Do you love fearlessly? Or are your relationship goals and dreams being sabotaged by your fear of ‘loving someone too much’? In the game of romance, it’s one thing to proceed with caution, pragmatism and common sense. However, it’s another thing to have unrealistic expectations of relationship paradise when carrying the attitude of “I don’t want to put myself out there like that”. Some of you reading this have built walls around your heart and mind so insurmountably wide and thick, it makes the Great Wall of China look like an old rickety chain-linked fence.
Oddly enough, we see the opposite plastered all over the walls, posts and comment sections within social media – hashtag Relationship Goals (#RelationshipGoals). The fawning and romanticization over Instagram, Youtube and Facebook representations of seemingly ‘perfect’ and ideal relationships. From glossy portraits of couples embracing in front of brightly colored blurred backgrounds; to tear jerking, cleverly executed surprise marriage proposal videos; to Michael Bay inspired wedding reception films shot in ultra HD 4k quality, equipped with swooping crane shots, explosions, smoke machines, transformers and choreographed dance routines. Young women (and even some men) are tuning in religiously to watch ‘Influencer Couples’ broadcast
staged and scripted authentic, spontaneous, true-to-life depictions of their day-to-day relationship meanderings, trips to exotic places, silly pranks and beautiful family life for clicks, views and ad revenue designed to entertain, and most importantly to inspire.
The response from viewers to this All Access voyeuristic pass into LOVE are nothing short of endless heart emojis and fuzzy sentiments lamenting the desire to have similar relationships and partners. There is only one problem – few are actually willing to put in the real-life work required to have the real-life versions of the types of relationship love they fantasize over, and worse, compare their own relationships to.
There is a failure to understand that real-life relationships are not plug-and-play. They don’t “just happen”. They don’t simply fall into ones lap ready-to-go out the box. They are built, require sacrifice and in the case of this post, require vulnerability. Being too reserved with your feelings is the kiss of death to your relationship goals. Let me explain.
Several winters ago, as a passenger during a treacherous snowy car ride home with two femme fatales, I was privy to a brief conversation the two women had as we rode along cautiously in tha bluff’ing snow. What begun as an awkwardly polite exchange about the weather & traffic conditions soon became a rather interesting observation on -of all things- love. You see, over the stereo, a song of a certain celebrated songstress began serenading our ears with sounds of some of the sweetest something’s we will ever know. <– Try saying that 3 times.
We were no more than the first few chords into the song before the two friends began lamenting disappointment in their beloved star’s tragic fall into ‘psycho-blivion’. Citing the singer’s failed relationship to be the root cause of her alleged ‘breakdown’ (as it were rumored). Admittedly, I silently shared their disappointment, but what was said thereafter soon revealed that this (along with the damp floorboard of the car) was the only common ground the three of us would share.
Their initial utterances of sympathy quickly morphed into that of ridicule and chiding disapproval. Criticizing not the alleged perpetrator of infidelity, but instead the songstress for doing what they believed to be a common sense ‘no-no’ in relationships. And what was this gross misstep of monumental proportions you may be wondering? Well, to them, her fatal folly was simple:
Loving too much.
That’s right. Loving too much, and too hard. In their eyes, the singer did the unthinkable, thus was a fool and subsequently made even more of one because of it. In such a twisted case of irony, she was both the victim and perpetrator of her own crime of unrequited passion; allowing her heart to lead the way in her journey for happiness only to have her world thrust topsy-turvy in the process.
Now the argument of contention according to these young ladies I was riding with was this: Loving too much, i.e., giving your all unconditionally & without limit is simply not the business. Suggesting that had the singer’s love been self-regulated, that 1) she may have walked away with her perceived sanity intact; and 2) that’s just sh*t you just don’t do. Which begged the question, how many of us unconsciously not only share their view on love, but approach our dating and romantic lives with this same underlying principle?
Now before you answer that, lets examine a few things. Walk with me for a second.
Exploring this concept of ‘loving too much’ is an interesting journey because to better understand it, one must first understand the reasons why a person would want to avoid doing just that.
Let’s look at LOVE.
