Love Cannot Be Measured

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERALove cannot be measured. It cannot be placed in test tubes in a science laboratory or placed on the great scale of life to determine whether or not there’s enough. The anxious/sensitive mind longs for a definite answer to the questions that swirl through its brain – Do I love you enough? What is enough? Do I love you as much as you love me? – praying that a divine hand will reach down from the heavens and seal the relationship with a stamp of approval. But love is not an exam you take in school where you can receive a letter grade. It’s not a handful of precious jewels you can place on a scale to determine its worth. It can’t be quantified, graded, or weighed. Love cannot be measured.

You long to measure love because the hypervigilant part of you wants to make sure that you have what it takes to create a healthy, passionate long-term relationship. This part of you – your sentry or gatekeeper – believes that if you could answer this one question, you would have your guarantee and you could move forward knowing that you had done your due diligence. If you’re like most people, you’ve scoured the relationship ad nauseum under a high-powered microscope making sure that you’re a good enough match. But the gatekeeper isn’t satisfied with good enough; this part of you seeks perfection to allay its fears of making mistake. There is no perfection when it comes to love – or life. There is only trusting that what you have – if it’s solid and loving – is enough.

What is enough? What’s fascinating to me about relationship anxiety is that it often begins with, “Does he/she love me enough?” and then flips to “Do I love him/her enough?” The common word? Enough. We’re looking for evidence of “enoughness”, which really pares down to a question of your own worthiness: The belief of I’m not enough becomes projected onto your partner in the from of “Do I love him/her enough?” until you’ve slipped down the rabbit hole of trying to answer an unanswerable question.

The real question, the one that stops the perseverating on the unanswerable questions in its tracks, is this: Is my partner someone with whom I can learn about love? If he trustworthy, reliable, and committed to our partnership? Does she support me and truly desire what is in my highest good? If the answer is yes (and if you’re here I would bet a lot of money that it is), then it’s time to replace, “Do I love him/her enough?” with “How can I grow our love?”

Love cannot be measured, but it can be grown. We don’t grow it through trusting the fates and finding “the One”. We don’t grow it by reading the ten tips in Cosmo and then magically having more and more passionate sex. We don’t grow it by good luck. We grow it by a lot of hard work. Contrary to every message we receive in this culture about love, the way to grow love is through action. Here are numbers 8 and 9 from Winifred M. Reilly’s wonderful article in the Huffington Post called “36 Things I Know After 36 Years of Marriage“:

9. Marriage is a “learn on the job” proposition. None of us comes into it with all the skills we need for success. When the going gets rough it’s most often a sign that we need some new skills — not a sign that we need a new spouse.

10. Struggle in marriage is not only inevitable, it’s necessary. None of us can grow a strong and healthy relationship without having to face and resolve difficult issues.

Just like we grow awareness in our minds by practicing mindfulness and we grow stronger bodies by exercising, we grow love by practicing love, which means learning the skills and actions of the heart. We grow love by focusing on what’s working in the relationship, by filling up our own inner well of self, by actively connecting to gratitude, by initiating loving reunions, to name a few of the Love Laws and Loving Actions that help you open your heart and grow your love and attraction for your partner. Love is a skill that can be taught. Some people learn these skills by osmosis if they grew up in homes where they witnessed a loving and healthy marriage, but for the rest of us (the vast majority), we have to learn the skills of love from the ground up.

Like many statements of a life lived from the core of Self, if might sound paradoxical to say that love cannot be measured but it can be grown. How can we grow something that cannot be measured? And how do we measure its growth? We don’t measure growth. We feel growth. We see the effects of growth. We notice the tender petals of our hearts opening more and more often, and we welcome in the quiet shimmer of joy. When love grows, fear shrinks, and when fear shrinks we reunite with the core longing of our hearts to do what seems so simple and yet eludes us much of the time: to give and receive love with our loving, open partner.

Are you ready to learn the Love Laws and Loving Actions that will help you shrink your fear and grow your love? If so, please join me for my fifth round of Open Your Heart: A 30 day program to feel more love and attraction for your partner, which will begin on January 31st, 2015. Registration is now open.

