Most of us wish to be close to someone without getting destroyed in the process. If you have ever loved and lost, you will understand how hard it is to open up and to offer your heart yet again.
The reason why people don’t love more is related to the fear of getting rejected, betrayed and hurt. It’s the fear of getting hurt that stops people from loving more, and being more receptive to love. If people were assured of safety, they would be far more willing to open and to be vulnerable to the feelings of surrender that love requires.
Other people don’t love us for our lovable qualities, although they may think they do. Someone loves us because he or she is willing to take the risk of opening and becoming vulnerable, and it has less to do with us than we would like to believe.
Love is a verb: it requires action. You have to do it if it is going to happen to you, because love is conscious and voluntary and it cannot be forced. Thus, if someone says “I don’t love you,” there is nothing you can do to make him or her love you, because it is entirely within the other person’s control. Don’t try, therefore, to make someone love you. It doesn’t work.
Love is a feeling, and no matter how hard you try, you cannot promise that you’ll feel a certain way in the future. You can make a commitment to remain together, but you cannot promise love. In spite of the fact that the vows that we shall “love and honor” our spouse, we cannot authentically promise to love someone into the future with any degree of confidence and reliability.
If you wish to learn more about yourself and how you love, try answering the following questions, adapted from Roger Walsh:
- Describe a time and a situation in which you felt loved
- Describe an experience in which you loved
- Describe a situation in which you did not love
- Describe a time in which you did not feel loved
- What is it that you value most about the experience of love?
- What is it you most fear about loving?
- What do you believe loving more would cost you?
- What do you fear being loved more would cost you?
- In order to love more fully, in what ways would you have to quit underestimating yourself? In what ways would you have to quit underestimating other people?
- What could you do to love more fully right now?
Be sure you answer these questions as fully as possible, especially the last question. We are capable of loving more than we do, and we have more control over our love—and how deeply we feel it, and how much we offer it—than we are normally aware of. Love is something that we can more fully feel and give to others. All we have to do is stay conscious of what we’re doing, and to conquer our fears.
Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; re-made all the time, made new.” Ursula K. Leguin