Have you ever fallen hard for someone - like, really hard for someone - and they just didn't feel the same way about you? It's the worst! Especially when there's no sane reason this person shouldn't like us back.
Our minds start racing for an explanation...
"What's wrong with me? Am I just broken? What is it that I'm missing that he/she wants? What can I do to be 'good enough'?"
We can spend hours dwelling on awkward moments from the past, and missed opportunities. We ache for some sort of acknowledgement. We yearn for any sign that our unobtainable lover still thinks of us, even if it's a simple "like" of one Instagram photo or a text message.
We daydream about them. We create and recreate fantasies in our heads of what could or should have happened. We try to reason out why the "right" things never came to pass. We hold onto these feelings for weeks, months... even years. We sit and mull over this person - the one who got away. Some of us even resort to fantasizing that one day (after the early death or "unfortunate" breakup with their current significant other) we'll get another chance.
We can't let them go, because we are so madly, and deeply in love with them...
Ok, I hate to break it to you, but what was described above is not love. This type of over-the-top, unrealistic, intense, borderline-crazy feelings for one person is called obsession... one that we have all been guilty of (at least to a small degree) at one time or another. It's rooted in our own feelings of inadequacy and a deep-seated need for validation and approval.
Obsession almost seems to be romanticized in media. Pining over someone for years is constantly portrayed as sweet or even noble in film. When we obsess, it's common to be completely blinded by our obsession until another 'better' person provides a wakeup call... and even then we can remain in brainwashed ignorance.
Love is not a need for approval, or acceptance. Love is accepting someone because of their innate human flaws and imperfection. Love can only be given, not taken. Love is selfless. It's a desire for the happiness of others, not selfish and longing for validation or self-fulfillment.
[jbox border="2" radius="35"]"Loving someone means we don't need them but instead we want to share our lives with them, and most importantly we want to support them on their life' journey. That means giving them the foundation to let them go and be whatever is going to allow them to grow as people and to fully experience life. There is a huge difference from "you have to stay with me no matter what" or "you can't do this to me" to "I'm here loving you; go try out life".
In obsessive relationships it is all about us not the other person. And in a strange way, even though these relationships are all about us, we have no power. By needing someone we give our power away and sometimes the recipients can be quite cruel; a game that gets set up: I give you my life and you can abuse it because the truth is I'm needy and you resent me for that."
-Deborah Calla, The Difference Between Love and Obsession
We must let go of the idea that the elusive person we always wanted but never had is the only way to feel like we are "enough." We need to stop mistaking obsession for love. It's time to love ourselves and be confident that we are "enough" regardless of whether the person we care about most loves us back or not.
As Leo Buscaglia so beautifully put it, "Love is always bestowed as a gift - freely, willingly and without expectation. We don't love to be loved; we love to love."
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