“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”
— Charles Bukowski
In the beginning stages of a relationship, you are too busy floating on such an electric, natural high to remember the possibility of a comedown. It’s that giggly, newness — feeling like a cliche, but it’s so good. It’s so right. It seems improbable that anything could ever change, that anything could ever ruin this perfection.
Because that’s what you’ve found: perfection.
The word that will mess you up the first time you think it. When you’re so consumed with the honey moon bliss, intoxicated by every touch, every moment, you forget to read the signs. Because the truth is, we all wave red flags. That doesn’t mean you call it quits, it just means you pay attention. You take note. You understand, or try to.
But when you think it’s perfect? You won’t see it like that. You put on blinders for this new love. This new person. It doesn’t matter how many have come before, or if love has tossed you to the fire in the past.
In the beginning, none of that matters.
This person, you decide, that’s what matters.
But when you date someone who has no idea how to properly be loved? How to receive something so pure, so untainted without fleeing, without running because something like that seems too perfect to be real? You will learn that every fantasy has an ending. You will realize every relationship, no matter how intensely right it seems, requires work.
You will realize what you feel isn’t the only thing that matters. You will notice they pull away at first, and instead of asking what this means for them, you might assume it’s a reflection on you. Jealousies will set in. Insecurities will start to eat away at the perfection you thought you found. But this is important. Because you begin to learn the real stuff: the dark, twisty “not fairytale, but maybe this is the heart of it” stuff. Perfection will reveal itself to be what it is: imperfect. Not damaged. Not broken. Just imperfect.
When you date someone afraid of being loved, they don’t move as quickly as you do. They go back two steps and you wonder why. Perhaps they will tell you, in time. You might falsely believe you just have to love them enough. You just have to show them how worthy they are, and this is noble thinking. It comes from a beautiful place. But a relationship is two people. And one person cannot fundamentally change the other. They have to find these things for themselves. Love might be part of the solution, but it is not only yours to provide. They will have to discover the problem. They will have to decide, yes, this is an issue that I want to work towards.
When you date someone afraid of being loved, they will, at times, be afraid of you. And this stings. It feels like a slap in the face because you’ve been nothing but wonderful, right? You’ve been kind, supportive, tried so hard to show them what love looks like, what love feels like. You’re trying to remember that beginning bliss. You wonder if there are too many cracks in the ceiling to fix.
But it is not your responsibility to fix. It is not your duty to seduce a person into loving themselves. You can love them. And hell, they might love you back. But when you date someone afraid of being loved, you have to understand fear is just as much a drug as falling in love.
So they will resist. They will hold back. They will push. They will not know why. Or maybe they do. And the grand illusion of perfection is stripped away.
And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
If it’s meant to be, they will find a way. They will work through it. You will both work through it. And one day, love just won’t be so scary.