Sexuality & Relationships Expert Forum
Love Is...
About This Forum:

This forum is for questions and support regarding relationship issues such as: Abstinence, Arousal Problems, Birth Control, Cohabitation, Commitment, Communication, Couples Counseling, Desire /Lack of Desire, Sexual Technique.

Font Size:
A
A
A
Background:
Blank
Blank
Blank
Blank Blank

Love Is...

...I don't know. A recent series of events have led me to question a lot about myself. A friend of mine recently told me, "I firmly believe you can't love someone else until you can love yourself." After that, he proceeded to tell me that he thinks I don't know what love is. He's a friend, so this was not done for argument's sake.

Unfortunately, he's not the first person to tell me this. So I'm left wondering if I really have any clue what love is. Do I love myself? I think I do. Have I never really loved another person? If not, what was it that I was feeling at the times I thought I was loving another person?

I am plagued by this new realization and convinced that I am merely "damaged goods" and such is life. At this point in my life, feelings of self pity are disgusting and nauseating; I just want answers. If these are not real feelings that I "feel", then what are they and from where inside my heart or mind are they being fabricated?

I'm ill from the idea that I might not be normal after all. That I've worked so hard - come so far in life - only to find out I'm some sort of passive version of my sociopathic father. I writhe in the rumination of thoughts of past relationships; and their subsequent endings and/or consequences. Nary a union between myself and another woman has ever been appropriate, save my last short-lived relationship.

I'm certainly not depressed, that's for sure. I function perfectly on the surface, am relatively successful, but feel like I'm spinning violently out of control inside. My pockets aren't deep enough to finance therapy, so I turn to you.
Related Discussions
242520_tn?1211304279
Well, as you know ( since I can tell from your letter that you are a highly literate and intelligent person) that I don't know enough from this letter to give you much feedback. It does sound like you do need therapy- and it might be good to sacrifice a few pennies to get some.  I am not talking about deep psychoanalytic years of investment kind of therapy- just a few sessions with a good person to help you create some kind of categories of inquiry that don't leave you  in angst about your entire life and emotional capacity.
  I do believe everyone can love-- if they sincerely want to love. You are not a replica of your father or any one else. The mere desire to know yourself better means you are not sociopathic.. I wish I could tell you a good path for personal reflection- but your letter is really general- and rambling - and hard to pin down where the essential question lies.

   You do have to " love yourself" to love another- but you probably do- at least some of the time. All this means is that if you really don't like yourself- you won't respect a person who truly loves and respects you- so it dooms the relationship-
   I am sure that something is blocking your ability to love another- but there could be so many reasons I dare not hazard a guess at this point-still- I think , truly, do yourself a big favor and spend a couple of sessions with someone. It really would be worth your time and money.
30 Comments
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I would not say that the reason relationships have failed is because you do not love yourself, so therefore I do not think that you are "damaged goods."  I have a friend who is in the situation of she wants to be in love and find true love, someone to share her life with, but a.) she doesn't know what it is and b.) she doesn't like who she is now, but doesn't know who she is supposed to be either.  I am sure that you will find someone within perfect timing, but maybe you should ask yourself an important question of what is your purpose here on earth?  Finding the answer to that long-asked question may give you direction on where to go next.  I recommend "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren, it is a very easy and rewarding read.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Great Book!!!
Blank
127596_tn?1210926222
Bearhitch, I don't think my relationships have failed because I don't love myself  - they've failed because they were all woefully inappropriate. I question whether or not I truly love myself because I allowed myself to get into those relationships.

I don't have trouble finding women. Excuse my immodesty, but that's hardly a problem. Additionally, my purpose here on earth, in my opinion, has nothing to do with whether I am capable and emotionally equipped to properly love myself or another human being. We're talking about two completely different issues here.

I appreciate the book suggestion, thank you, but I don't think literature on why I'm here will help with this problem.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
from reading your post id say you have self love issues. you say you are able to function properly on the surface. what about inside? where it counts? depressed people funtion fine to the eyes of the world, but inside they question it. i dont think you are doomed to not have a good relationship but you probably need to work on the one you have with yourself. there are tones of family issues you worry about. you said you are fairly succesful so therapy has to be something you can do. ins usually covers some or they will use the sliding scale for those that dont. you sound very educated and determined to make this work for you, but if everything is failing its time to step back and fix the problem. good luck in your soul searching.
Blank
127596_tn?1210926222
SW, I was awaiting your reply, thank you. I don't know if what is inside is depression or something else. Lately, I feel foolish to label anything as an emotion. I am fairly successful in that, at a young age, I enjoy what I do. I live on my own, I'm healthy and, for the most part, happy.

