This Is The True Definition Of Being In Love

by | Jul 26, 2020 | Open Your Heart | 43 comments

“Are you in love?” is one of the questions that triggers the maelstrom of relationship anxiety that leads people to my virtual doorstep. Alongside, “Are you with “the One”?, “Are you settling?” and “Do you have enough chemistry?”, these questions speak to a dysfunctional and damaging cultural message about relationships that says you should “just know” and “if you’re really in love, you wouldn’t be having doubt.”

I’ve outlined what being in love is not in many of my blog posts, including the mainstream message which defines being in love as, “A feeling of euphoria where you “know” that you’re with “the One.” I have spent less time discussing what it is to be in healthfully in love. Let’s break it down.

When you’re healthfully in love:

 

Sometimes you feel attracted to your partner and sometimes you don’t.

Sometimes you feel like having sex and sometimes you don’t. You learn that having sex isn’t dependent on intrinsic arousal but that when you decide to meet each other in bed to connect intimately, it fills your marriage pool with warm, clear water.

You don’t always like your partner’s behavior, but you like the core essence of who they are (especially when anxiety isn’t in the driver’s seat causing you to see through fear-eyes).

You can feel irritated one minute and at ease the next. You can like your partner one minute and hate them the next. You can feel “certain” one minute and full of doubt the next. This is all part of being in love.

When you’re in love, you learn over time that the more inner work you do to soften your fear-walls, the longer stretches of time you have when you gaze lovingly at your partner, full of gratitude for your relationship and the life you’ve created together.

The more you learn to let go and trust, the more you fall in love. Falling requires trusting, and trusting requires letting go of control. Falling in love happens over decades as trust deepens.

 

Falling in love means falling into trust.

 

Being in love is not the same as feeling in love. As feelings fluctuate as often as the weather in Colorado, to use feelings as a baseline for whether or not you’re “in love” is a dangerous and unreliable metric. Instead we must recognize that to be in love is to be in the active stream of learning how to love. Sometimes it’s a feeling, but mostly it’s an intention, an action, and a choice. We don’t “fall in love” like falling into a pool. We choose love.

To be in love is to choose love.

 

To be in love is to be all in, which allows room for doubt.

To be in love is to be in the same room as love, which acknowledges that fear and all of fear’s expressions – doubt, ambivalence, confusion, irritation, cringing, intrusive thoughts, projections – live in this room.

To be in love is to hold hands with your safe, available partner and say, “I’m in. I’m in this thing called love with you. I might not always feel like I’m in, but when fear isn’t in the driver’s seat, I’m all in.”

It’s important to state and re-state that falling in love doesn’t always start with a feeling. Some relationships do begin with the euphoric infatuation stage that the culture uses as a yardstick to measure the “rightness” of your relationship, but many other healthy and viable relationships do not start with an infatuation stage. Either way is fine, for even if the “in love” feelings are present initially, eventually they will fade away and it’s at that point that you’re given the opportunity and spiritual task to learn about what it really means to be in love.

What’s interesting about this true definition is that, unlike the cultural definition which brainwashes us to believe that being in love either happens or not in one mysterious moment of grace and luck, with real love we see that we learn how to fall in love over time.

In fact, there are Love Laws and Loving Actions that, when practiced, allow us to soften the fear walls that keep a loving, available partner at arm’s length. When you follows these laws and take these actions, you step more fully into the stream of love and, amazingly, you feel the feelings of love.

There is no place in my life where I have learned more about what it is to be human, about the ways that my fear-and-control tactics show up, and what it means to truly love than in my marriage. I learn so much in my friendships and through my work; I learn through my own traumas and through parenting my children.

But it’s been through my marriage to my devoted, beautiful husband that the mirror that reflects the depth of my fear-and-control has been most clearly reflected, and it’s been through following the Love Laws and Loving Actions that I’ve softened and surrendered over decades and have fallen more deeply in love with my husband with each passing year.

