Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: The Real Reason Relationships End in Heartache
By Nanice Ellis
Contribution Writer for Wake Up World
Have you ever wondered why so many relationships end in heartache? Even relationships that begin with incredible love, faithful promises and the best of intentions often come to a bitter end. If love is all you need, why does it all go so wrong?
What if I told you, there is a single core issue responsible for almost every break up and break down, and, not just in our romantic relationships, but in all our relationships?
As a relationship coach for almost twenty years, I share this insight with you now so that you can gain the wisdom and power to find love in all the right places.
Humanity's Invisible Wound
Most of humanity is silently suffering from the invisible wound of unworthiness. Because we have amnesia of our true selves, and we have forgotten that we are unconditionally loved by an All Loving Source, we come into this world asking, "Am I worthy of love?" From our first breath, we seek this answer, not knowing that the life-long quality of our relationships, prosperity and health all depend on our immature interpretation of the signs.
In most cases, this pivotal answer is, "I am worthy if…." Until we awaken, Conditional Worthiness is the foundational belief for almost every human being on this planet, and the core belief that every other belief is based upon. If you believe that you are fundamentally unworthy of love unless you meet certain conditions, you will construct a reality built on this false premise, and, as a result, you will embark on this game of life, seeking love outside yourself, and building unsustainable relationships upon that search.
Most people spend their entire lives trying to prove that they are worthy of love, never considering that the quest for worthiness is impossible to fulfill, nor understanding, that this impossible quest covertly sabotages virtually every loving relationship.
The Core Wound
If you look deep, you will find that the core wound of all emotional wounds is the belief of unworthiness or conditional worthiness. This belief is so painful because it is completely untrue, but since our parents, teachers and peers all suffer from the same debilitating belief, it seems perfectly normal.
As a way to cope with the emotional wound of unworthiness, the well-meaning ego selects a "primary emotional need," that when met, temporarily fills this wound. The "primary emotional need" is specific to you and your life experiences, with the most common emotional needs including: appreciation, approval, acceptance, understanding and being heard, but there are many more, as well. This means that if your primary emotional need is acceptance, you must somehow get others to accept you, again and again, in order to feel worthy of love. Our personalities become molded according to this need and our unconscious strategies to get this need met, influencing our choice of careers, friends, clothes, interests and just about everything else.
Although we are usually unaware of this primary emotional need, there is a part of us who is constantly tracking for the fulfillment of this need, and, consequently, altering our behavior in order to get it met.
We might sacrifice our desires for approval, compromise our values for appreciation or hide behind a false self in exchange for being understood. Without knowing it, your primary emotional need runs your life, making you do things you don't really want to do, and keeping you from expressing your true self. It is an invisible prison of your own making, and, even if you can get others to meet this emotional need, it is never enough to fill this bottomless pit of unworthiness.
Romantic Chemistry — A Trick in Disguise?
In an unconscious attempt to heal this wound, many of us search for that one special person who can love us enough to make us whole, but we fail to take into account that the wise Universe has another plan.
A substantial component of what we call romantic chemistry is the unconscious pull towards someone who will not meet our primary emotional need, and, as a result, trigger our emotional issues. Of course, when we first get to know this person, and we feel attracted, we usually believe that he/she will provide us with what we need emotionally, even if we are not sure what that is – which is generally the case. So, we open our hearts and we let this person in, totally expecting the relationship to grow and flourish, but within days, weeks, months or years, we recognize that we feel hurt and unloved because our partner is not giving us what we need emotionally, and then we blame him/her for withholding love. Our love language is really a language of emotional needs. No matter how much your partner says, or does, the "right" things, if he/she doesn't meet your primary emotional need, you will likely feel unloved and unsatisfied.
This is the cause of dysfunction in virtually every problematic relationship. When our partner is not meeting our primary emotional need, we either sacrifice ourselves to do whatever it takes for our partner to love us in the way that we desire, be that through appreciation, approval or understanding, etc…, and if our partner still does not meet this emotional need, we defend ourselves with anger, resentment, resistance or we just shut down. We withhold love from our partner by denying him or her their primary emotional need in return. Of course, this is all orchestrated, by us, without our awareness. We just feel hurt and unloved, and, so, we try to protect ourselves.
