Longing to Feel In Love

The Google search terms “how do you know if you’re in love” or “not in love with my partner” are some of the most common ways that people find their way to my work. Because our culture has sold us the bill of goods that romantic love is the answer to life and that when you fall in love with the “right” person you’ll have arrived at the golden elixir of happiness, when you don’t feel that feeling, it’s understandable that you would wonder what’s wrong.  The culture tells you that you should feel swept away, and when you’re not you assume that there’s a problem. How many healthy relationships and marriages have ended because one person says to the other, “I love you but I’m not in love with you.” Translation: You’re not making me feel giddy and alive, so you must be the wrong partner.

While the culture instills the belief that real love means longing and infatuation, giddiness and glitter, the culture is merely exploiting a basic human longing to feel wholly alive. In times past, when it was largely understood that marriage was a business contract above all else, people sought to meet this longing through their connection to creativity or spirituality. But when the idea of romance altered our expectations of longterm relationships, the culture seized on the opportunity to capitalize on the primal longing for aliveness. The problem isn’t the longing itself; the problem lies in cultural belief that the longing can be met through the “right” romantic partner.

What you’re longing for is the elixir that new loves brings. What you’re longing for is the feelings of aliveness that arrive on the wings of new love, and most often with infatuation. As I’ve said a hundred times on this blog but I’ll say it again: It’s not your partner’s job to make you feel alive; that’s your job and yours alone. It’s not your partner’s job to fill in your empty holes and light up your sky; it’s your job to fill in those empty places. It’s not your partner’s job to drip the elixir of life down your throat; it’s your responsibility to learn how to create your own elixir. As Robert Johnson writes in his autobiography, “Balancing Heaven and Earth”:

“Probably the next important evolution of Western humankind is to find a proper container for religious life so that we do not unrealistically expect another mortal human being to carry this high value. In short: don’t ask a human to be God for you.”

What Johnson is saying (and is the essence of his book We: The Psychology of Romantic Love) is that the aliveness we seek must be found in our own spiritual experience, whatever that means for you. For some people, that might mean a traditional religious devotional practice of following the prayers, rituals, readings, and customs of their lineage. For many others these days for whom religion has lost its luster, spirituality may come through creativity, connection to nature, working with dreams, meditation, or through their own innovative prayer practice. What matters is that we stop projecting our gold onto other humans – real or imagined – and instead reel in the projection and claim what is rightfully ours. The gold is our aliveness. The gold is our magic. The gold is our purpose. The gold is the voice that says YES and WOW and HALLELUJAH. The gold is our compass: how we know ourselves and trust ourselves. The gold is our passion. The gold is what makes every day worth living.

But how, exactly, do we take back our gold?

By falling in love not with a person or a house or a job or a hobby but with life itself.

When we’re connected to flow – whether through art, nature, prayer, gratitude, acts of kindness and service – we fall in love with life. And when we’re in love with life, we fill in the holes in our well of Self and edge out fear. On the other side of the fear of death is embracing life, and the fear of death is the portal through which we’re invited to learn how to embrace life, which means falling in love with life. In other words, when you fall in love with life, you edge out the fear of death. The two work in tandem to propel us into a deeper relationship with life itself. Then, instead of being buffeted by life’s waves, we begin to have a conversation with them, and eventually we learn to ride them.

And that’s when life gets fun ;).

If you’d to learn the information and practices that will allow you create your personal toolbox for taking back your gold and falling in love with life, please join me for the inaugural round of Grace Through Uncertainty: A 30-day course to become more comfortable with the fear of loss by falling in love with life. The course will begin on Saturday, September 29th, 2018.

31 comments to Longing to Feel In Love

  • Chantelle

    I am always excited at this time of day to sit and read your posts. This one has really made me sit and think today. I’m in the middle of moving house and find myself projecting on to my poor husband. Do I love him? I don’t feel the love? Whilst this is all going on, I’m in a job which is making me miserable… so I’m definitely feeling a little unbalanced. It’s given me a bit of a kick up the bum to fill my self well and just ride the waves of this second big transition 🙂

  • Mônica

    Hi Sheryl!
    I have a question: I’m single and my anxiety sometimes comes from that, thinking “what if I never find love?”, as if this was the one and only missing piece for a joyous life. I’m quite familiar with your work and am a spiritual person, so I know where this longing comes from. Still, this is a question that I ask myself frequently, maybe because I’m in my 20s, I don’t know. I’d like to make peace with the fact that I may never find a suitable romantic partner (which is not impossible, many people don’t, and by suitable I mean the available partner I can learn to love, not a prince), I don’t want to spend my youth longing and searching. If I find it, great, if I don’t, it won’t mean I’m incomplete. I don’t want to feel inferior for not having someone (apart from friends and family) “who loves me”. Any tips for having that mindset?


