What Do You Feel When You're In Love?
I remember as a teenager listening to a lot of pop ballads about romance, love, and heartbreak. I would hang onto every word, imagining what it would feel like to fall madly in love with someone, to find a soulmate who I couldn't live without. Here is a snippet of lyrics from one of these songs:
Porque yo, ya lo sé, sí
Que dependo de ti
Si me quedas tú
Me queda la vida
Because I know
I depend on you
If the only thing I have is you
I still have my life.)
- Shakira, "Que Me Quedes Tu".
Looking back on the lyrics I realize how much this "love" that I heard about sounds like an addiction rather than a positive experience. Through the years I learned about love and life, and I now know that real Love should feel peaceful and calm. Love is caring and respecting yourself, not feeling like an addict.
Let's talk about the way that we have been taught to think about love: We learn from films, songs, TV shows, novels, etc. that "love" is a feeling of excitement (those butterflies in our stomach!): Losing your desire to eat or sleep, thinking about another person constantly to the point where you can't concentrate on your work, your heart racing -- these are all "totally normal" things that happen when you're "in love." In reality, they are totally toxic. It's basically the same as feeling anxious or scared. And it doesn't mean you have found the one.
Relationship experts warn that if you meet someone and they give you those butterflies in your stomach, it can mean that you're unsure of the situation or you're feeling anxious. It's called fight or flight. Your body is telling you that you're not safe. The only difference between being "in love" and being panicked is the story that you tell yourself, but your body doesn't know the difference.
On top of it all, your body becomes addicted to this feeling. Studies show that being "in love" is like being high on drugs. Seeking out this feeling of "love" is like intentionally putting your body through a roller coaster of stress: flooding your body with a rush of adrenaline for a short while, and then feeling empty when it dies down. In the long run, this can make you physically ill. Chronic stress can affect your body in a number of ways, including making you more prone to developing cancer.
If you're thinking, "wow this 'love' feeling we're encouraged to seek out is starting to sound more like a dangerous drug..." it's because you're right, and it is.
So ladies, if a guy makes you feel off-balance, like you can't concentrate on your daily tasks, and you feel a rush of adrenaline every time you hear from him, run. Meeting the right person will feel safe, calm and peaceful.
We all want to be desired, to be pursued. But these are the desires of our ego (our wounded inner child) to feel validated -- to be saved by some knight in shining armor. Sound familiar? However, it is not real. You are your own savior and you are responsible for caring for yourself and loving yourself. Be selective with who you allow into your life, your safe space.
You may think "this is much less exciting, I want to feel like my insides are going to explode when I am with my partner." Think about what this feeling really means. Are you at peace, do you feel that your life is balanced, do you feel aligned? If not, then you are engaging in toxic behavior, just like consuming a drug that you know is dangerous.
The truth is, Love is peace, it is calm, compassionate, kind, respectful, and unconditional. Reframe the way you think about love, and seek those experiences that make you feel safe and at peace. Your well-being depends on it.