Your Love Receptors
If you unconsciously believe that you are only worthy of love if your primary emotional need is met, your love receptors will only turn on when you perceive that this condition is satisfied, but, as soon as the condition is no longer satisfied, the receptors turn off. Your condition must also be met by a certain type of person, or a specific person. You might also have self- imposed conditions, for example, if you don't look a certain way, even if your partner is meeting your emotional need, you won't feel loved because your love receptors are turned off. This means that even a "bad hair day" can negatively impact a relationship.
The bottom line is, even if someone truly loves us, if our conditions are not met, we unconsciously block love. Conditions don't bring us love – conditions block love.
On the surface, challenging relationships that our based on the "worthiness game" might seem like a waste of time, but, by no small means, this dynamic is by Divine Design. On a higher level, our true selves are playing the healing game. No matter the facts, details or history, the greater part of us is conspiring for our awakening. We don't attract people who will meet our emotional needs because if those needs were met by others, we would remain oblivious to the deeper wound, which is not feeling worthy of love, and that wound would go forever unhealed, keeping us out of alignment with our true spiritual nature. We need someone (important to us) who will withhold the very thing we believe we need most, so that the pain and suffering associated with not getting this need met, will alert us to this wound, in such a way, we cannot ignore.
Relationships are meant to trigger issues so that we know that they exist within us, and we have the opportunity to heal, and free ourselves.
Many years ago, I found myself in a long term relationship where I felt completely unappreciated. I bent over backwards and even sacrificed my own integrity in order to receive morsels of appreciation, but no matter what I did, I still felt unappreciated. I requested, I demanded, I whined – still, less than nothing. As I grew resentful that my partner withheld appreciation, I began to withhold understanding. The key nuggets of our frequent arguments were, "You don't appreciate me" versus "You don't understand me." As I felt unappreciated, I also felt unworthy of love, and as the pain grew with the passing of time, I arrived at the point where I was done seeking appreciation because it was just too painful.
The true purpose of emotional pain is to wake us up, and make us pay attention to the false belief(s) that is causing the pain in the first place.
Of course, you can ignore this pain through methods of distraction, addiction, rationalization, etc… but pain is designed to grow stronger the longer you ignore it, requiring greater and greater methods of avoidance. Depending on your ability to tolerate emotional pain, eventually, there will come a point, where the only way to be free of this pain is to uncover its true source and pull it up from the roots.
Finally, I stopped looking outside myself and I looked within. I began to see a hidden history revolving around my need for appreciation that began with my mother in childhood. I could see that my need for appreciation was a symptom of trying to prove that I was worthy of love. I could also see that there was an empty space inside me where my own self-love was missing. It became perfectly clear that in this unconscious game of trying to prove my worth, the cards were stacked against me.
Relationships cannot prove your worth. Relationships can only demonstrate whether or not you believe that you are worthy.
Until we are fully awake in our lives, the purpose of relationships, and especially intimate ones, is to alert us to our disempowering beliefs, so that we can heal and wake up. Other people, we call family, lovers and friends unknowingly act out our false beliefs and trigger our issues so that we have the opportunity to recognize and release these false beliefs and heal our wounds. Therefore, if I believe that my worth is conditional and I must prove that I am worthy, my partner can only reflect this belief by unconsciously offering behavior (withholding my primary emotional need) that activates my feelings of unworthiness.
If you don't love yourself, you will need others to behave certain ways so that you feel worthy of love, but others can only demonstrate your belief that you don't feel worthy of love.
In addition, because worth is intrinsic and unconditional, it cannot be proven or disproven. The mere act of trying to prove that you are worthy or getting others to treat you a certain way so that you feel worthy, comes from a belief that you are not worthy. If you know that you are unconditionally worthy of love, you don't need proof.