These Love Laws and Loving Actions are what I teach in Open Your Heart: A 30-Day Course to Feel More Love and Attraction for Your Partner. Through sixteen rounds of this course, I’ve led thousands of people through this roadmap that teaches you to shrink fear and grow love, and I’m excited to share this with you. I lead this course course live twice a year, and the next round will begin on Saturday, August 8th, 2020. I look forward to meeting you there.

43 Comments

  1. This is absolutely amazing. It’s been almost exactly a year since I found your page and exactly a year since I had intrusive thoughts and anxiety take over for the first time in my life. About to close on a home and get married to the love of my life and my intrusive thoughts were telling me I didn’t love my husband.
    Fast forward through a year of A LOT of self work and I’m happy. I was so full of fear and doubt that it shook me to my core. I wasn’t eating, wasn’t performing at work.
    Find your work and I was amazed. Reading everything I could to learn and understand that I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t crazy.
    This explains everything that i ever needed to hear.
    I still struggle some days, but that’s what your post today says, you’ll have harder days and you’ll have great days.
    Now when I hear someone on social media say something about finding “the one” or “if you are feeling this or that way you shouldn’t be with them” and I cringe. Wanting to be like “oh honey no, let me explain.”
    I can’t thank you enough for your work. I read this and looked over at my husband and tears filled my eyes, and my heart filled with love. Earlier he was getting on my nerves! Haha
    I HATE intrusive thoughts, but I’m grateful. I’ve learned more about myself and understand more to be a better wife in our marriage.
    Thank you.

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    • I’m so glad you found your way here, and many blessings as you bravely and open-heartedly move forward on the two big transitions of buying a house and getting married.

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      • I had a wonderful experience a few days ago. We layed in bed and i felt so connected to my inner self and so deeply connected to my husband and I was so greatful for him. I also struggle with relationship anxiety and ongoing depressive states. But this experience was very loving. Is this the state that u talk about sheryl when the heart is open and you are connected to yourself? Of course I have days where my mind just doubts everything again and i am scared but i remind myself of the day where i felt deeply connected to myself and him and it gives me hope again.

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        • Yes, that’s what I’m talking about ;).

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    • Love this response!!! So on point and so true, and thank you, Sheryl, always for your work!!

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    • This is true, EXCEPT when you are in “love” with a narcissist or abuser. Then all of this falls by the wayside. I was in a 29 year verbally abusive marriage with a narcissist. No matter how hard I tried, nothing worked to bring us together. I am now in a loving relationship … a healthy relationship … and it is so much easier in every respect! Yes, it is not perfect. Yes, we have our conflicts. But our conflicts do not dissolve into name calling, accusations, etc. PLEASE put in a caveat about abusive relationships.

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      • Yes, absolutely true. All of my work is predicated on the assumption that you’re in a healthy, loving relationship.

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    • What an excellent piece of writing. Thank you. I sincerely appreciate your ability to lift the fog that our culture clouds us over with.

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    • It’s as if you put my thoughts into words. Been going through this myself over the last couple months and this content has been so helpful. Came across it less than a week ago and it’s been everything I needed to hear and read.

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  2. An amazing post! As always the timing is perfect! Thank you so much! I guess the only thing that triggers me now, since I have been able to see my partner’s core and how wonderful he is (which has helped me choose him everyday:), is that I will feel TOO irritated or bored for TOO long for it to be related to my relationship anxiety anymore and then it will become a sign that I’ve made a bad choice in a partner. I feel like this is probably a useless mind trap but it’s been bugging me for a while….Once again, thank you so much for your wise words!!!!