    • beck

      Hi Monica. You are a very wise girl! I am in my thirties and so wish I could back in time and tell myself in my twenties to just relax and embrace that time. Sheryl is so right in that a human being cannot truly fullfill us or bring us happiness. Only we can do that (through the help of God, I believe). I never thought I would find the right man for me and spent most of my twenties longing for someone to complete my fairytale. I wish I wouldve spent more time connecting/serving others and making a difference, as singleness is the best time do that! I would suggest filling your self up serving other people, getting involved in things that bring YOU joy, and just know that life can change in an instant.

      • Mônica

        Thanks for your kind comment, Beck! That’s one of my goals, to serve and feel connected and alive through divine and human love, not necessarily romantic. I try to be patience with myself, though, for wondering about this “natural” topic…

  • Just wanted to note there seems to be a pertinent typo in the first paragraph. “I love you but I’m NOT in love with you.” <3

    sending love.

  • UnforcedRhythmsOfGrace

    YES! Preach it!!!! I think that if we get nothing else out of your website, Sheryl, THIS is THE message that needs to be marinated in until we’re pruny and saturated. 🙂
    I have “I am responsible for my own aliveness” hanging on my wall. I may not be able to control everything in life, but that I can definitely do! It really makes *all* the difference.
    Thanks, Sheryl, for so clearly pointing out the way to “YES and WOW and HALLELUJAH” week after week. I know I wouldn’t be so gratefully married if it weren’t for you doing so. xo

  • Aizada

    Dear Sheryl, just wanted to thank you!

  • Angie

    This is really great! I just recently took back my gold that was being sucked out of me for various reasons… I’m feeling alive again!

  • Kath

    Thank you Sheryl, a timely reassurance for me. I am thinking about moving in with my boyfriend, and a work colleague said ‘so, are you madly in love with him’? And I said ‘no, but I love him and I love spending time with him.’ which she thought was great. But afterwards it has slowly niggled at me that does it matter that I don’t get butterflies or longing or obsessing about him? Thanks Sheryl.

  • Katherine

    Hi Sheryl – this is a brilliant post! I have been hoping for one that speaks to single people – and this one really does. I often feel that I spend too much time focused on playing music, sport, friends etc and not enough time looking for a partner. When I do have relationships – I have often found them lacking compared with my quite rich single life and feel terribly guilty and sad about that (doing all the googling for ‘how do you know if you are in love?’ etc). At the same time, I really, really want a relationship to work out. This post is helpful – if I can accept my own life as being as important as a future relationship – maybe I won’t put so much pressure on things the next time I meet someone. I can see everything more in balance. I think I have imagined that with the right partner my life will be transformed. This is hard though as I am now 40 and so feel incredible pressure to ‘fall in love’ and ‘be happy’ – maybe my life is fine as it is? Thank you!

    • YES, your life is absolutely fine as it is! Our culture devalues a rich single life, which is a great tragedy. What we’re seeking is fulfillment and meaning, and that comes in different forms for different people.

  • Melissa

    “By falling in love not with a person or a house or a job or a hobby but with life itself.”

    THIS. It has spoken to me so much as I’m finding joy in my family and close friends I never thought I could have before. They help me put life in perspective – on how short and eternal it is. They are teaching me to love fiercely in midst of uncertainty and, sometimes, hurt.

  • Erica

    Hi Sheryl,

    I recently got married a few months ago. I’ve had highs and lows in these past few months. On the day of my wedding I was calm and full of joy. When I look at photos, I don’t know where that woman went. I know I love my husband but my feelings feel stuck. Help!

