“Once we make our relationship choices in an adult way, a prospective partner who is unavailable, nonreciprocal, or not open to processing feelings and issues, becomes, by these very facts, unappealing. Once we love ourselves, people no longer look good to us unless they are good for us.” ~David Ricco
One thing I particularly love is caring about someone and loving them. Being able to do so gives me a great sense of connection, satisfaction, and purpose. It’s fulfilling, life-enhancing, and simply feels wonderful.
All my life I’ve chased relationships so that I could get the love I need. But I used to struggle with choosing suitable partners.
For my dreams to become a reality, I needed to choose partners who also wanted what I wanted. I needed people who also wanted to care and love someone—preferably me—and create a life together.
Instead, I chose emotionally unavailable people who either did not know how to create emotional connections or who simply didn’t want them.
And so, my dreams never became reality. What I experienced instead were highly distressing and unhealthy relationship dynamics.
I felt devastated that I wasn’t loved the way I wanted to be loved. I felt unliked and unwanted.
I may have been in a relationship, but I was, most certainly, alone. My ultimate nightmare. My deepest fear.
After way too many years in hopeless relationships, I had a huge insight that completely transformed my life and my experience of relationships.
And all of a sudden it dawned on me…
My pain in these relationships didn’t come from them not loving me. It came from me not loving them. It came from me loving them less and less with every unloving experience we had together.
In the beginning of the relationship the positive, excited, and loving thoughts and feelings I had about them felt wonderful. I enjoyed imagining all the happy and fun times we’d have together. I was excited in their presence because I anticipated passion and intimacy.
And then none of that happened.
I felt crushed and disappointed, and yet, I kept soldiering on wishing that they would change. I was hoping that I could earn their love and finally get the love I had been craving all my life.
But it didn’t happen.
Instead, I was called names, lied to, cheated on, dismissed, invalidated, shamed, rejected, and ignored.
And, without realizing it at the time because I felt too heartbroken about the way my partners behaved toward me, I stopped loving them. These experiences chipped away at my love, hope, and trust and eventually, I stopped caring.
I went numb.
I lived my life and got by just fine on the outside, but there was a void within me. A quiet and hopeless state of surrender threaded through my days, months, and years.
Until my insight about where my feelings were coming from, I had always believed that my pain was caused by my uncaring and neglectful partners.
I hadn’t realized that I wasn’t giving myself an opportunity to care and love for someone the way I wanted to by staying with people who clearly weren’t interested in creating healthy and intimate relationships.
I was staying with partners who I had lost all respect for, certainly didn’t love anymore, and also no longer cared for. I used to think that I still cared, but I know now that I mistook guilt for care.
I was so preoccupied with them not loving me that I didn’t even realize that I no longer loved them. And so I stayed. I stayed while being trapped in my codependent conditioning. And if it hadn’t been for my powerful insight, I probably would have continued that soul-destroying relationship pattern.
Freeing myself from that pattern has allowed me to figure out what I want and then make appropriate choices that enable me to get it.
I now know that I need to choose people who make it easy for me to love them, and that doesn’t mean that we need to agree on everything and never have arguments. It means that they value and respect the bond we have. It means that together, we keep it safe so we can continue to love and care freely.
Since then I have created healthy and fulfilling relationships—not just with others but especially with myself, something I had never even wanted in the past but that has been completely transformational for me, my emotional well-being, and surprisingly, for my relationships too.
I now share my codependency insights so others can free themselves from their codependent conditioning too by having their own realizations and insights. Because that is the only way to finally get the love you need.
About Marlena Tillhon
Marlena helps people who struggle in relationships, due to codependency, insecure attachment, and unresolved trauma, develop and change in ways that allow them to finally get the love they need. She works as a psychotherapist, relationship coach, and clinical director and loves to connect on Instagram or via her Love with Clarity Facebook group and page. She is an expert in human relationships and sees them as the lifeblood of a meaningful existence.