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Lessons In Love – By Nicola O’Hanlon

“You might as well face it you’re addicted to Love”

 

I really love that song. But it also kinda makes me cringe because it reminds me of how I used to think about love. I wasn’t addicted to love. I was addicted to being owned, admired, shown off. Plastic love with no depth. I’ll preform how you want me to and then you’ll love me. Yuck, I feel ill. Real love is not an addictive thing in my opinion because it is not remotely attached to anything negative…including addiction.

In our obsessive, all consuming desire for the ever illusive true love, so many of us lose ourselves and fail to even understand what love is. It’s Impossible to define because it seems to mean different things to different people. I’m not an expert on love in any respect, but I can guarantee you, love from another person is not ownership, control or conformity. Neither is it admiration of your ass, your breasts or diamond rings.

We all have a need to find deep, respectful, mutual connection with another person. But for too many of us, that connection never gets past the first layer of makeup we apply to try to make ourselves remotely visually acceptable, in our visually obsessed world.

So what is real and healthy love and how do we connect fully to another person?

It’s not hard to find the answer to that one. There’s a million articles and another million books written on this topic. But instead of recounting what these articles and books tell us, I’m going to share the things that I have learned about love along my path.

You come first: It is that simple. Self-care, self-realisation, self-awareness. I could go on with the self stuff. Somewhere along the line caring about and developing ourselves became a negatively selfish act. This is more crapola that should be totally disregarded. You do you!

Narcissistic control is not love:  This is an issue not talked about enough at all. I’ve seen these relationships destroy people to such an extent they never recover. These relationships become so crazy that the victim doesn’t talk about it….because nobody would believe them. Well I believe you. If you are questioning your own sanity, your own sense of reality, your self-worth and your abilities since you got into a relationship, then you’re probably dealing with a Narcissist. You cannot win with a Narcissistic Personality. I strongly suggest you educate yourself on this disorder, starting with this.

Make your boundaries: If you have boundaries in place, you are less likely to become consumed and obsessed. If you have boundaries already and they aren’t working, then raise the bar. It is so important to know what is acceptable to you and what is not. If you keep accepting things that are just not ok with you, you will end up resenting yourself more than the other person. You must be able to trust yourself. Making boundaries and sticking to them helps that internal trust and self-respect.

 Abusive behaviour is never ok: I’ve learned the hard way, that when someone shows you who they are the first time…believe them. It doesn’t matter if it’s mental, emotional, verbal, physical or sexual. Do not, I implore you, ever accept any kind of abuse. The recovery from it is long, arduous and sometimes recovery is incomplete.

Your instinct is everything: Listen to it well. Oh how many times have I ignored my churning gut when I met someone for the first time, only to pay dearly for it later. Your instinct is flawless, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Lust and love is not the same thing: But we already know that right? Or do we? The intensity of lust is addictive. It is my experience that lust, not love makes us do stupid, insane stuff. Now a mixture of love and lust, is of course, Heaven on Earth….which will still make you do stupid, insane stuff. Caution is advised.

Kindness is the foundation: You cannot put a price on a kind partner. Kindness is in the little things. The cup of coffee in bed in the morning. The unexpected herbal remedy from the health food shop when you’re sick. The phone call first thing in the morning to see if you slept ok. And you notice that they practice kindness towards other people too. In other words, genuine concern for you and the world. If there’s kindness there is the potential for happy ever after. But a word of warning. There’s a big difference between kindness and point scoring!

No change required: You are perfectly acceptable to them on your worst days and your best days. They encourage your mad schemes and support you when they fail. It’s not an issue that you cry or laugh at inappropriate times, or that you swear incessantly. There are no conditions required for them to love you. That’s the real deal!

To listen and to be heard: If there’s a lack of or ineffective communication then there is nothing. Believe me. To have someone really hear you and to be able to really hear someone is a rare thing. To have mutual understanding means a deep connection is possible.

Compromise: There has to be ongoing give and take. However, when the other things I talked about are in place, in my experience, compromise is not a big deal.

Sex…the good kind: YES YES YES…..It totally has to be there. That is all.

I don’t believe there is a one size fits all formula for navigating relationships but I do think that if we keep what is most important to us a priority, then we can be fully present in our own lives and have a happy life with a partner or partners or part-time lovers. However you want to role is your choice.

What I am sure of is, that if we know and love ourselves deeply first we are on the right path for a great love relationship, whatever that looks like for you.

 

Nicola O'Hanlon

About Nicola O'Hanlon

Meet our Editor-In-Chief, Nicola O'Hanlon. She created this website, along with the help of the InTheRooms team in Septebmer 2015. Her work has been published in several recovery magazines, including Recovery Today, In Recovery Magazine, AfterPartyChat.com, Psychology Today and Reach Out Recovery to name but a few. She has also had her work published in two Feminist anthologies and a book of personal recovery stories. Born and raised in Wexford, Ireland she still lives there with her two children, Christopher and Jessica. Her background is in healing through Massage Therapy, Reflexology and Sechiem Energy Healer. She has combined her professional and life experience and now coaches women on how to empower themselves. She runs the Womens Wisdom Healing Circle meeting, on InTheRooms.com every Sunday (Noon est 5pm UK & Ireland), which is a non program specific gathering of women seeking support, encouragement and healing. Already an expert on how not to live life she is a constant seeker of new and better ways of being. Nature is her Higher Power and she believes in magic, crystals and blames the phases of the moon for her multiple personalities.
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4 Comments

  1. Really needed to read this today Nicky. My first relationship after separating from my husband began as a fun, sexy experience. I felt so free and happy. I didn’t even realize that I had weak boundaries from years in an abusive marriage. I didn’t have any sense of who I was outside of that marriage. I jumped into a relationship with this new guy and I absolutely fell into the trap of looking, doing, and saying whatever I thought would bring me approval. I wanted so desperately to find love and be loved, that I became someone else’s ideal mate. And when I would pull away, he would react like a kid who just lost his toy. And who could blame him. Now, I struggle with the guilt and shame of what happened. I lost myself. I tricked someone into loving me, because I felt unloveable. I put the needs and desires of another before mine. I reached a point where I couldn’t say, “no” to his requests, because if I did, he would feel rejection, and I would feel selfish and cruel. It’s only been five days since I broke up with him, and he has contacted me every day multiple times and has said that what we had is so hard to find. He wants to see me. I’m trying to hold my ground. I know that what we had was not real love, but apparently I was a really good actor. I’m trying to embrace being alone, learning how to accept and love myself, but I am an addict. Any insight or advice for me as I try to stay real would be much appreciated, Nicky. Thank you again for a wonderful article.

  2. THANKS Nicky, You have “Hit the nail on the Head” – as a “Hopeless Romantic” man, for way too long I was in relationships that had “Her” or “I” as the center of the union- when as I have come to know in my spirit, it’s always an “Equal Partnership”- I like to open doors, make my lady feel special, but all too often that was taken as a sign of “Trophy” when I never wanted anything but mutual respect- although now I live way out in the “Backwoods” and don’t see any options for a partner (I put that in my Creator’s hands) I still have the “want” and have learned to “Trust my Gut” in matters of the heart. Wonderful article!!! and of extreme importance to this “Recovering Alcoholic”, (I still open doors, and behave as a Gentleman)

  3. Fantastic article Nicky. Well articulated 🙂 Happy Valentines Day.

    G

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