‘I just want to be loved.’
Have you ever heard someone say these words, or have you ever said them yourself?
Well I’ve definitely heard them before.
And it makes me wonder what these words really mean.
Is that what people really want? To be loved?
Most people would answer with a resounding ‘YES!’
‘Yes, I want to be loved. Of course I do.’
But could it be that, rather than wanting to be loved, it’s the experience of feeling love that people are actually searching for?
If it is, then our attention needs to shift from looking outside ourselves for love, to the more immediate experience of love which can be found within.
Yet because so few people know how to connect with love in a fulfilling way, they look to others for love instead.
They turn their attention outside in, and stop viewing life from the inside out.
Being loving focuses on me and who I am, not me and what I want
In confusing wanting love with wanting to feel love, our focus shifts outwards and we disconnect from the source of love within us.
And the feeling of emptiness only grows stronger.
Taking an inside-out approach towards life leads us to ask important questions such as: ‘Who do I want to be in my relationships?’
But what most people tend to ask is: ‘What am I getting out of this?’
By moving our attention outside ourselves we begin to feel that we’re no longer the one in charge of what’s happening in our life or how it is we’re feeling.
We then forget to ask another very important question: ‘What can I offer you, right now?’
In asking this question, we take charge of what is taking place in our own experience.
We connect with the love within us and make a choice to extend it to another.
Even so, you may still be thinking: ‘No, I’m certain. I really do want someone to love me’.
‘I know that I want someone to hold me when I need to be held, understand me when I feel misunderstood, make me feel like I’m the only person they could ever really love’, and so on.
But what does it actually mean to be loved by someone?
Well, usually, someone looks at me and decides whether I’m loveable — by their standards — or not.
That’s essentially it. Isn’t it?
Someone else decides based on how they feel when they’re with me, whether they like the things I say and do. They assess whether I meet the expectations they have on their list of criteria for how they want to live, and what I can provide to improve that experience.
They decide whether or not they feel chemistry with me, and I’m sure — even for the most enlightened person — whether they find I’m pleasing to their eye.
Keeping this in mind leads to another important question: ‘Are there things about me that I’m prepared to change to make me more loveable to the people I want to love me?’
I feel the answer to this question must be ‘no’, if we’re to be true to ourselves and our partner.
Yet people constantly change things about themselves — even though they may prefer not to — to appease others and gain their approval.
And this, most particularly, applies in our romantic relationships.
Compromise can only lead to resentment, frustration and — at its worst — disillusionment. Disillusionment of the relationship and within the individuals involved.
So do we really want to be loved after all?
Or, is it that fulfilment truly comes from learning to give love fully and well.
Most people today seem to confuse the need to have someone to share their love with, with wanting someone to love them.
When our attention is on wanting another’s love, we’re at the mercy of their ability and willingness to share their love with us.
The enjoyment of feeling love, and our desire to experience that feeling, is then completely dictated by someone else.
We become a victim of our own choice of wanting someone to love us.
In this, we hold no power to make the choice for love ourselves.
What choices do we have if our partner isn’t forthcoming in sharing their love with us?
One choice we have is to say: ‘It’s alright if you don’t feel like sharing your love with me right now’.
But in my experience, very few of us have the maturity to make this statement lovingly and honestly.
We could ask: ‘Why don’t you want to love me right now?’
A question that would most likely provoke a rolling of the eyes or some other expression of frustration. It certainly won’t lead to the desired outcome of receiving some love.
We could insist the other love us on demand, no matter what.
Or, as is common, we could simply withhold our love at a future time, when our partner is the one looking for a little love.
These responses — when looked at objectively — seem petulant, immature and quite selfish.
Yet it’s likely that we’ve all been guilty of some or all of these responses at one time or another.
This is why the focus for where love is coming from, must sit with me.
So, what does a relationship look like when my focus is on loving my partner from the inside out?
Here, I’m not talking about loving the soul within my partner before I look at their physical beauty — although that‘s ideal.
I’m talking about me being the one doing the loving, first. Every time.
Because I choose to love.
Being loving begins with me taking full responsibility for myself and my choices. Choosing to love another person makes me responsible for loving them, not the other way round.
The quality of that love, the frequency with which I extend it, and whether or not it’s offered unconditionally, are all choices I must make.
And when offered unconditionally, the love I feel overrides any decision to withhold it when things aren’t going the way I’d like.
Whomever it is that I choose to love — for whatever my reasons — it’s my choice to love them.
My choice to love them doesn’t make them responsible for how I feel, or what I think. Or even for whether or not they share their love with me. They’re the one responsible for how, when and to whom they offer their love.
Many might say at this point that relationships, by their nature, involve more than one person, so isn’t it then the responsibility of everyone involved to extend their love? Isn’t that only fair?
It would seem to make sense to say, ‘Yes, of course!’ to those questions, but really the answer is ‘No’!
And that’s because the only person I can make do anything is me.
It would be wonderful to say: ‘We’re in love now, so everything we do from now on must be completely egalitarian!’
But we all know that isn’t how things actually are. And it would be ignorant or foolish to expect them to operate that way.
This is why mediation can only get us so far in conflict resolution.
In the end it will always come back to practising the inside-out approach if we want our relationships to be strong, fulfilling and loving.
Seeing relationships from the inside-out fosters an awareness where we ask ourselves questions such as: ‘Who do I want to be in this relationship?’ and ‘What is needed of me here, right now?’
By deciding who I want to be and what I want to offer in all of my relationships, I become powerful, decisive and influential. I become someone I can love.
So what am I left with?
If I want to feel love, then I must be loving.
If I choose to love someone I must be the one to extend love—first time, every time.
Choosing to be loving is an ultimate choice for love and I am the one who benefits first.
I benefit first because I feel the love within me, before I extend it to another.
I decide how often I experience love by choosing to be the one to share it.
By choosing to share love I begin to love myself.
Feeling love and sharing love then become choices I make by myself for myself.
Love isn’t something external to us. It exists within each of us, graciously placed there by our Creator. All we have to do to experience it, is to connect with it within and then extend it out.
So, if you would like to feel the love within in you today, then this blessing is for you:
May it bless you and all those around you,
And may it guide you in all your relationships now and always.
With all my love
Image credit: David Ip