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    • Em – I was exactly in your shoes once before, but I learned, through Sheryl’s guidance (The Break Free from Relationship Anxiety course + her blog posts are worth it), that when we feel that way about our partners, that we are relying on them to make us feel whole/complete, or in your case, not bored or not irritate you. Our partners are mirrors of ourselves – meaning that we project our insecurities and how we feel onto them making it seem like it is their fault when it is really our own. At the end of the day, our feelings, and how we perceive things is completely on us. It is our responsibility to keep ourselves occupied, our responsibility to make ourselves feel sexy, our responsibility to make ourselves happy. Yes, our partners can make us happy, but we should not be relying on them to make us feel better about ourselves – that’s our own self-worth, but they can be by our sides supporting us through our journey every step of the way. Here’s an article that Sheryl recently wrote about intrusive thoughts. I hope this helps you: https://conscious-transitions.com/there-is-a-river-of-light-inside-your-intrusive-thoughts/

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      • What a wise, beautiful comment. Thank you for generously sharing your wisdom here :). x

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  3. I just want to shed some positive light and hope for those who may be deep in their relationship anxiety and struggling with intrusive thoughts…. I struggled with my RA for over a year and have now finally felt more at ease in my relationship with my boyfriend and myself. I was totally feeding the “fear fire“ and until I accepted that it was anxiety I found it eased up. Instead of everyday it became every other week, once a month, and now barely anything (maybe a few minutes, but that’s when I ask myself other questions and not project the anxiety on to my boyfriend).

    Following Sheryl’s quote that “love is a choice” helped me push through my anxiety. At times I wasn’t sure whether I needed to end things but the fact I was fighting so hard and not completely understanding my anxiety because there was no red flags, I pushed through. Everyone has their own journey but I feel the moment that the “I don’t know if he’s the one” thought came to my head, it’s in a way the opposite because I’ve now learned what real love is. We never experienced the infatuation stage but I can truly say our “love is like that warm oatmeal” Sheryl has described in her posts. We didn’t fall in love but rather grew our love! 😊❤️

    Thank you Sheryl

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    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Nicole. I know it can be a lifeline for those who are in the trenches of their anxiety to hear from those who have made it through to the other side. Would you mind sharing which courses you’ve taken that have been helpful along your journey?

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      • Yes, it’s certainly helpful since I remember reading others responses wondering if I’d be able to get through it too. I took the Break Free from Relationship Anxiety and Open Your Heart courses, along with personal counselling.

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  4. What a pleasure (and a relief) to read this definition of love spelled out!

    I know many people who have taken issue with the idea that love takes work, each time associating it with the damaging, extreme message of the oppressive marriage model that was commonplace in our mother’s and grandmother’s time (i.e. “Yes, he hits/belittles/cheats on me, but that’s his right and I just have to suck it up because this is what it means to be a wife”). I find that message abhorrent, make no mistake, but as you’ve said so many times, the other extreme is also damaging (i.e. “Whoops! My feelings are gone therefore my marriage is dead, probably because he/I/we aren’t perfect, which is entirely my/his/fate’s fault. Nothing to be done.”). The idea of “work” within marriage carries so much baggage with it for most of us. However, there is a vital difference between WORK, which has so many bad associations in Western society and TORTURE, which ironically so many of us think we deserve (???). There is joy and satisfaction and grounding to be found in necessary work. There is no reward to be found in torture, only the profound loss of self. Please, can we stop confusing the two?!

    As always, your words are ensuring that I sleep well tonight 🙂

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    • Yes, Niamh, there’s a lot of confusion about what work means in marriage. Certainly we’re not asking people to tolerate abuse or disrespect, but we are asking that we rewrite the marriage narrative from one that expects everything to be easy and to have all those “love” feelings to one that recognizes that it’s when the feelings fade that the real work begins – which means the work of learning how to love another well.

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      • “Rewriting the Marriage Narrative” is a wonderful way to put it! I think I’ve found my wedding theme 🙂

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  5. Is it possible to not really be able to FEEL love in general? I know I love my family and care about them but I don’t FEEL it. It used to be like that with my partner of 7 yrs too but a few months ago I suddenly didn’t KNOW it any more and haven’t ever really felt it either
    so I’ve been doubting our relationship ever since. I don’t know if it’s just part of my personality and how I experience love because I never felt it with other partners either, or I just haven’t met the right person… please help 🙁

