I deserved better. That wasn’t true. I knew that I deserved better and I have no issues with my self esteem. But our situation was a little different. As for the grand gestures…we’re currently not contacting each other while he works through some things that he needs to get through…so, no. But here’s what I’ll say – when we met, he commented that I am very good at long-term relationships whereas he is good at dating. Someone who is good at dating, is someone who needs each new person to see him as being without fault. People who struggle with commitment (chronic daters) do it because of a fear of intimacy…because once intimacy – true intimacy – appears, they get scared that the other person will leave them – so they leave first. I, on the other hand, being ‘good’ at long-term relationships, am able to see a person for who they really are, and love them anyway – unconditionally. And to love them ‘where they are’…not trying to change them. On the other side of that, I am okay with that person seeing that I’m imperfect…and I have the expectation that they too will love me unconditionally. In healthy relationships, that might be the way it works. Unfortunately though, when he did so many things that ‘should’ have hurt me, and he realized that I wasn’t going anywhere, he started projecting onto me. All of the sudden he was overly critical of me – and he saw his past grand gestures as rescuing me…when in actuality, they had become uncomfortable to me. As I mentioned, I didn’t need those things. When someone is overly critical, it’s really that person, calling themself out. The things he criticized me for, had little to do with me (verified by the therapist)…and more to do with him. But what was interesting, is that he lost respect for me in the end, because he didn’t think that anyone with decent self esteem would stay with him after the things he did. His ego told him that I wasn’t good enough because I put up with it. What’s funny is that my self esteem is just fine…nothing wrong with it. I loved him – so I stayed. I wasn’t a victim…I knew what I was walking into when we started dating and I accepted that. Simple.

        In regards to doing something special for him…I often did, in the beginning. But he wasn’t comfortable with them because he didn’t feel like he deserved them. Did I attempt to provide some validation? Yep. But he didn’t believe me. In reality, you can only validate yourself. No one else can do it for you. A strange girl for a night couldn’t either…but a strange girl didn’t know he was imperfect – which made him feel better temporarily. In the end, until he can validate himself, he will continue to cheat. He has to feel ‘good enough’ on his own – that’s not something I can do for him. And if I need to create grand gestures for him to understand that he is loved…well, then I might suggest he work on loving himself…because grand gestures will always say to me, ‘I don’t think I’m good enough, so I’m going to do something big and fancy so that you’ll [continue to] love me.

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      4. I agree that you can only really validate yourself, but I will say it still feels good when you get something from the person you love that reaffirms your feelings. I don’t think it has to always be a grand gesture but just something to know that you are on their mind.

        I am terrible at it but am working on it. Maybe it is my anti-social tendencies that makes it so I don’t like to do the little things but I am understanding they are important.

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      5. And also – from what I know – he is currently working to change some things about himself in therapy. So, we may find each other again down the road. He couldn’t continue to hurt me…and I get that. The amount of guilt he must feel is probably monumental. His ego needed a fresh start. The real question is – can people change? I guess we’ll see. I’ll let you know in about 11 months.

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      6. That is a good question and another is can he get over the guilt and shame. I am 3 years out and there isn’t a day that goes by that I am not reminded by what I did and how much I hurt her. The guilt and shame will never end, at least not for me.

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      7. Never say never. I find that for me, when I feel guilt or shame, what helps me is to consider that maybe everything happens for a reason. Whether for you to realize how important your wife is to you or otherwise. Whether he can recover from the guilt and shame – that was an after thought after I posted last night. He may never be able to.

        At one time he expressed that to me…that he knew how much he hurt me and that he was struggling to deal with that. I acknowledge that it is hard and that his feelings are real as are his perceptions. What I said to him though, is that when he spends so much time feeling guilty over how he ‘made’ me feel – I felt like he was taking too much responsibility for my feelings. I am responsible for my feelings…and maybe, he didn’t hurt me as much as he thought he did, because I had already moved on from what happened. I was glancing into the past but not staring at it. If we live too much in the past…we can’t focus on the present. By breaking up…he made a decision for me. That bothers me.

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      8. I don’t aim to take responsibility for my wife feelings, but I often struggle to understand them. I like to think in terms of cause and effect. So when she feels back I want to know what the cause is so we can change it. Unfortunately, it is never that simple. It could be caused by so many things that are outside of our control or she may not ever really know why she is having a rough day. I know I hardly ever know why I am in a bad mood.

        What I have come to understand is that we are responsible for our actions and if we make them while being cognizant of other peoples feelings then we tend to make better decisions. We cannot make everyone happy nor should we strive to, but by thinking before we act can save a lot of pain for the people around us and ultimately ourselves (where was this think for me 3 years ago).

        As for him making the decision to break up for you, I don’t really see it that way. He chose to end his side of the relationship and that is his choice. How you deal with it is your choice? You can fight for it. You can let it go. You can keep yourself in limbo wondering what went wrong and do nothing. But the choice is still yours to make.

        If you choose to fight for him, will you get him back? I don’t know. And it may not be the right decision. However, if you let him go he may come back and try to be in your life again sometime down the road. Or he may run off to Vegas with some floozy. What I can say for certain is that you get to choose what you do and how you react. He will always make his own decisions and unfortunately all our decisions in life impact other people. His is currently affecting you, but you still get to decide how to deal with it and how to move forward. Once you believe he is not in control of you in way it becomes easier to make good decisions for yourself.

        Then again I could just be full of crap.

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  2. I see your point here. I was the same. Never thought I really deserved love. It took me years to accept my wife’s love, even though she gave it freely. Those walls we build are so difficult to chisel through. And, even to this day, it’s hard for me to get what she sees in me. But I’ve given in to it, accepted that for whatever reason, she loves me unconditionally. And like you, I’m able to give it, freely. Just so hard to accept it in return. Why? I don’t have a solid answer to that question.

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    1. I asked my marriage counselor if I was normal thinking this way. She replied that based on how I grew up it is normal, not healthy but normal. This surprised me just a little because she knows only a tiny bit about my childhood. We don’t ever talk about it. So I was surprised she could put that together.

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      1. They’re trained to decipher. Or she guessed. Either way, it makes sense. When one is made to not feel worthy during development, it carries on. And it’s hard as hell to change. Even knowing what we know when we get older and wiser. It’s like it’s hard wired or something.

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  3. This hits a nerve with me. I love with everything I have. But for as long as I can remember I’ve always felt I didn’t deserve to BE loved. I wasn’t worthy. Not with my parents, siblings, or any other relationships. I’m 43 and still struggle with feeling this way. I then try to prove my worth at Birthdays and Christmas. It’s exhausting and I still find myself feeling empty.

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    1. You can spend a lot of energy spreading you love to everyone around you but in reality it won’t amount to much unless you love yourself first.

      I struggle with this as I am the last person I want to love.

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  4. This is a really honest post. I appreciate your willingness to share what is so for you. From my point of view, you are love. It’s not something you seek. And I hear what you’re saying, too.
    Sending you blessings. Thanks for finding my blog.
    Debbie

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  5. It’s called “grace.” God teaches it by loving us when we don’t deserve it, and we’d be fools not to accept it. Forgive yourself. Don’t presume to have higher standards than God.

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