I was talking with someone the other day when out of the blue they admitted that they have never really felt loved. They had been in relationships, one of them for some years, but they wistfully revealed that, whilst they had loved the other person with all their heart, they had never really felt loved them self. ‘How could that be?’ they asked. I replied with a question in return – how would they know if they were being loved?
‘I’d feel happy’. they replied. ‘It would be sublime’. ‘Happiness is a feeling, an emotion, in its own right.’ I said ‘Happiness can be felt in many other situations too. How does it feel to be loved?’ They listed some more things they would get by being loved like attention, little gifts, great sex, not feeling alone but feeling supported, sharing intimacy. This is the way you define a relationship. This is your idiosyncratic set of expectations of what it’s like to be in love, I explained. It’s great when you meet someone who has a similar definition or set of expectations, but when it comes down to it, you can’t feel loved from another person.
A person may love you with all their heart, do nice things for you, devote their attention to you, desire you, make love to you, but you can’t feel their love. They feel their love. Feelings come from within. So you may enjoy their company, feel flattered, sense your pulse quickening, become aroused, you may even love them too, but the only way you are ever going to feel loved is if you love yourself.
I see so many people throw over or drive away devoted partners, or even potential ones if they are still looking, because they don’t feel loved. They fool themselves into thinking that the other person doesn’t really love them, doesn’t love them enough, or doesn’t love them the right way, even when their expectations of being in a loving relationship are well matched. All that is really lacking is that they don’t love themselves. There is no feeling ‘to be loved’, there is only ‘to love’.
You demonstrate your love to another with kisses, touches, gifts of time and attention, eye contact, soft words and caresses, but how do you demonstrate your love to yourself? Do you give yourself time – meditating, doing things alone that excite you, impassion you, make you feel wonderful or worthy? Do you give yourself attention – pampering, relaxing, caring for your body and mind? Do you ever look into a mirror and instead of noticing grey hairs, or bags under the eyes, or a nose that’s too big, notice beauty or vulnerability? Do you see reflected a person worthy of love? Do you say to yourself in that mirror “I love you”? Do you pay yourself a compliment or speak soft loving words, or is the inner voice unleashed harsh, critical or sarcastic?
It’s a habit and a choice you make, and maybe it’s time for a change. Let the love flow – and direct a little in your own direction. The way to feel loved starts with loving yourself.