I don't gauge success by money; although I want lots of it, it won't make me any happier or any better of a person. I am otherwise a modest person of modest means and therefore cannot fund regular sessions of therapy. I don't even have health insurance nor do I feel it important enough to pay for (if I could actually pay for it).

I have tried, with various situations, for many years, to step back and fix the problem (whatever that may be) myself. It usually works. I suspect this will be different. My blue moon soul searching usually yields anger and frustration; never any concrete answers.

I don't think I am doomed to bad relationships, but I seldom attempt to engage a relationship that it is appropriate. I am drawn - perhaps by my own self-destructive behavior - to improper relationships. Married women, older mother figures, etc.

I am not content with writing myself off as a heartless sociopath who can breeze through life alone. That, to me, seems the easy way out. I want to know love; truly. I have been loved and I lament to think that I have never truly been able to appreciate that. I want to truly love myself. I want to truly love others. I am at a loss on where to begin. I know I start with myself; but where? How? What? Can the mere repetition of thought conclude me to emotional normalcy? Of course not. So what then?
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
all alone i am going to take a wild guess from your comments about your relations with the mother type. do you have issues with your mother? there is a book called Toxic Parents. maybe a book could help identify if you cannot or will not go to therapy. there are the phycology schools that give a good break for therapy as they need so many hours to graduate. you could check that out. you were awaiting my response huh? lol. worried i would lay into you? ive developed quite a name for myself here. i dont think you can have a healthy relationship untill you try to learn and fix what has made you feel this way. you said young, how young? is there any way you are just reading too much into this and its not really a problem? dating a married person is the safe way to protect yourself from harm since they will most likely not leave their spouse. but you need to realize what harm it can be for the family. stay away from that. you dont need a gun totin lunitic hurt husband coming around! plus it isnt right. im sure i havent helped much but i offer my opinion with sincerity.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
"higher than a mountin, thicker than water"....lallalala
remember the bee gees?
sorry thats all that came to mind when i read your title.
anyway, i forgot how old you are? you mentioned it way back and i forgot. i agree with a lot of what sailors said in that perhaps you are thinking too much into this. although, if you are drawn to married woman and relationships do not last, could be the basic fear of committment issue. at least you know and are aware that these relationships are toxic and are steering clear. whats wrong with not knowing what love is right now? you just havent met the one as of yet. you cannot, if she is married. maybe you just are not ready to be in love and in a relationship. maybe you need to date and see woman, have fun? so what if they are older. maybe you need to be told what to do...as most men do..LOL..just foolin' seriously, you sound a lot like my friend (but she is a woman). she was with someone for 8 yrs and fooled around with a married man, and about 15 yrs older than her. she always seems to seek out relationships she does not deserve or that could potentially "tie" her down. she likes the excitement of it all. the mysteriousness, the attention, the allure.
i think you will feel differently one day...when you find "the one" try not to think about it all too much or you may miss out on her.
Blank
127596_tn?1210926222
SW, yes, I suppose I have some "mother issues". A psychology school sounds like a viable option. Perhaps you know where I can find more information?

And no, I was not worried you would "lay into me", rather I knew I would get an accurate, no BS reply from you. You're witty, intelligent and insightful - as evidenced by your reply.

In my opinion, "young" is a state of mind. But if it is of importance, I am 27. Yes, I very well could be reading too much into this. But that doesn't change the fact that something's wrong.

I've never taken issue with committing to a woman I felt was worth committing to. That said, I discussed with my last (married) girlfriend, the idea of her leaving her husband - who happens to be a good friend of mine. Perhaps that paints a more colorful picture of the person I am ('colorful' being the operative euphemism).

I broke up with her, but the repetitious behavior is as damning as the relationships. I appreciate your sincere opinion and, considering my only other alternative - talking to myself, you HAVE helped. Thank you.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
oh..alright..i see where i stand in all this. my advice is chopped liver! lol..just kidding. you'll find your answers.
Blank
127596_tn?1210926222
Oceans, 27, as mentioned above. I have been known to dwell, but something tells me I'm not giving this whole thing more thought than needed. As mentioned above, commitment is not a problem for me with the right woman.

There's nothing wrong with not knowing what love is right now. I'm not looking for love per se, rather I'm trying to figure out if I've ever known what it really is to begin with. Has anyone ever told you "you don't know what love is."? I've been in many relationships; I've used the "L" word with those few women I felt were exceptional. I felt something for them - something I thought was love, but am now questioning.

Incidentally, I was recently broken up with by my last girlfriend. She was the one. There's no question in my mind. I certainly did not miss out on her.