  • Yvette

    Sheryl, as always, your delivery is clear & succinct.
    Amen to this, literally! What a beautiful post. Thank you for that.
    If it wasn’t for our couples-oriented society, I probably wouldn’t give my current single-hood much energy, other than “blooming where planted” for now..
    Life can be so interesting & our status (“for better or worse”..pun intended) can change on a dime! ‘makes it fun & mysterious..like when a man followed me into service yesterday & sat beside me!
    Still believing Love is allllllllll around, coupled up or not.

  • Anon

    Hi Sheryl,

    I don’t understand what it means to fall in love with life itself?? If it’s not about a person, a hobby, job or anything material… what do you mean? You say connecting to the flow, but doesn’t that entail a hobby in a way? Art and acts of service and nature? Wouldn’t those be hobbies?

    Also… what if Ifeel like I try to connect to things to find a flow but can’t due to being fused with the idea that it’s my partner and if I were single or with the right person, I could easily connect? That I’m with the wrong partner and that’s why I can’t find a flow and connect to anything?

    • It will be answered in the course, and I’m so glad you’ll be joining us ;).

      In the meantime, you’ll start to gather a small sense of what I mean through my Instagram posts. I’m new to Instagram and my intention is to bring soul and poetry there, which are ways that we fall in love with life. I see you just started following.

      • UnforcedRhythmsOfGrace

        You’re on Instagram?! Is it open to anyone?

      • Anon

        Thanks, Sheryl. Looking forward to learning more about it in the course. Hopefully I will be able to better understand how to fall in love with life itself…

        One more question… is it normal not to feel fulfilled/satisfied with giving love to your partner? I feel like because of my inner turmoil, it’s pretty much always been this way in my relationship. I’m worried I’m depriving both of us of a better love. If this is truly even love on my end. I know a part of me wishes it is…

  • Bianca Wilson

    I have been an avid reader of your work for nearly 6 years and it never ceases to amaze me the timing of your posts. I was heavily involved in working through my relationship anxiety in a previous relationship and it was FOUNDATIONAL in shedding my layers and allowing me to see the source of my pain and projections. It allowed me to move forward in the relationship and see my anxiety for what it was: fear. The relationship ended 3 years ago and I am now in a new relationship for the past 9 months and LO AND BEHOLD I see the patterns returning. I am with a man who is supportive, caring, funny, loving, hard working, loyal and loves me more than anything and here I am completely fixated AGAIN on “we are too different”….”he’s white and I am black and this will never work”…..”he doesn’t care about the same things I care about”…..”he doesn’t want to make a big difference in the world..” and the list goes on. If I looked at my journal from years ago about my last relationship and looked at my journal now, they would almost be identical. I see more than ever that it is me. This is my pain, my projections. This is yet another layer that must be healed and if I didn’t believe it before I believe it now, that it doesn’t matte what partner I am with because this all comes from me (gift and curse).

    • Sometimes the true awareness that the fear lies inside of us can only be owned through seeing the pattern of relationship anxiety appear over time, even with a new partner. It’s a painful awareness but an essential one, and I’m glad you’re seeing it so clearly now.

  • Alexandra

    Hi sheryl…. I’ve been the toxic one in my relationship. My boyfriend is so loving and amazing, and I am too but I have been th toxic one in terms of my anxiety and control. You said if there are red flags, then my anxiety might be a sign from god to get out, but we’re both working on our relationship and have the same goals in life, same vision, same core values, he is truly my best friend. we love and cherish our bond, is my anxiety/OCD a sign that I am too toxic and need to leave? I’m terrified now!

  • Sheryl,I hav reached a stage where I feel that I m unable to enjoy my time with my boyfriend.Since Iam going for a trip this weekend with my family ,I have a feeling that I would realise that my truth i to leave him even though I dont wantto and work through my skewed persectives and thoughts and most importantly..

    • I know that last day we had a fight and through tht we coming to see the other sides of each other which we are ready to embrace and accept. But somehow I feel that my mind i blocking me from doing so..so I question myslef whether I was ever in love and what not…

  • Katie

    Thank you Sheryl. I’m realizing I am not having in love feelings for my boyfriend as consistently as I wish and it has started to create doubt in me. I will take this article to prayer and look at ways I can seek the gold outside of my relationship.

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