Have you ever been pissed off at an ex for leaving you?
Maybe even so pissed off that you wanted to get revenge on the person you used to love?
Have you ever felt like you wanted to stay in a relationship that was bad for you?
Even if you don’t, I’m sure you’ll agree that these are common sentiments. We see people around us feel like that all the time. Sometimes it’s taken to extremes:
We all have a friend who keeps going back to the same person despite all our warnings. We all know someone at work who gets stalked by a crazy ex. Or worse, a former lover is actively trying to ruin their lives.
It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right. It’s safe to say you don’t want that drama in your life.
And if you currently feel like someone shouldn’t have left you. Or that “you can’t let them go”, you would like that horrible feeling to be over as well. Agreed?
The root cause of this behavior (and the feelings that caused it) is a feeling that most people would describe as “love”. But the truth is that it has nothing to do with it.
Let’s say you fall in love with someone, you start a relationship, and the result is that both of you are super happy all the time. You sleep together every night, you do all the little things together. You feel like you’ve met your “other half”. The person to make you “whole again”.
But then one day when you never saw it coming, they come up to you and say “I’m sorry. I don’t love you anymore. We’re breaking up.”
That’s it… Their was no cheating. There was no bad behavior. They just didn’t feel it anymore and left.
How would you react?
Obviously it would break your heart, and you’d definitely need some time to get over it. I think anyone would feel like that. But would there be anything else?
Would you get mad at them for leaving you like that?
For robbing you of the amazing future you had together?
Would you feel so depressed about it that you couldn’t continue living your normal life and making responsible decisions?
I never realized it before, but apparently, these are very common reactions. I’ve seen a lot of people treat each other in horrible ways after a breakup. And I’ve seen people treat each other equally terrible when they were still together, but something made them feel jealous or scared that their partner might leave them.
These people (and if that’s you, don’t take it as criticism) think they are in love. But they are not.
They are with someone who makes them feel good And the thought of that feeling being taken from them is something they can’t stand. So if that person would take the feeling away from them, they would do anything to get it back. Or stay angry forever if they can't.
When you read what I just wrote there, would you say that description would be a good one to put under “LOVE” in the dictionary?
Of course not. That’s not love at all. It’s attachment and dependency.
A heroin addict is not “in love” with heroin any less than you are with your partner if you feel that way. It’s the same emotional addiction, just a more beautiful package.
“I can’t live without you” may sound like a romantic compliment in Hollywood movies. But if you think about what it really means, it’s not that romantic at all. It basically says “I use you like a drug. I need the effect you have on my psychological state, or I will not be able to function normally.”
Like I said, that’s an addiction. Not love.
Love would be more like: “I feel great with or without you. But I choose to have you in my life everyday because I absolutely adore the person that you are. If you would be happier without me, then go do that. Do whatever is best for you, but I’d be delighted if that includes me somewhere.”
Who Is It About?
Even if you just read that and suspect that you and/or your partner may be emotionally addicted to each other, it’s very tempting to think “but we also love each other!”.
When you are emotionally addicted to someone, I can imagine it feels that way. Like they’re the only person in the world who can make you happy like that.
But the truth is, when what you feel towards someone is “I love you, but only if you never leave me. Then I will hate you.” …then what you are feeling has nothing to do with the person you think you love. The only thing it means is that you’re afraid of being left alone.
People usually think that the more effort they do to “hold on” to someone, the more it shows how much they care about them. But it doesn’t. It only shows how much you care about yourself, not being alone.
In contrast to love, these emotional addictions never lead to anything good. With long-term consequences ranging from chronic stress and constant fighting, all the way to murder or suicide (in extreme cases).
The Abundance Illusion
Most of the people I coach come to me for dating advice. I’m also active in a lot of online communities about it. There's a great mix of people in there, ranging from severely damaged to highly conscious. And they all have in common that they want to get better.
One very common piece of advice given to young men in these groups, to avoid acting needy, is this:
“You need to have an abundance of women in your life. If she is the only person you have, then it will make you desperate and clingy. But if you know you always have others, you’ll act less needy. Which is more attractive as well.”
On the surface this makes a lot of sense. I used to believe it as well. But it’s not that simple.
But a couple of years ago, something happened that made me realize this is not true.
I was in between 2 relationships and not looking for a new one. It was a very interesting period for me. I went out every single night. I often did it alone without telling my friends. Because that would force me to talk to strangers and get very good at it. It was a great way for me to learn to read people’s body language and the way they reacted to what I said. It really improved my social skills and appreciation for all kinds of different people. And a lot of those were women, so it also led to that whole “abundance” thing people rave about.
I usually enjoyed this casual sex a lot. But one night something happened:
I was with a woman, and I started to get a weird feeling about me. There were some things she said and did that made me think she actually didn’t care whether I was having a good time or not.
I realized she just saw me as a cock, that unfortunately had some dude attached to it. (I guess most women who read this can relate to that feeling somewhat.)
This made me stop and think for a moment.
If all this woman cared about was me making her happy for a moment, and didn’t give a fuck about me… Then why was I there? Was I doing the same thing as here?