This whole "love" thing is not something I think about on a regular basis. Until recently, it's never been a problem for me. Only after some very valid questions were raised to me have I really given this any thought. These are my crossroads. I am not sullen for lack of companionship; I can have any woman I want. I am not depressed from lack of something deeper, nor am I afraid of commitment. I'm trying to figure out if my emotional capacity matches that of a four year old.
Blank
127596_tn?1210926222
"oh..alright..i see where i stand in all this. my advice is chopped liver! lol..just kidding. you'll find your answers."

If I'm to receive individual replies, then out of respect and courtesy I feel so should those who answer me.
Blank
156714_tn?1254715757
I would like to share something with you that I realized about myself not more than a year ago and maybe you can relate a little bit.  I've gone through my whole life with a smile on my face, but feeling completely out of control on the inside.  People used to say I was fake because I smiled so much and didn't understand how someone could be so happy all the time.  I mean, everyone has a bad day right?  Well, if I had a bad day, no one knew it and I thought it was really making me feel better to smile, but the truth is, I was supressing any negative feelings I had.  I was fake.  This went on for a long time until my fiance pointed out to me that that was how I was raised.  I realized that when my family got together for functions (still do) we censored ourselves from each other.  Everything was always peachy keen. No one ever had any problems and we all had good times, even if we couldn't stand each other.  I thought everything was peachy keen too.  I had plenty of guys after me everyday of the week, I'd had a few relationships.  I let some things happen in those relationships and with other men that I am not proud of.  But I always felt like I loved the men I was with.  If it wasn't love, what was it?  Then one day, I looked in the mirror and realized how much I hated myself.  And that maybe it wasn't love I was feeling for these men, but maybe a dependancy- I needed them to love me, because I didn't love myself and I didn't feel worthy of their love and they knew this so they took advantage of me. It was a slap in the face.  It took some time to actually get to know me and start loving me but now I do.  And I don't walk around with a smile on my face all the time and pretend everything is good when it's not.  Maybe you are going through something like that?  Maybe your friend is right.  He probably just wants what's best for you.  Sorry to be so long-winded.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I've questioned whether I love myself alot.  I have trouble standing up for myself and tend to put myself down when things don't go right.  The self fulfilling prophecy -  that I'm not going to succeed....  I think it's because I try to be modest.  I don't want anyone to think anything bad about me, and therefore I appear weak.  And people walk all over you when your weak.  I have trouble deciphering how to be a strong yet modest woman around people.  Thats where I question whether or not I love myself. Am I depressed?  I try to please everyone.  Does that make me a doormat? People tell you, 'no one can love you if you don't love yourself.'  I have a boyfriend who loves me.  He sees my faults especially when it comes to me standing up for myself (to my boss), but honestly I think he may take advantage of that sometimes too.  

I have come to the conclusion that I DO love myself.  It's just very hard to know the right way to.  

I believe you will find love when it's time.  It's not because
you dont "love" yourself.  The circumstances just have to be right when it comes to love.  This is a very touchy subject!!!
Blank
127596_tn?1210926222
Jojo, after that fateful realization, what did you do to get to know yourself and start loving yourself? What is different within you now, that you know you love yourself as opposed to before when you merely thought you did?

I don't know if mine is an issue of dependency or acceptance or what. I don't know why people love me; I don't know how they can if, according to my friend, I don't love myself. I still can't comprehend that statement: "no one can love you until you love yourself." I struggle futilely trying to make sense of it.