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    • Hi Meg,

      I don’t know if this will help, but what you’re describing sounds like a version of depersonalization that I’ve experienced during times of acute and chronic stress. That’s basically a big scary word for something your brain does when it senses you’re under threat—it literally tries to remove you from the stressful situation through emotional detachment. According to my wise therapist (not to mention the bulk of Sheryl’s work), relationships are vulnerable places to be, so it’s understandable that an anxious mind would resist the kind of emotional connection that naturally comes with them. What has helped me is using various methods to reassure my fear brain that it is safe to be present, through mindfulness, engaging in activities that feed my “Well of Self” as Sheryl beautifully puts it, deep breathing, safety mantras/self-hypnosis and sometimes even wrapping a blanket tightly around my shoulders and simply telling myself that I’m safe. If you are an HSP, you are already uniquely tuned in to the state of the world, and there certainly is plenty going on right now to scare away most people’s sense of security! I’m not surprised that you’re experiencing these feelings (or lack thereof) in recent months AT ALL.

      Try to remember that love is still there, even when you can’t feel it, and it will become easier to feel its warmth the more you work on soothing the part of you that is terrified of the consequences of connection.
      Hope that makes at least *some* sense :).
      Take care!

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  6. Thank you, Sheryl! If only everyone would learn this. While not my main
    hook, I have surely wondered in the past, “how do I know he’s the one?” And “am I happy enough?” Luckily, when we are having a hard season (especially now with a pandemic, and two little ones at home and two FT jobs), my husband reminds me we’re in it for the long haul, it’s a journey, the tough stuff will pass…and then I don’t feel so scared that I’m going to feel irritated, overwhelmed or bored forever. I now realize (from your work/course) that I’m in control of my aliveness, love is action, happiness is a choice. It’s truly a breath of fresh air to know this.

    One question – is it common for the highly sensitive/anxious types to assess/wonder if they are happy “enough”? Sometimes I’ll catch myself almost measuring my happiness level and, if I don’t catch myself, I let myself become irritated and project that into my husband. I sometimes feel that I should feel happier (as I have the husband and family I’ve dreamed of) and feel guilty to not feel “happier.”

    Learning what love really is has been hard lesson to learn (believing the fairytale was so much easier! :)) but such an important one! Even though I’ve made a loving choice, not every day is going to be easy, we’re not always going to feel connected and I’m not going to be happy all the time. That’s not what love is. And that’s okay!

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    • It sounds like you’ve learned in great strides about what real love is. Yes, it’s quite common for HSPs to wonder if they’re happy enough. It could be part of the “just right” anxiety that I wrote about a few weeks ago, and it could also be pointing to a need to grow a more consistent gratitude practice. This is also what I teach in the Open Your Heart course.

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  7. Dear Sheryl ~

    I just read through this post twice now and feel I could / should actually take notes from it. The timing could definitely not be more perfect.

    The lock-down has been very hard on my boyfriend’s and mine relationship as we have spent more time together with each other than anyone else. I think it is starting to wear on both of us, and one thing that has always been obvious is he is an introvert and I am an extrovert. But this lock-down as REALLLLLY brought to this our attention and is definitely at a point that is is becoming problematic to our relationship.

    I wish I could sign up for your course this session as I think it would be very beneficial to us right now. But unfortunately, the timing for both of us just isn’t good. HOPEFULLY next session we can attend.

    In the meantime, I am wondering if you have any articles or book recommendations on how an introvert and an extrovert can maintain, and thrive, in a loving relationship? I am open to anything you recommend as I really beginning to struggle bad in our relationship and I hate the thought of giving up on it after 4 years.

    Thank You So much for all you provide for us HSP. Your writings are always so spot on and much appreciated.

    Sincerely,
    LDH

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      • Thank You Sheryl ~

        What an amazing collection of recommendations.

        Hopefully one will be targeted to OPPOSITES in a relationship.
        ( Introvert and Extrovert couples)

        I appreciate your reply.