61 comments to Love Cannot Be Measured

  • Sarah

    Love this! One of my New Years resolutions this year is to give up the word enough Because I seem to find myself using it as a standard of measurement for all things not just love when I am seeing things through my fear eyes. When in fact if my guy didn’t meet up with my standards of enough I wouldn’t have been dating him for almost 2.5 years! Funny how quickly that word can try and trip you up!

  • M

    Love this article, it is so true! Still coming to grips with this truth! I “love” how you compared love to an exam, which it is not. There are times during this process that I say to myself, I wish love had a textbook that I could read and master. I would be good at that, I bet I could get an A on the exam! I guess the textbook will be my life as I learn through with it, with no exam at the end. I try to document as much as I can each day/week/month about what love is so hopefully I have wisdom for my children/grandchildren when I am older 🙂 Thanks for this wisdom!

  • Kevin

    Sheryl, I’ve been facing great amounts of anxiety lately and difficulty loving my partner, and it either stems from me not actually loving her, or it could be my closed off heart and fear place telling me that I don’t love her, recently, I’ve been facing stagnation in my interests, and it’s been really painful these past few weeks to deal with the thoughts in my head, and I honestly need your help, I just want to know whether I even love her, whether there even is a possibility of this relationship changing for the better, is it just because of my current circumstances leading me to shut down in this relationship?

    • You’re describing a classic fear response, Kevin. Please read through my entire site and you’ll derive much understanding. If you’re needing extra support, I strongly encourage you to consider one of my courses.

      • Kevin

        Thank you, Sheryl, I have been a regular visitor to this sight, and I have left multiple comments detailing this in the past. Most of my problems also come about when I start reading various sites, (such as your articles regarding connection) and I always question myself whether we have enough connection, whether I can build a future with her (as many sites claim that if I love my partner, I should be able to picture a future, which I often cannot) These thoughts keep running through my mind and I constantly have people telling me I’m over thinking things, I would really wish to enroll in this course, but I’m unable to afford it as of this moment, is there anyway I can take part in a trial? You and your articles have been a great source of relief and assurance, but I wish to take part on the hero’s journey, thanks to you sheryl

  • Lea

    Dear Sheryl,

    Your articles are always amazing and beautiful, the give me such comfort every time I read them. I’m facing a big problem. My fiance proposed to me but since he did, I became so anxious and depressed which led me to question my feelings and devotion to him. I know I love him, however I sometimes feel that there is someone better out there for me, I constantly think of his flaws. I became so angry and I find myself accusing him for my feelings all the time. I even said to him that he shouldn’t have proposed so early ( although we’re a year and a half together and we’ve been living together for a half ) He is so caring and supportive and I feel guilty and terrible for feeling this. I’m ashamed of the fact that I sometimes think about leaving him. But deep in my heart, I know I don’t want to leave him. I’m so confused I don’t know what to do. All I know is that I need to decide if I wanna marry him or not because I don’t want to hurt his feelings anymore. 🙁

  • wanttobecalm

    This came at the exact right timing. I was searching the forum far and wide for the phrase ‘ what is love ‘ ‘how do you know if it’s love ‘ ‘how can you tel if it’s love ‘ I’m looking for answers that aren’t ever there. It’s almost like hoping someone would tell me, stop, what you have is enough, we need to learn how to grow it. Thank you Sheryl, I really look forward to working with you from Jan 31st!

  • Stephanie

    My partner abruptly ended our 2+ year relationship a week ago, and has not responded to several attempts. I have made to reach out and let him know that love him and am trying to understand what prompted him leave without even trying. This has been an incredibly difficult time, but I have wonderfully supportive friends and family who are seeing me through this, and a wellspring of inner strength that has been invaluable.

    But something has shifted with me as a result of his abrupt departure. I’m actually not falling apart. Life continues to go on, and I am getting stronger with each passing day. Yes, there have been many tears, and a wide range of emotions over the past week. I have been doing my work for years now, so I recognize that his leaving is not about me. The problem is: I’m truly not sure what I would say IF he came back asking to resume our relationship. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that I could trust him again, or even know where to begin fitting the pieces back together after what he has done.