What did it take for you to love yourself, Jojo?
Blank
127596_tn?1210926222
Sparkeler, I think there's a bit of confusion here. I am not in search of love. I am not looking for someone to love me; I am not "looking for love". That's not the issue here. I'm trying to figure out how I can know if I really love myself or not. This has nothing to do with other women or dating or commitment or falling in love or anything of that stuff. This has to do with me and the person I am and the person I've become.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Sorry I didnt mean for it to come off that way.  I just mean loving yourself, it's hard to figure it out.  Im sorry.
Blank
127596_tn?1210926222
Perhaps it is I who should apologize. This is a frustrating issue for me and has greatly depleted my patience. I'm sorry.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
all alone didnt you post about this awhile back? i remember your name and your writing style. look in the phonebood for a school and call. 27 isnt that young as far as relationships go. none of us can tell you the magic answer. nor after one post can we know your total situation. i do think some therapy to help you learn may be the best way to go. good luck on your trek to find self love.
Blank
127596_tn?1210926222
SW, I don't recall posting this situation a while back - as it has only recently come to light. I have, in the past, posted about a curious red bump on my - well, nevermind. I will look into the school therapy idea you suggested; thank you.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I think any time we question a truly abstract idea, we become confused by it. No one can tell you if you love yourself. I don't understand the problem. Is this a question for curiosity's sake, or are you really concerned that you don't love yourself? How would know if you did or not anyway? What you are going through reminds me of myself.... with the exception that I question spirituality and what is humanitys purpose on earth. I thought I had it figured out... (yeah silly, I know, that I had figured out the meaning to life) but the more I question man's existence, the more questions it leads me to. Kinda like my favorite tv show, Lost. No questions are ever answered, the situation just gets curiouser and curiouser. Maybe this situation is like when you say a word over and over until it loses meaning. Or maybe you need help. I dunno. I just want you to know you're not alone.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
you would know. you would definatley know but since yourlife is peaches and cream....nevermind
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Why are you being sarcastic towards me? I said I didn't know anything. My life is not peaches n cream and I never said it was. Wow, thanks for the hostility. I was trying to let the dude know he wasn't alone in questioning seemingly important aspects of his life. But fine. You don't have to be hateful. I'm just curious as to why you're even directing anything to me. What did I say that upset you so much?
Blank
156714_tn?1254715757
It wasn't easy.  And going through life thinking you love yourself and actually loving yourself are two different things.  I took some time to myself.  I stopped dating.  I didn't talk to my friends but maybe once a week.  I spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts.  I guess it was because I had been in a long term relationship that was unhealthy and I wasn't sure why I was unhappy so I sat and thought about why I wasn't happy and told myself I deserved to be happy, no matter what.  I actually started to think I was worthy of having things, including my relationships, how I wanted them.  But I also realized that it couldn't be one-sided.  I had to treat others the way I wanted to be treated and always be honest.  I realized that when I loved myself it wasn't easy to put up with the **** people throw at me, but at the same time I could turn the other cheek.  I can say no when I really don't want to do something. I believe in myself now.  And when you really love someone, you are always honest, always considerate, always understanding, you do things for them that you wouldn't do for anyone else.  And when you love yourself, you expect those same things from that person.
Blank
127596_tn?1210926222
Thank you. I am looking into different therapy options.


Jojo, thank you as well.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn

I was wondering if you feel worthy and deserving of receiving love ?
Blank
127596_tn?1210926222
PG, that's a great question. On the surface it seems I do feel that way. It's hard for me to even think to answer that question; I've got a lot going on in my head. The short and truthful answer to your question is no.

On occasion, I'm arrogant and egotistical; traits that would, on the surface, suggest that I'm "full of myself", or, in other words, feel as though I'm deserving of the respect that comes with being loved. But I am, unfortunately, left with facts. At the risk of seeming ingenuous, my mother wouldn't have left me as a boy if she loved me. My father wouldn't have abandoned me either; nor my brother. And the list goes on.

An endless string of troubled, inappropriate relationships throughout my life tell me I am not worthy of love. The recurring - more like relentless! - results and consequences of each passing relationship - be it with a parental figure, co-worker, girlfriend, confidant, etc. - are the only constant I've ever known: I am not capable and/or worthy of someone else's love. My stomach hurts just from typing this, because typing it out is an admission and it's a realization at which I lament without any itinerary of recourse. There's nothing I can do to change it. I cannot control the way other people feel about me. I am, for the most part, a nice guy.

This brings me to my most recent dilemma. Earlier this year, I broke off a two and a half year relationship with a married woman. I loved her; still do - if, of course, I really do know what love is. The relationship was detrimental to my mental health and way outside of any reasonable social boundaries (as is usually the case with my "love interest"). For months, I toiled over breaking up with this woman. Hers was the sweetest love I've ever known. My own mother, on her soberest, cleanest day, didn't love me as much as this woman did.

But other factors contributed to the downfall of our relationship. And so I broke it off. The proverbial straw that pushed me to do it was meeting someone else. I met a wonderful woman in the spring. I've actually known her a while, but it wasn't until earlier this year that we started dating. She's only two years older than me, never been married and was single when we started dating. No kids, "normal" baggage, etc. She's perfect. We really clicked; I was smitten through and through. After two months of dating, I bought her 62 roses - one for every day we'd been seeing each other. She brought out the best in me.

Not too long after, she broke up with me. We abruptly came to an impasse; our religious beliefs (or, on my part, lack thereof) differed and she is strong in her faith. After seven days (symbolic?) of not speaking, she called me and we got together to talk. I missed her so; her longing was reciprocal. I looked her in the eye and explained that I don't know what's beyond this life. "I only know the here and know; and I believe in us." is exactly what I told her. So we got back together.