**Love Cap (n) lúv-cap: a protective mechanism in the form of any action or non-action that serves the purpose of limiting and even preventing the bonding experience from occurring.
As we all know, Love requires vulnerability and an investment of emotions. It requires placing trust in someone else to value your heart and existence. It also requires trust in your self to do right by your partner by offering them the same. All of this is predicated on one’s faith that the relationship will be successful. It is with this faith that propels us all to love comfortably and unconditionally…or not.
Now assuming all things are great, this is the progression one would hope occurs naturally as time goes on and the relationship grows. Symbolizing your leap of faith from the safety of doubt’s edge; letting yourself go and trusting the wings on the back of your relationship to support the weight of two, all while believing in your partner’s firm embrace to never let you fall. That is, unless, the person(s) involved has placed a limitation on their love. You see, for many of us, contrary to our own self-delusion, our faith isn’t as strong as we would like to believe. And in comes the ‘Love Cap’.
What if there is a hesitation to love hard and all the way? Not quite a Fear of Intimacy in its true clinical phobic sense, but rather a milder less aversive reaction. A sort of ‘Love Cap’ if you will. A self-imposed ‘do not pass go’ point recognizable only to the individual who feels a need to have one in place. It provides a boundary of emotional distance that limits the level of emotional engagement one has with another, while still allowing him/her to function ‘normally’ within the relationship. Therefore keeping intact the individual’s ability to participate in all forms of intimate activities, but just not allowing him/her to get ‘too caught up in them’. Essentially ensuring that one’s love doesn’t flow beyond an acceptable measure of comfort. In other words, loving smartly, cautiously, and with conditions.
So one might ask, “if a loving prosperous relationship is the objective, then why the opposition to let love overflow”?
Well, if our songstress’ circumstance was any example, to ask the question is to answer it. Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, no one in their right mind desires to get their heart broken. Its not rocket science that a good many of us are afraid of being vulnerable, especially when it comes to our emotions. For some, that level of vulnerability is on par with falling asleep at home, only to wake up booty butt naked in the middle of Times Square on a sheet-less mattress. It’s frightening. Which illustrates why the need for a ‘Love Cap’ represents an underlying fear of the potential heartache a failed relationship attempt can bring.
A person’s unwillingness to relinquish complete emotional control also reveals a lack of trust and faith in either oneself or the partner to meet the expectations of the relationship. The result being a delicately choreographed dance between head and heart (more head than heart), that keeps the risks of being hurt and disappointed at a perceived manageable level. A level where if you were to fall, you could still pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and walk away with only minor bruising.
But what is love without vulnerability? Furthermore, what is love without trust? That’s simple: It isn’t. It’s frustration. If there is a limitation placed on love (a la Love Cap), then by default the relationship (much like the love) will be handicapped in fulfilling its true potential. Essentially undermining the very purpose of its pursuit. Much like air to your lungs, to deny the possibility of vulnerability is to deny the existence of love.
So what of the Songstress? Well, to the cynical, if the rumors of her heartbreak induced insanity are true, she serves as a prime example of why a ‘Love Cap’ would be necessary. The reality is, loving hard and all the way, doesn’t mean your lover will or have any obligation to reciprocate. Unfortunately for her, she found this out the hard way only after loving the wrong person, the right way. A scenario many want desperately to avoid.
In the end, one thing can be said: She probably knows love in a way many of us still daydream about knowing, yet aren’t brave enough to experience for ourselves. There are those of us who are spectators in our own relationships. Spending most of our time cautiously tiptoeing around love than actually falling into it. Stealthily navigating our relationships, unaware that in order to truly enjoy the liberating experience of swimming in love’s waters, we will eventually have to let go of that wall.
So to the ladies and gentlemen I ask, “Do you love fearlessly? How many of you are brave enough to let go and fall completely in love”?
Do you have a ‘Love Cap’ and struggle with it in your relationships? If so, what would it take for you to let it go so that your love can flow freely? The floor is yours.
** Yes I enjoy making up words and terms.
Post updated on 01/15/19 & 07/24/20: Originally entitled “Lost on Love: The Art of Loving Selfishly”