        Sincerely,
        LDH

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    • LDH,

      I think you’ll find that a lot of great couples are introvert/extrovert combos. Extroverts nudge the introverts out. The introverts help extroverts from blowing their energy on every “squirrel” that captures their attention. And, as the extrovert in our diad, I “feel” you. Though neither of us are extreme specimens on the extro/introversion spectrum, I have had to develop tolerance (forbearance? compassion?) for when he shuts down and he knows that my Zoom knitting group is life right now.

      We know couples where the energy is so extroverted that it’s hard to imagine them connecting and others who hardly leave the house. The push-me-pull-you thing makes for some challenges, but the balance it provides rocks.

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  8. hello Sheryl! It is very nice to have found your “virtual doorstep”:) I’ve been considering your course for quite sometime now but I’m terrified it won’t apply to me….as sometimes I find myself almost wanting to jump ship which seems far from descriptions of relationship anxiety that I have read on your site….however, I do love him and don’t want to leave at the same time….I’m very interested in your course but I am afraid I am beyond help or even too far from relationship anxiety to be helped….I would really appreciate your insight & recommendations for courses if they would help me normalize my feelings (if they are normal:(). Thank you for posting the wonderful content you do! I will keep reading!

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      • I have been looking into your work for a while. I have been suffering for a number of years with obsessive thinking and rumination. I also experience depersonalization and terrible memory lapses. I recently met a wonderful woman and have been in a relationship with her for 2.5 years. She is so supportive and caring. I now constantly question if I am actually heterosexual and the rightness of my relationship with a woman. What if I was wrong etc? I analyze past events and relationships and get stuck on what went wrong or try to figure out my sexuality from those fragments of memory. Would any of your courses suit my experience?

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  9. and just to add on (I’m so sorry!) he really is the best man I know and he is everything I could and ever have wanted in a life partner but these negative feelings make me think it’s doomed…..

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  10. Thank you for your introductory comment. I find myself feeling sad and tired alot. I cry at the unfairness of how life can be. I feel very thankful and privileged but also very guilty which can then lead to sadness. I find myself on my yoga mat more often. It is very grounding for me but the stillness leads to alot of tears. I am having a hard time making sense all my feelings.

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  11. I’m a long time lurker on this blog – it has been so helpful as I prepare to transition to a married state. I don’t know what I would have done without this blog to lean on.

    My fiancé stumbled across this study and I thought it would be great to share here. It’s a scientific study on relationship satisfaction and what makes a good relationship and can be summed up “ “The dynamic that you build with someone — the shared norms, the in-jokes, the shared experiences — is so much more than the separate individuals who make up that relationship.” It’s what you build and can build with someone that’s truly important!

    https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/dating-study-predicts-happy-relationships

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    • Yes! And I’ll be sharing more about building together in the next blog post ;).

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  12. Hi Sheryl and Anyone who could help with my situation ,

    I thought I would share with you my situation before purchasing the BreakFree course. I do believe I have relationship anxiety, as I completed your RA test and had multiple boxes ticked from each section, but I would like to clarify this with you. This is my first EVER relationship that I have been in (I’ve never had a boyfriend before this), which started at the end of last year.

    My current partner/boyfriend and I met around 2 years ago. We went on dates here and there but nothing came out of it initially as I wasn’t physically attracted, however, we connected really well and were able to talk for hours on end. Even though after each date I wasn’t “sure” about him, something in me kept wanting to contact him, continue going on dates with him (which happened months later), and basically having him in my life.

    In the meantime I had gone on dates with other men who I had found physically attractive, however they weren’t interested in me and there wasn’t much of a connection and those dates were quite awkward as we didn’t have much to talk about. Then one day in July/august 2019, out of nowhere my partner (who wasn’t my partner at the time) actually randomly started messaging me whilst in Europe, that is how we started talking again. We went on dates here and there again and though even though I still wasn’t “sure”, I knew that he was someone I got along with like a house on fire.

    Last year in November, I thought I would give it a shot and give this awesome man a chance, as we connected really well, and we decided to make things official and we started a relationship. At first, I wasn’t sure about this and had many doubts, as it seemed so rushed and once again I wasn’t “sure” so to speak. I was even crying as I didn’t know what to do. So we decided to just stick to “seeing each other”.