Things were better than ever. I should note that, on the night we got back together, I told her something I was hesitant to admit (and I admitted my reluctance to her). I informed her that, after our second date, I knew she was "the one". Unfortunately, our current status (i.e., not together) doesn't change that fact. She is the one.

The atrocities of my childhood are permanently absent from my life. These days, I'm having fun and enjoying being alive. But the history replays itself in my soul and for that, I am eternally tortured. When it is my time to go, I will not be sad for I know I will finally be at peace. When I was around this woman, I tell - and I swear it - she eased my soul; she put me at peace. I have feelings for her; I don't know what to call them, but they're there and I believe they stem from the serenity in which she instilled.

Anyway, after we got back together, things were great for a few weeks. Then they changed. She became distant; sex was infrequent and she became almost completely intolerable of my little idiosyncrasies (I am, mildly, OCD). Whenever my phone rang and it was her, I was shocked. I was under the impression she wanted to see me as little as possible. I told her we needed to talk. We did; a little. Things didn't change. I finally decided that I needed to break up with her. She was obviously disinterested and that wasn't good for either of us.

At the time, she didn't get a job she was certain she was a shoe-in for. I waited. A week later, she broke up with me. Her reasons were, as previously mentioned, religion. And also that, in ten years, she saw herself with a family (i.e., kids). I do not want to have children and have been adamant about that.

In retrospect, her reasons for breaking up with me seem false; a cover-up for the truth, which I cannot figure out. We remained friends, but it was tough. I enjoyed being with her, but also wanted the "extras". Time passed and my feelings did not wane. We spoke, for the last time, last week, via telephone. I had left her a message the week before saying I wanted to see her so we could talk. She told me I should just say it over the phone; then she told me she was seeing someone. "Good for you", I said. But I was devastated. What's he got that I haven't? Or, better yet, what is he free from that I am afflicted with?

This is where "mildly" becomes a euphemism. I've done nothing ruminate over this woman since that phone call. I writhe in agony in my mind; I want answers, I want the truth. I e-mailed her but have yet to hear back. I think about her constantly - as only an obsessive-compulsive can. Throughout the day I am overcome by waves of extreme depression that last only a few minutes.

Perhaps I don't quite exude the level of brazen machismo women find sexy. But otherwise, In my humblest of opinions, I am a great catch. I'm a gentleman, I'm funny, I'm hopelessly chivalrous, I think I'm fairly intelligent - so why do people keep throwing me away? What am I doing wrong? Why am I not worth sticking with? What is so wrong with me that people can, at best, take me in small doses and then discard me forever? From my mother 17 years ago to last month's ended relationship, there's an irrefutable pattern that follows me like the plague.

Although I've digressed more than a little, the answer, again, to your question is no. Despite what I think, the facts presented are solid. I am not worthy of anyone's love. I don't need to decide that on my own; every relationship in which I've ever engaged tells me that in cold, hard facts.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn

Congratulations ! I believe you've taken a huge step by discovering some of your underlying issues and I also believe therapy can help you work through these issues. Good luck with therapy... please stick with it and find someone you are comfortable with.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Love is having your lover sit next to you stroking your back while you're heaving your guts out in the toilet. Love is when he gets up at 3am to feed the baby in order to let you sleep even though he gets up for work at 6. Love is sitting with you in the hospital after an operation, all day and all night long. Love is helping him choose a casket for his father. Love is shoveling the driveway together after a 3-foot snowstorm.

Love is NOT the **** they feed you in all those bridal books and women's magazines. Love is living together - laughing, fighting, arguing, kissing, cooking, washing, cleaning, crying, hugging. Love is doing the hardest things you could ever imagine doing, and having someone right there beside you, giving you confidence, applauding you, being proud of you, sorrowing with you, supporting you. Love is concieving a child together, birthing it together, raising it together, and watching your child go off into the world together. Love is sacrificing your wants and desires for another person. Love is selflessness.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I have just finished reading "The Mastery of Love" by Don miguel Ruiz...its an amazing book on how to love yourself
and how to truly love someone else.  He states self love
must be first, then you are able to fully give love to someone
else.  He also wrote "The Four Agreement" which i am now reading.  Very mind opening stuff for me.
Blank
Continue discussion Blank
MedHelp Health Answers
Blank
Weight Tracker
Weight Tracker
Start Tracking Now
RSS Expert Activity
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
How to Silence Your Inner Critic an...
Apr 16 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
Emotional Eaters: How to Silence Yo...
Mar 26 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
1344197_tn?1392822771
Blank
Vaginal vs. Laparoscopic Hysterecto...
Feb 19 by J. Kyle Mathews, MD, DVMBlank