What Love Is Not

What Love Is Not

Sometimes we love someone and are in a relationship with them that is built on hope. Hope for change. Hope for improvement. Hope for connection. The substance of those kinds of relationships is hope.

“Hope does not meet needs.” M. Tillhon

Real relationships are based in mutual connection, appreciation and valuing. They are built on respect, honesty and trust. We have a sense of stability and security, which allows us to grow as individuals.

There are many misunderstandings about love and relationships and the most fundamental one is mistaking fear for love. Love gives freely, is open and grows. Fear restricts and inhibits. A relationship built on fear is an unhappy one that will fail to thrive, that has failed to take off.


Love Does Not Diminish The Individual

When we truly love someone we love them for their individuality, for who they are. We see and love the separateness of them as an individual while feeling our connection with them. We do not aim to mould them, censor them or change them as a person.

We do not let them do that to us either because the most valuable thing we can bring to our relationship is us: one whole person. Our individuality is a gift to the other. It is interesting and exciting and a lifelong adventure. When we grow as individuals, we can never get boring for others – even in long-term relationships. Our individuality is a gift – to ourselves and our partner.

When we start to inhibit ourselves, censor ourselves or do this to our partner, we must acknowledge this as a taking away from the relationship. We stifle its natural flow by attempting to control and manipulate. If we are not happy with ourselves, how can we give ourselves freely and openly to someone we love without feeling inferiority, guilt or shame? If we seek to change someone we claim to love, how can they feel accepted, valued or loved for who they are?

These kinds of behaviours come from a place of fear that exists within each individual. No one outside ourselves can soothe that fear and lead us back to a state of love. There is no place for judgement or blame – just one for loving self-exploration that will eventually lead to feeling safe within oneself.


Love Is Not A Duty

There seem to be many things we feel we have to juggle as adults: finances, employment, children, chores, family … the list goes on and on. I would suggest to reevaluate this list and adopt a perspective of fun or choice instead of one of duty-filled responsibility and servitude.

No matter what goes on our list of duties and responsibilities, love should never be one of them. Love is always a choice. Love is always an action. Love always comes from our innately loving and peaceful state of mind.

When loving starts to feel like a chore, it is time to reevaluate. It is a waste of time to live a life disconnected from our loving state and it is dishonest to let someone accompany us on this lonely journey.

Being in a relationships means making a commitment to maintain your loving state of mind and express it in loving ways. We benefit and so does our partner. When we treat our relationship from a point of servitude, both partners lose. No one wants to feel like someone else’s chore. Disconnection is the inevitable consequence when we make ourselves slaves to our partner or relationship. There is no place for mindless and resentful servitude in love.

The fear this is usually rooted in is the fear of judgement, rejection and abandonment. We can begin to learn how to self-soothe and develop a stronger sense of self, which will lead to a stronger connection to our innate self-worth. Once we realise that we value ourselves, we no longer need to make slaves of ourselves. No one is truly served by that.


Love Is Not A Toy

When we come from a loving state of mind, we do not toy with people. We do not disrespect our partner and invalidate our bond by nurturing them some of the time, while devaluing them when caught up in a low state of mind.

Acting out every unpleasant or doubt-filled thought is cruel and will eradicate trust and destabilise our relationship overall. The more often this happens, the less likely that relationship will continue to exist as such relationship instability and insecurity takes a heavy toll on the individual.

When we use love like a toy that we share and then withhold depending on our moods, we put our relationship status in constant threat mode. Research shows that individuals cannot function well and develop when they live in a constant state of instability and threat.

The causes for this relationship issue are linked to fear of commitment, emotional immaturity and difficulties in emotional self-regulation and self-soothing. When we realise that all of these are thought-created and innocent creations of our mind, we can begin to stabilise ourselves so we can stop using love as a toy for punishment or reward.  


Love Does Not Wait In The Future

When we love, we are present. When we are present, we love. When we find ourselves in a relationship that requires us to work hard for our partner’s love, we don’t experience love in the present. We don’t experience love at all. We experience thought-created hope. Hope that love will one day arrive, that on that day we will finally be worthy of love, that on that day our partner will finally love us. This is an illusion and a painful experience to get stuck in.

While we are all connected as human beings, it is probably not realistic to expect to love everyone and to be loved by everyone. This may be an underlying truth but our human conditioning usually comes between us and such a deep realisation.

If someone does not love us, we do not work for it. We love them and love ourselves by walking away. We stop forcing a relationship onto them when they are unwilling to engage. We respect them and treat ourselves with respect and care by allowing ourselves to grow somewhere else and experience someone else.

Love is not something deferred to the future. It is here. Always. We must stay connected to ourselves and find someone, who is open and willing to share that connection. Love is always present. Some people are just temporarily unavailable for connection during their personal development.


Fear Temporarily Hides Love

There are many other scenarios for situations in which we mistake fear for love. Once we connect to our innate state of being, a state of pure love, we can clearly see what love is not. We can learn to catch ourselves and others and reconnect to the peaceful and complete feeling of love. We can become compassionate observers of others’ struggles and fears. We can become more aware of others available to join us in our connection. When fear falls away, all that is left is love.


Marlena Tillhon

Marlena is a progressive psychotherapist and relationship coach and passionate about helping people connect with their innate wellbeing.

Blog Comments

So true! If only I would have known this years ago! : -)

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