    After spending more and more time with him I started getting Real feelings for this man. I felt really happy and warm inside and actually wanted to see him more and more, and in December we officially became boyfriend and girlfriend again haha! The next four months were amazing and I really fell in love with him and knew that I wanted to marry this man one day. In those four months I knew that this is what love is and that this was why it never worked with anyone else because this was beautiful, I believed that he was my soul mate and best friend, it was real/true love…I even told him so, and he agreed 🙂
    It was then about two months into the relationship that I started getting the “what if I’m gay?” Intrusive thoughts. Mind you these initially started when I was 16 years old and I have been diagnosed with GAD. After two months of these “gay” thoughts, however, I was still very happy and loving in my relationship, it was perfect.

    However, it was in April this year, where I believe this relationship anxiety started. One day I had a thought that said “I don’t think I love my partner anymore” and “I might need to break up with him” and “this is why I have these gay thoughts because I don’t “really” love him”. I believe the RA may have stemmed from the gay thoughts but I’m not sure. This caused me massive stress and massive anxiety and I feel that since April it has just gotten worse. Some of these thoughts since then have been thing like:
    -I don’t love him otherwise I wouldn’t be like this.
    -I wasn’t attracted to him initially what if I’m just convincing myself that I love him so I’m Not alone.
    -I want to break up with him, then I probably won’t have these thoughts
    -this is getting worse
    -I feel no love in my heart anymore, this must be a sign
    The list goes on and on.

    I also have felt that since April/May, since the thoughts and anxiety got worse, my feelings towards my partner have changed in a way where I don’t see him the “same”, and have just felt so confused and filled with more doubt. Then there are also times where I don’t feel “anxious” and I’m calm and I still feel like this and think “well This must mean I don’t want to be with him if I’m like this and I feel calm”.
    I just want things to go back to how they were, when I knew I loved him and wanted to marry him, when there wasn’t doubt.

    I have spoken about this with my partner and he is very supportive and believes that it is just my anxiety and intrusive thoughts (even though of course I’m skeptical about it and believe it’s not anxiety and I’m just an exception). He is very kind and compassionate and recommended that I see a psychologist, I’ve only had one Appointment but felt like it didn’t help yet, I’m still keen to go. I also found your website and even though I do believe it and get happy at times, the thoughts and feelings come back stronger and take over and I get upset again (back to square one), down the rabbit hole of anxiety.

    I have also gotten advice from my sister and mother. My mother is quite supportive and believes it’s anxiety but also thinks that inside I should “just know” if I want to be with him, and because of my anxiety I just feel like I don’t know, and that scares me, because there’s no feeling inside 🙁 My sister on the other hand thinks I should break up because I’m feeling like this, and that DEFINITELY does not help the situation. I’ve been crying a lot lately and feel more anxious and depressed when I hear this.

    But in saying all of this, and knowing that the mind can convince you of anything, especially anxiety. There is a part of me that can’t leave him and won’t give up! I can’t give up on the special relationship and bond that we share. I honestly have never connected with someone like this in my life, no word of a lie. Even if my mind is saying I don’t love him or to break up with him, there are times where I have no emotion at all and believes I should just do it OR I get the opposite and get VERY very upset and can not believe that I would even consider breaking up with him. He is literally the perfect guy, he treats me like I am a queen, and I am almost in tears writing this to you because I feel so bad about these thoughts and feelings, when I just want the other feelings back. There are NO red flags at all, from what I have read on your website. I also may think it might be because I’ve never been in a relationship before so it’s all new to me and I am transitioning to the next step in my life.. and to be honest, I am someone that has believes that love is like Hollywood (even though after reading your website, I know this is very wrong)!!!

    Sorry for the very long story, I just felt like I needed to write it all down. Please Sheryl. I would kindly like to hear back from you or someone who has experienced something like this and can relate. I am 100% committed to starting the course if you believe this is RA, it’s time to break free and start living and loving once again!

