h2>Dating : An Open Letter to My Future Self
Read this the next time you think you’re in love
Dear Future Kelly,
I’m reaching out because you did it again. You fell in love with another emotionally unavailable man. Or, rather, “emotionally unavailable” isn’t fair. Instead: a man who couldn’t meet your expectations. And now you’re picking up the pieces of a broken heart. Again.
You’re pretty disappointed with yourself. That’s why you’re writing this letter. You should know better by now. How many films do you have to make? How many stories do you have to write before it sinks in?
You’re shaking your head at me right now, aren’t you? I know, I know. Love is real. In fact, it’s the only thing that’s real. It’s the story of love that’s the problem. The ways we talk about love, the beliefs we attach to it. The patterns of addiction that these stories and beliefs and feelings form in our brains.
You are a love addict and that is okay. All addictions are about love. Seeking it, needing it, numbing the empty hole inside of us with food, sex, drugs, work… instead of filling ourselves up with self-love.
A few months ago you flipped through magazines, sourcing and snipping words that spoke to you, and what came together when you arranged them on your vision board was this: Evolved love unlocks reality beyond here.
So what does that mean, evolved love?
Evolved love means using your rational mind to decide whether or not it’s safe to love someone — not tumbling head over heels for a feeling. Feelings are socialized and constructed; they’re not inherently real. Nothing is inherently real, you know.
This experience of being in love? You constructed it in your mind. You let these feelings of “love” get out of your control by daydreaming about this man: all the good moments you’ve shared, the future you desire with him, all the wonderful traits he may or may not even possess. This daydreaming created pathways in your brain that now have you stuck in a big emotional experience that feels So. Damn. Real.
As Kate Green Tripp explains in her fantastic essay, Untangling Love Addiction in the Brain, “…the more someone fantasizes about imagined bliss with Person X on the heels of positive interaction with them, the deeper they can fall down the rabbit hole of craving.”
Yep. That’s how love works at the beginning of a relationship. Love… Or lust. Or limerence. Or whatever you want to call it. Words are cages, dead totems anyway. What you feel is real in the sense that love is the underlying reality of all things. It’s great that you’re capable of accessing the true nature of reality so easily but the ability to access love with another human does not a healthy or successful relationship make. It’s time to stop hurting yourself by believing the story your thoughts and feelings create.
Remember: your brain is built, very literally designed to get hooked on a person, a substance, a belief… and you have a history of love addiction.
But… but… I didn’t make up those feelings at the beginning. You know, before I fixated and fantasized on them! What I felt was real… right?
As Lisa Feldman Barrett writes in the brilliant How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, “Even when you feel no sense of agency when experiencing an emotion, you are an active participant in that experience.” Our feelings feel immediate (and out of our control), but they are not. There is a rapid, subconscious process that takes place each time you experience an emotion. We’re constructing everything on the fly, making meaning out of looks and vowels, texts and touch. But the meaning we create in our minds might have nothing to do with the meaning the Other is intending.
Everything we see, feel, or think is unique to us and us alone. Reality is a Multiverse, a shared space of infinite, unique experiences. We create our worlds. They have been shaped by our upbringings, our biology, the culture, our history, and we live in these worlds — alone — as we bump and bash and sometimes sync up and dance with other worlds. Anyway, I’m getting away from my point.
You wrote him a love letter, this man, the one of many, the special, imperfect, deeply felt connection you talked yourself into. You didn’t send the letter, thank god. You’ve learned a thing or two along the way. It’s a beautiful letter, but how much of it is about you and him and how much of it is about the things you want to communicate to him?
This is something else you do: you try to help people. It works well with women because you are not seeking romantic relationships with them. It works well with gay men, too — or any man with firm boundaries and for whom you have no attraction.
Certainly, your job on this planet is to help people. To communicate new concepts in easily digestible ways. To evolve the consciousness. But you keep breaking your heart along the way. Sure, it is how you’ve learned and grown… but when is enough going to be enough?
That’s what you texted him after he told you he was only interested in friendship. You told him that he needs better boundaries for his energy. Ha!
You’re the one with boundary issues. You’re the one reading into the long stares and lingering hugs…. Okay, well, maybe he has boundary issues, too. But, irregardless! If he’s not texting you, calling you, making plans to see you… then he’s just not that into you. Ugh.
He’s a mirror, right? They’re always a mirror. You know this. Everyone in your life is a mirror for you to learn how to understand yourself better. He’s reflecting something back at you: your deep-seeded belief that you will be abandoned by the one you love; how your need for validation keeps you stuck.
This new man that you’re in love with, how does he treat you?
Remember: you cannot trust your feelings. They are constructed, socialized. You cannot trust your thoughts. Who knows what old and tired pathways they’re coursing through. You cannot trust the energy between you two. You are a light-mind being made out of infinite, cycling energy. An energetic bond with another human means nothing special. Truly. We are all energy and the more you conceptualize this, the more you will feel that energy with and from other people. I don’t care if you go into time vortexes or transcend the spacetime matrix together. You MUST only pay attention to his actions. Does he reach out unprovoked? Text back in a timely fashion? Does he do things for you? Take you on dates, tell you how he feels about you?
Be honest: does any part of your attraction to him have to do with healing him? You know how powerfully you imprinted on Belle, under the false illusion that she was the most autonomous of the Princesses. Remember: you do not possess the magic it takes to turn a beast into a prince. No one does.
Men don’t fall in love the women who heal them. I don’t care what the fairytales told you. When you try to heal someone you are interested in romantically, what you are doing is pushing external love onto an unwilling party that needs to find their own love internally.
Showing a man how to love himself properly was the job of his mother. This is the last thing you want to become. Just walk away. Burn those feelings and thoughts and energetic meaning with fire, okay? No more falling in love with men who need to be healed.
Don’t beat yourself up. I am grateful to you for taking risks, for feeling things, for continuing to seek partnership despite your history. I’m grateful that after each heartbreak you do the challenging inner-work required to ascend to new layers of understanding. Just remember what you’ve learned. Remember that every experience is a lesson and you’re strong enough now to learn in new ways — ways with less pain. Don’t put yourself on the path of hurt again.
Your person is coming and he’s going to be better matched for you than all the loves before. Or… the world will evolve beyond partnership and romance and monogamy and stories and live in the next layer of “truth.” Either way, you are the love you are looking for.