    Ultimately, I know that he may not seek to come back, and I am prepared for that. But what if he does? How do you give someone a second chance, while also not glossing over the fact that he must do the work if we are to build a lasting and HEALTHY relationship? If he can’t/won’t do that, I must let him go. Simple as that. Thanks for any thoughts or perspectives you may have…

  • NicoleIrene

    Sheryl, God is really using you as a vessel for His good work, showing us what’s true in a society full of lies and pretence. Please don’t ever stop letting your light shine and in turn illuminating the path that leads to happy, calm, peaceful loving unions. God bless you.

  • Stella

    Dear Sheryl,
    How can i know which ecourse/program fits me best? I think i have huge fear walls around my heart and am struggling with projection and some form of anxiety (it was worse when it first started months ago). Would you reccommend open your heart or conscious wedding? Im only 21 and not even thinking about marriage yet. What do you think?
    Kindly, Stella

  • Nat

    I’ve been reading your blogs for over a year now, and I think this may be my favorite. I’m working on growing the love I know is there for my boyfriend, even when I don’t “feel” anything at all. Thank you for writing this and helping so many like me, who read often but may not comment. I am hoping to enroll in the Open Your Heart course, too. Thanks again! 🙂

  • DA

    What if you can’t remember thinking if they love you enough? I just read that in your article and it spiked my anxiety saying that because I didn’t think that it must be that I really don’t love her because from we knew each other I always questioned whether or not I liked her or loved her etc.

  • lonely

    Dear Sheryl, this is my first time writing here but I would like you to know that this website has been a huge relief to me, thank you very much, u r a blessing 🙂 After my boyfriend and I had a huge fight a few months ago, I have spiraled into deep anxiety. At first, it was so bad that I could not even enjoy our vacation together completely as I kept getting panic attacks and crying randomly. I literally feel weird whenever I say the words “I love you” and he has been extremely patient with me through it all. I was deeply infatuated with him at the beginning of the relationship therefore this is a huge change for me. I also realize that I have always been anxious about relationships throughout my life, over-analyzing every single detail, not being able to relax. I have just started mindfulness and inner bonding recently, but I can’t help but let random articles about “true love and fate” and “how it didn’t feel right” spike my anxiety. Is this a case of relationship anxiety? I know deep down I want to be with this guy, even with all his flaws. How do I get my peace of mind back? xx

    • You’re describing classic relationship anxiety. Read through my entire site, then consider the e-course.

      • lonely

        thank you for replying, you are a blessing 🙂 well i for one am very young and have not dated much so i constantly question what is “normal” and how it feels like to be in a relationship. recently, i also constantly pick out his flaws (he is very antisocial) and the fact that we didn’t really start off healthily, as his heart was closed due to previous relationships. but as time gone by, he began opening his heart more.. and he really is trying to live up to my expectations. he is a very good man, we are compatible, he makes me laugh alot. we have ups and downs but always sort them out. however, i have always been anxious from the start. even in previous relationships (that were not that serious), i always found a way to push them away even though I liked them alot. at the back of my mind, i always think these men won’t go so when they do, i am shocked. however, with this guy I have always been sure, n i made sure not to push him away. but lately .. these thoughts are so unbearable that the only escape route seems like the one to leave him. as i am young.. maybe i could start again. but if i didnt love him, i would have left a long time ago. this is very confusing :S thank u! to add, i am usually happier when im single. maybe i do not know how to love and be loved and am better off without it?

        • Stella

          Hi Lonely,
          Sorry to hear about your situation, I know what it feels like :(. I’m very young as well and my story is similar to yours, I cannot get close to my partner without feeling weird en judgy and unloving. Please join the open your heart course, Im in it as well, that way you know there is someone young and unexperienced in there with you :).

  • Tracy

    One of the most important things I have learned from your blogs is that just because I think a thought, doesn’t mean it’s true. I try to apply that to negative thoughts when I think, “Maybe he’ll leave me” or “Maybe it won’t work out” or “Maybe something bad will happen in the this relationship.” But could it be equally true that if I have a positive thought it might not be true? I try to comfort myself when I think of all the loving actions in my relationship — but just because I think it, it might not be true. Does that make sense? Or am I thinking about this all wrong, Sheryl?

  • Amy

    I love this post. I’ve been thinking about something similar for a while now. Which is, loving someone the ‘right’ way. It’s equally impossible to do naturally, yet I feel it haunts many of us.