    Thanks so much everyone.

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  13. Dear Sheryl,

    Ten years after reading “The Wisdom of Insecurity” by Alan Watts, I’m now reading your interesting book “The Wisdom of Anxiety”.

    Yesterday I got your newsletter and I couldn’t help but wonder about what you think about polyamory (not polygamy) which, as you probably know, is defined as “the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the informed consent of all partners involved. It has been described as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.” Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory

    It’s strange that monogamy is the norm in our society when we know that the species we descend from are not monogamous. Socially imposed monogamy originated in the late Middle Ages and has been maintained since that period by a variety of social controls and ideologies, including political activities of the Christian Church. It has since developed in our Western society. It certainly has its advantages (family stability, economically, …) but more and more people feel trapped, unfulfilled in a single and exclusive relationship.

    Cheating on a partner who loves you is not the solution but what do you do with the love and attraction you also may have for other men/women? What do you do with all the anxiety, shame and guilt only because you fall in love with someone else and you can’t afford to have more beautiful, interesting, life-changing relationships without taking the risk to hurt and loose the person you live with, the person you still love, a special and unique human being? When you feel that one person is not “enough” for one or many reasons (i.e. you feel emotionally and intellectually compatible but not sexually, or you need your love to expand, not to be exclusive, etc.)?

    It’s not only about intimacy (sex) but mainly about multiple loves. There is a lot of anxiety generated by a lifelong imposed cultural and societal conditioning that is no longer compatible with who you really are (the awakened version of you), with what you deeply feel and want.

    Any thoughts, Sheryl?

    Thank you for your constant insights, inspiration and love.

    Edwarda

    Reply
  14. Hi there! I’ve been following your work for a while and it’s completely changed my life. I’ve always worried though, I’ve had that warm and comforting feeling with my boyfriend before, in the first six months of our relationship. I’m in high school still and so I used to see him every day and I felt so happy and proud to call him mine. But after quarantine started everything changed and I feel like while my acute anxiety is gone he feels like just a friend. My attraction to him has lessened significantly, it’s terrifying how I can’t stop thinking about how I’d prefer it if his face were thinner, and those warm feelings come for a few seconds only before disappearing. Otherwise I feel like while he’s my best friend, I don’t feel much for him anymore. I’ve done lots of inner work to address my anxiety but I’m scared that at the end of the day we’re just meant to be friends. Has anyone else gotten through this?

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  15. Hey Sheryl,

    First off I just want to say how helpful your posts are to me, even as a young teenage guy. Second off, I have a quick question. When I’m anxious, is it okay that I think “oh I don’t really like my partner at her core” and “I don’t really want to work on this for her” – does that mean I just don’t like her and our relationship is doomed or am I just fearful?

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    • Any thoughts you’re having while anxious are coming from fear. This is why it’s important to write out a document of clarity when anxiety is not in the driver’s seat so that you can refer to it when fear comes back in.

      Reply
  16. This is such an insightful post. I am constantly worrying if I’m in love, do I love my girlfriend or if I’m just settling. Seeing a photo of her is enough to make me smile and I often end up saying out loud I love you when seeing a photo of her.

    I wonder if it’s just anxious attachment that keeps me with her, but she is a genuine person who I seem drawn to which I don’t know what it is. People ask me what I love about her and I can’t pinpoint it, it’s just her. I often question my answer if that is ever sufficient? Sorry that this comment is for an old post!

    Love reading your work

    Reply
  17. Hi Sheryl I desperately need your help, still saving for the course. When I’m with my partner I look at her admiration. And know I just deeply care about her and would do anything for her (does this sound like love?) I never question my love for her when I’m with her, but when I’m away I feel too calm to the point it feels like indifference, I’m questioning if I love her, is it infatuation, just attachment etc. I also question this because I don’t have the in love feelings. The last thing I will say, when I am with her I feel calm and a sense of ‘home’.

    Thank you reading this Sheryl

    Reply
  18. Sorry I meant I look at her in admiration.

    Reply

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