Love is experienced in relationship. Without someone to love you, the feelings of love – the warmth in a mother’s heart, the gladness of friendship, the excitement of intimacy – have no stimulus. That is why the commonest image for being unloved is being alone.
When you are alone, there seems to be no relationship. People who find themselves alone rarely feel any incentive to explore love. They await contact with another person or run out to seek it. Thus we become dependent on other people to make us feel totally and permanently loved.
This expectation will, however, always be defeated, and although we blame those who failed to respond to us, who responded but then left, who stayed but then changed their minds, none of them is finally the cause of our problem. The cause is our inability to develop an unshakable relationship with ourselves. The Self is the source of love. People who live their own love stories have learned this lesson above all.
The absence of love is as devastating as its presence is beneficial. We will have to assume, unfortunately, that most people are not living a love story right now. Even those who say they are most deeply in love may be deluding themselves, at least in part.
Once it has grown to fullness, a love based on spirit has no fear of being wounded. Imperfect forms of love are much more vulnerable. Almost everyone has asked for love and received rejection instead. The effect of rejection, failure, humiliation, and other traumas is to numb one’s feelings.
Love requires sensitivity. It must have openness. Whatever has numbed you makes it much harder for you to feel love. Therefore people who are numb at the emotional level cannot live their love stories.
Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).