    I’ve beat myself up for years knowing I didn’t love my husband the ‘right’ way for the first 4.5 years of our relationship. When it all came tumbling down, I saw that. But our wounded minds think that just because maybe we didn’t love in the healthiest of ways prior, means we didn’t love at all. Which I believe is false. I think that’s why those of us who follow your work struggle, and is what we are trying to get out from under. It’s not that black and white.

    What you’ve taught me is I need to be compassionate and forgiving to the fact that I didn’t know how to show love or be loving to someone else in healthy ways all of the time. Because I had not a single healthy example to follow. You also taught me that while I may not be the most proud of how I loved in unloving and unhealthy ways some of the time, it doesn’t define me or sum up all of my love for him. Because I simultaneously ALSO did express love and feel love in true honest, genuine ways. I (and you) was born to love. It may haven been burred, but it was there all along… I just needed to find it.

    This journey is about learning to love in healthy ways, and forgiving ourselves for not knowing how prior. All we can do it try, put forth effort, and commit. It’s hard work, but I can say that in the last 5 years I’ve been working through my anxiety, I’ve learned to love more than I ever thought imaginable. I feel myself becoming a better person. More compassionate, understanding, tolerant, gentle, accepting, willing, honest, proud… all things I wasn’t really prior, and all things I feel define what being loving being.

    To me that’s ‘enough’ and it will only continue to get better 🙂


    • talespinner77

      “What you’ve taught me is I need to be compassionate and forgiving to the fact that I didn’t know how to show love or be loving to someone else in healthy ways all of the time. Because I had not a single healthy example to follow.”

      Hi Amy, I just wanted to comment on this particular sentence because it rings SO true for me. I have struggled for a very long time, but I am finding myself now to just allow whatever to come and pass. When we don’t have that healthy example it makes so much difference in how we perceive what is happening or what we think SHOULD be “feeling.” Thanks for so precisely wording that <3

    • So beautiful, Amy. Thank you. To me, this is the healing work in a nutshell: “It’s hard work, but I can say that in the last 5 years I’ve been working through my anxiety, I’ve learned to love more than I ever thought imaginable. I feel myself becoming a better person. More compassionate, understanding, tolerant, gentle, accepting, willing, honest, proud… all things I wasn’t really prior, and all things I feel define what being loving being”

  • Ashley

    Hi Sheryl,

    I have a question regarding reliability. I can rely on my fiance for many things. I can rely on him to always be there for me when I need him, to work, to be good to out pets, etc. I cannot rely on him to clean up after himself or to do some of his chores. I’ve talked to him many times and he says he doesn’t do it maliciously and that he literally forgets. I believe him. I know this is something that can be worked on and I’m pretty sure it’s not a red flag. Sometimes it’s hard to not resent him for it though and I don’t like that. I guess what I’m asking is: should I be worried about this?

  • ColoradoGirl

    To All- reading through the comments from this article bring me right back to the moments where I was in the grip of anxiety and fear. I was not yet engaged and had spent the last 4.5 years I had been with my boyfriend wondering if he was ‘the one.’ Feeling certain that I was meant to eventually leave him, but in my heart knowing how amazing he was and not actually wanting to leave. I can relate on every level to the comments that were written here. If that’s where you are right now, know that Sheryl’s work has the ability to LITERALLY transform your life. That’s a big statement, but I make it because I’ve experienced the shift. I am now happily married to that wonderful man that I thought I needed to leave and it is in no small part to Sheryl’s conscious wedding and open your heart program. Believe me, money spent to learn how to move from living out of fear to living out of love, is money well spent! Incredible incredible programs.. Thanks again Sheryl! I’m living a peaceful, joyful, and profoundly different life than I would have been had I not found you a couple years back!!! Oh, one other thing, Sheryl may mention that these programs are meant to grow your attraction for your partner, but I want to add that it did SO much more for me than that. These programs will, again, begin to teach you how to move from fear to love and that shift applies to all area of your life. It had a profound impact on not just my relationship with my then fiancé, but on my life as a whole.

    • talespinner77

      Thanks ColoradoGirl! I also am going on almost 4 years of working through the fear walls and I took have taken 2 of Sheryl’s courses and you are spot on! They are about every aspect of your life and they touch cornerstones that you don’t even know exist in some cases. My doubts aren’t as severe as they once were because I know this is where I am supposed to be, but it is SO nice to hear from someone else who has made the transition to marriage and is happy!

