About the Truth of Authentic Love: What Is It?
How do we know what true, authentic love looks like? How do we know when we truly love someone, or are truly loving? Love comes in many guises, yet true love boils down to a simple concept: true love ENHANCES life. True love is generous, expansive, freeing and encourages growth.
I wonder how many times you’ve been in a relationship when your partner, who says he or she loves you, holds you back from going out with your friends? Or tries to disrupt the relationship between you and your family? Or keeps you trapped in the relationship even though you no longer want to be a part of it?
Is your love unconditional?
How often have you told someone you deeply love them? But in all honestly still required them to fulfil certain criteria for you to love them in such a way? Does your partner need to fit into a certain sized box for you to love “unconditionally”? Because if so, then your love is not unconditional.
What is authentic love?
Authentic love is an expression of our thoughts and actions that enhance the life of another. Authentic love makes your life more expansive. You grow beyond your own limits within a cocoon that makes you feel valued and respected. You are free and supported to live your life in alignment with your values.
Invisible rules of dysfunctional love
Dysfunctional love, or bad love contracts your life. It is jealous, controlling and selfish. It has a negative impact on the time you spend with your family, friends and colleagues. Dysfunctional love may adversely affect your health by encouraging you to drink more alcohol than you want to. You may be put under pressure to take drugs, to smoke, to give up your exercise routine, to eat unhealthily. Bad love can mean you ignore your individual sleep patterns. Do you feel pressured to sleep in longer or go to bed later? Or vice versa?
Essentially your sense of who you are gets stripped away and replaced by a set of invisible rules that don’t align with your physical and emotional needs. As a result, you lose your sense of self-esteem. You withdraw from your friends and family. And before you know it, you are a walking husk of the former individual who walked into the relationship. Does this kind of toxic relationship sound familiar to you?
The high price of bad love
Bad love is not real love: it’s controlling, selfish, demanding and cruel. It contracts the person it’s directed towards and comes at a high price.
“Abusive people feel a surge of power when they discover a weakness. They exploit it, using it to gain more power.” Christina Enevoldsen: The Rescued Soul – The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal
Healthy love encourages expansion
When you are in love with someone who loves you authentically, your life becomes expansive, free and full of so much potential for growth. Healthy love makes you feel secure and makes you feel wanted for the right reasons. Your self-esteem sky-rockets. You enjoy mutual physical and emotional intimacy. You are asked to give up nothing and yet gain so much. Healthy love encourages your independence. Authentic love welcomes other people into your life who fulfil you as well as your love partner. Instead of suffocation and control, you enjoy expansive growth and contentment. Authentic love provides a platform for open communication which can lead to a deeper mutual understanding.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu
Get help or get out – while you can
When the pressure is on to prioritise your love partner at the expense of your other supporting relationships, there is something wrong. A partner who gives you bad love will most likely blame the inconsistencies on you as your strength and confidence get slowly whittled away. He or she may play mind-games with you as your life-force is gradually diluted. Be cautious of such a love partner, and ideally get out – as soon as you can.
If you’re waiting in the vain hope that the relationship will improve, it won’t, unless your partner is willing to get professional help. He or she may have been brought up in a controlling love environment and will have learned those behaviours from a very early age. If physical or verbal abuse forms part of your relationship, you owe it to yourself to live a better life.
“She preferred to be numb. And mostly these days she was. She played dead, sleepwalking her way through her life on autopilot, hardly caring whether he hit her or kissed her – it was all the same in the end.” Cleary James: The Endgame
No love is better than bad love
To live with no love is better than to live with bad love. And when you free yourself from a dysfunctional love relationship, you open yourself up to the opportunity of healthy, authentic love.
When you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship, often it might not have started out as such. But as soon as you notice the signs of dysfunctional love, get out before it leeches away at your energy and focus. When you’re trapped in a cycle of bad love, you will find it becomes all-encompassing and you become solely focussed on your dysfunctional partner. When your energy is taken up with the negativity of your relationship it can be hard to find the clarity of mind and energy to leave. If your life has become a series of arguments and you find yourself isolated in a relationship which sets you up for failure and blame, get out now.
True, unconditional, authentic love simply requires you to be true to yourself. It allows you to love openly and be loved openly. Authentic love respects your values system and enhances your life with expansion, fulfilment and self-growth.
“No, you’re not wrong to expect a love that respects and values you for the person you are. You’re wrong to expect anything else.” JM Storm
Don’t settle for less. Authentic love is out there and if you don’t already have it, create the space in your life and welcome it in.