I guess I was. She was pretty, friendly, and respected me. But I didn’t specifically like her better than other people either.
After that night, I started to observe myself. And I realized that of all the “abundance” of women I had in my life, most of them were not in it because I liked them more than other people. . They were only in my life, because they were pretty and didn’t act in ways that I don’t like. And because they created this illusion of “abundance” that made me believe I wasn’t emotionally addicted to anyone.
But that was not true. I was tricking myself like many other guys. And here’s why:
In relationships, it’s the same thing.
Just because you have multiple (potential) partners in your life that make you less worried about one of them leaving you, doesn’t mean you’re not emotionally addicted anymore.
Like I said, the emotional addiction is not about the other person, it’s about you.
So having “abundance” in your dating life doesn’t fix anything.
All it does is give you more people you can use to try fill the emptiness inside you with. Good job!
But the way you relate to those people is actually still the same. Sure, you’re not clinging to one person anymore. But you’re still clinging to “other people” in general.
The Fear of Being Alone
When this is the case, you’re clinging to other people because you fear being alone. Because there’s a big hole inside you somewhere. An emptiness that you don’t want to be confronted with. So you always try to be with someone who can fill that hole with happiness.
But other people will never be able to fill that hole for you (unless you’re a woman, or a guy who’s into it 😉 )
The hole is bottomless. Anything that you put into it to try to fill it, will just fall out on the other side. You’ll enjoy the feeling of being fulfilled for a moment, but after that it’s gone. Just like you need another cigarette, another drink, or another piece of candy, you will need another dose of what you think is “love” in order to fulfill you.
For that reason, you will never be able to truly receive other people’s love. It will just fall through you.
The only way to fill that hole is to accept it. To learn to love yourself first. To love yourself with all your flaws, dark sides and mistakes. To love yourself until the hole is not only filled, but it becomes a cup that spills over. And you’re overflowing with love that you can now share with all the people you meet.
This all sounds like nice and poetic hippie garbage, but I promise you: People will notice it. It’s real.
What’s in it for you then?
Well, now that you’re no longer desperately trying to fill this emptiness inside you, you’ll also finally be able to receive someone else’s love and feel it in your entire being. Instead of just having it fall through the hole.
But then again, once you feel that way, you probably won’t be asking what’s in it for you anymore in the first place. Because now, when you are with someone, it will be about the other person. While at the same time, you’ll love yourself enough to not stay with anyone that’s treating you bad or making your life worse.
Whether it’s a relationship, a friendship, or casual sex, it’s only healthy for you when it’s 2 people coming together who already are at peace with themselves, and appreciate each other.
Any sexual/romantic meeting, however brief, is at its most beautiful when it’s an EXPLORATION of each other, not an EXPLOITATION.
Exploring each other is an endless source of beauty. Exploiting each other inevitably ends to you both feeling worse than you did at the start.
How to Learn to Love Yourself and Stop Being Afraid of Being Alone
It’s easy to confuse loving yourself with narcissism, but they’re actually polar opposites (I thought I wrote an article about that, but turns out I didn’t. Maybe later 😉 )
So learning to love yourself is not about constantly reminding yourself how awesome you are.
Instead, the first step is self-acceptance.
Be honest with yourself. How are you currently relating with the people in your life?
Would you get mad if they left?
Would you make all kinds of efforts to convince them not to?
If they did, would you seek revenge?
It’s okay if you do. The most important thing is that you admit, and accept it’s how you’re feeling right now. We all have emotional wounds. It’s okay. Now instead of continuing these patterns, seek help.
If you’re afraid of ending up alone, confront that fear. Make a conscious choice to end up alone, for now…
It may seem like a horrible idea, like you need other people to be happy. But you can’t expect anyone to give someone a sense of well-being they don’t feel on their own.
If this is the case with you, the best thing you can do is be in a relationship with yourself first.
Take a break from dating, don’t have sex for a year for all I care. Get rid of your other addictions.
Spend lots of time alone. And I don’t mean alone watching TV or texting. I mean alone in silence with no distractions. Just observing your thoughts for a few days.
When you feel bored, don’t go hang with people. Be alone instead and don’t avoid the feeling.
Maybe start traveling alone.
Every night before you go to sleep, sit in silence with your eyes closed for 20 minutes and watch what happens inside you.
Spend as much time you need doing these things. The end result we’re going for here is you deeply realizing things like…
“Hey. Even though I prefer being with people, I can actually handle this world and its unexpected challenges. On my own.”
“If I WOULD be alone for 2 years, I’m pretty sure I would still be happy.”
Because from that point on, every friendship, relationship or casual encounter will be an enrichment to both of your lives. Not a requirement.
And you’ll start lifting each other up instead of abusing the other for your own happiness.
Doesn’t that sound great?
Golly, it sure does 😉
So put as much time in this as you need. No matter how horrible it feels in the short term, it’s worth taking your time to go through it.
It’s an investment in your future self.
And everyone else you meet will thank you for it as well 🙂
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