      Thanks again for your wonderful post!

    • Thank you, ColoradoGirl. Your commitment to your healing is truly inspiring, and your ability to implement these principles is a testament to your readiness and commitment to growing your heart. Timing plays a part in all of this, and it’s clear that you found my work at the right time. Thank you for sharing your experience here.

  • Lea

    Thanks Sheryl for your answer, I will consider the course. However, what really scares me is that I know what bothers me about my fiance and he is constantly telling me either to overcome those obstacles in my head and marry him, or if I can’t, then to just say so and leave him. I don’t know how to make this decision, I don’t trust myself enough, I know that I love him and I don’t want to leave him but what if I stay and marry him and then wake up every day with the thought that I’ve made a mistake ? It is so confusing, I can’t stand this anymore. Help !!!

    • You make the decision by gathering more accurate information, connecting with like-minded others, and practicing the tools that will help you grow your self-trust. That’s what the e-course offers.

  • Lydia

    I want to second Coloradogirl and talespinner and everyone talking about the scope of the changes that can take place with the help of Sheryl’s work (and a large share of our own of course). I feel nostalgic every time there is another round of Open Your Heart because that is where/when I really started learning to love my now husband. Where I received, for the first time in my life, enough reinforcement for a healthy love model to really shake the illusions that were keeping me hostage and miserable at their very core, and enough tools and support to apply this new model. I highly recommend this course!

  • Melissa

    I really NEED HELP! I have been in a 3 year relationship.. I suffer from depression and GAD.. Sometimes I go through doubts in our relationship, but lately we had a huge argument and the day after that I started feeling sad. Depression had hit me again and it centred around my boyfriend. Thinking and thinking and thinking that I do not love him anymore.. and he is AMAZING.. he has been so supportive but since the argument (which was a really silly argument to begin with) I can’t share the same feelings towards him. I have been feeliong like this since December 29th. I wake up thinking about and having anxious thoughts about him .. until I go back to sleep. I am really starting to think that this is not my anxiety but its me telling myself that this relationship is over.. and that I do not love him anymore. My best friend just broke up with her bf of 2 years and is not in another exciting relationship. To top it all off, I worry that we do not have sex enough, we have sex once or twice a week, is this normal??!! I feel like there should be more sex in the relationship, we’ve only been together for just three years!

    PLEASE HELP ME, I AM REALLY DESPERATE. 🙁 I cannot function at work and I am always coming on here to reassure myself. Right now he is abroad until Friday and I am afraid that if I do not miss him, then my feelings for him are over but I do not want this to be over 🙁

  • Melissa


    Since feeling like this, I sometimes try and kiss him to feel something, or hug him to feel something… I get excited to go cuddle with him at night and watch a movie, but then when that happens, it gets boring and nothing out of the ordinary. Then in the morning I wake up anxious all over again, Obsessing over not loving him anymore. What can I do to remove these obsessions from my mind? And how can I be sure that this is just anxiety and not really the real feelings? Since the 29th, I see that it has been going on for way too long already, I am afraid that this is a bad sign! and the more days that pass, the more im going to obsess and I will never be the same!

  • lonely

    sheryl, is it possible to know you love someone but not want to be with them?

  • anxiouslyengaged

    I’ve completed the conscious weddings e-course and I have made SUCH improvements… but I feel sort of stuck. I am stuck on what love is, am I being loving, am I loving the “right” way, am I accepting the love.. is this normal? Is the open your heart program a good next step? I think I am going to sign up!

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl,
    You may remember a while ago, I felt so anxious, I had crippling fear I couldn’t function and I was working 2 jobs as a teacher. Everyday I questioned to myself.. Why do I feel so bad?so lost scared And I had the numbness.. I couldn’t breathe. I’m suppose to be happy I met the most sweetest guy. I can’t leave him.. He is too special. Thank God, for you Sheryl.. You saved my relationship.XO. I can happily say that all the anxiety I went through was worth it. I don’t think I would go through that again. I made it through to the finish line and I learnt so much along the way. I insisted and persevered like a fear warrior. All of you can do it too! Just don’t give up. Your not alone.

  • Angela

    How I moved forward was to just accept the painful feelings.. Because anxiety is exhausting, it’s physical. Just do the ecourse and do the work and you will definitely progress, just believe and trust Sheryl is what’s important, she knows the truth. And delivers her knowledge beautifully with such grace.

  • Rita

    Hi Sheryl,
    First off, thank you for this post and including the link to the article about Dr. Aron’s study. My husband and I took time yesterday to ask each other the 36 questions and look into each other’s eyes for the four minutes. Thank you for that. I have a question that nags at me. Even before I dated my now husband I did not feel physically attracted to him, the opposite really. I agonized over it for a long time. I believed that if I made a commitment it would go away since he is a good man. Well, 8 yrs later and it’s still a source of pain for us both. When I first met him I couldn’t have been in a projection because I wasn’t in a relationship with him yet. So, if I never was physically attracted is there hope for us that it will arrive someday or is it just that he never was my “type?” I took the “open your heart course” which helped on so many levels. What do you advise next? I’m not able to see what the next step might be in finding a healing for this. Thank you for all your help.

  • Steven

    Funny how you always write about what I am experiencing. Thank god for you Sheryl. I (still) am in a relationship, over 2,5 yrs deep. At first it was a bliss and I only worried she would leave. But then I got scared I dont love her enough and it turned our lives to hell. I could see she loved me so much and felt like I was not giving her the same thing. I even told her that last year and broke her heart. She stayed and hoped it would get better. And it got. For a while I thought it was gone. The reason Im writing this is she wants to leave me now. She doesnt trust me. And doesnt know if she loves me anymore. I always thought her love is unshakeable. Now I feel like nothing makes sense. Only this relationship. I tried those 36 questions mentioned above, but she was tired and didnt want to continue after 21… If you could just tell me your opinion I would be grateful. Best regards

  • Nadia

    I come to this blog often to learn about fear and anxiety and hopefully about myself. I really love the insights I’ve garnered from this page. And yet, I still struggle with answers for myself. For almost 2 years now, I’ve been dating a truly wonderful man, who I respect more than anyone else in this world. From the beginning, he always was more into the relationship, and it freaked me out. I immediately worried I could never return the feelings; I felt overwhelmed all the time, and I pulled back. Now, before our 2nd anniversary, I think it’s over because while I have a deep love for him, I never felt that spark that I’ve felt in past relationships. I fixate on the fact that he doesn’t make me laugh (he is sometimes successful, and tries so hard otherwise), and our physical intimacy is hit or miss.

    I can’t figure out if that initial fear and guilt are at the root of all this, or if this relationship was just never right for me. I know anxiety can be powerful and convincing, but I can’t tell if my early guilt and anxiety have kept me from experiencing something wonderful, if the anxieties piled up from never properly being addressed. It’s a painful process. I keep telling myself it’s over, that it has to be, and yet every part of me aches when I think of him not being in my life. Sometimes wonderful people are the right fit for you, but how do you decipher that? Part of me wants to be able to give up more easily because the stress and anxiety are physically and mentally debilitating.

  • Rita

    Thank you for your reply. The answer to your question if I have had any moments of attraction to my husband is yes. There have been times. To be honest, there are more of those moments happening since taking the “open your heart course.” So, what you’ve taught me is working and I can’t explain what a relief finding your work has been for me in this struggle. I grew up in an environment where my older sister was “the beautiful one.” I didn’t grow my hair long or wear make-up until she moved far away. She and I were never close emotionally. I felt dominated by her and that no one would “see” me as long as she was around. I was compared by outsiders in a way that often left my self-esteem bruised. Now, I’m older and realize that if I care for my appearance I can be every bit as beautiful. But it’s still hard for me to look at pictures of myself from adolescence and my early 20s. I still feel worthless when I’m around my sister and I can’t relax or have fun around her. I’m pretty sure this relates to my attraction problems with my husband. Although I don’t think I would’ve made the connection before working with you. And at times it feels unrelated even though I’m sure you’d say that’s my ego/WS trying to fool me.

  • Rita

    Thank you Sheryl. Thank you. Am correct in thinking maybe the next step is taking the relationship ecourse where I can work through some more of this?

  • Pamela

    Perfect. Just perfect. Thank you Sheryl.

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