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Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you change your belief that love doesn’t exist. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.
If you’re one of the many people who believe that love doesn’t exist, chances are it’s for a good reason.
After all, we often have aversions to things if we associate them with negativity, and trauma certainly falls into that category.
A visit to Reddit or Quora to determine whether or not love exists will yield many arguments for or against it. Folks who have had unpleasant experiences with love are usually in the “against” camp and will cite all manner of reasons to justify why “love” is just a combination of hormonal fluctuations and self-preservation techniques.
In contrast, many who have experienced love will swear that it’s real, and beautiful, and worth fighting and dying for.
So, if you’re having trouble believing in love, how can you get over that?
Does love really exist?
Absolutely yes, and that’s not an idealistic response. Love exists in countless forms, felt by humans and animals alike. We see love manifest between friends, family members, pets and their people, and wild creatures great and small.
So why hesitate to believe in it?
Maybe you grew up surrounded by people who didn’t know how to treat one another lovingly. Or perhaps you were betrayed by someone you loved and who claimed to love you in turn. These experiences can make anyone believe that love isn’t real. After all, if it were, then you wouldn’t have been hurt that badly.
Furthermore, it hurts far less to believe that it isn’t real, rather than thinking that it is and you just haven’t felt it.
But love does exist, and it’s worth experiencing – despite the potential hurts that may go along with it. And here’s why:
1. Your experiences with love thus far are only part of the greater picture.
When I first started dating my last partner, I asked him whether he liked seafood. He replied that he didn’t eat fish because he grew up eating it and couldn’t stand it. He’d been forced to eat breaded frozen fish sticks and “Filet-o-Fish” burgers from McDonald’s, and hated fish forever after.
That was it. That was the extent of his experience with eating any kind of seafood.
He was hesitant to try it ever again, so I started to offer things to him clandestinely. When he huffed a bunch of appetizers I had made, I commented on how he had just eaten Cajun fish cakes and apparently adored them. I added tuna to pasta puttanesca, put extra fish sauce in padh Thai, and added clams to potato and corn chowder.
Why am I talking about fish here? Because this guy who was dead-set against eating it, who had decided that seafood was disgusting and he didn’t want anything to do with it, ended up enraptured with the stuff. It may be weird to compare this experience with love, but the baseline is the same.
If your only experiences with love so far have been as bland, tasteless, and uninspiring as warmed-up breaded fish sticks, it’s no wonder you don’t have a high opinion of it.
2. The exposure you had to unhealthy relationships was not an accurate picture.
If you grew up in a family where “love” was associated with abuse, manipulation, or neglect, then it’s not surprising that you have skepticism or reluctance to allow love into your life.
Many of us grew up experiencing love that was conditional or used as a weapon. Parents only loved us when we were behaving the way they wanted us to, and then that love was withheld if and when we dared to step out of line.
Others grew up with parents who claimed to love each other, but were physically violent towards one another, or communicated with screams and threats rather than compassionate loving kindness.
When these are the only examples that one has experienced, how can one be expected to have blind faith that love can be different?
If the word “hello” was always accompanied by a kick in the ribs, it’s only natural that one would flinch in expectation of pain every time they heard that word. Similarly, they would feel like they had to suspend their disbelief if and when they watched a film or read a book in which that word was used joyfully.
If you grew up in a situation where love was associated with pain and abuse, it can take a long time and a lot of effort to shift your perspective. Furthermore, a lot of damage can be done on all sides if you try to have romantic relationships before trying to heal those wounds within yourself.
People who sincerely want to love you may come into your life, but you might push them away because you’re afraid of getting hurt again. Or you may find yourself perpetuating unhealthy cycles because you’re just going by what you know.
Therapy is often put forward as a solution to many of a person’s issues, and there’s a good reason for that. Therapists who have experience with helping people heal from poisonous family dynamics have tools and techniques under their belts that can be immensely helpful.
Trying to muddle through and heal oneself might take a lot longer and hurt a lot more than is necessary, as opposed to allowing a counsellor to offer advice and methods to work through these challenges.
See it kind of like allowing a medical professional to set a broken leg properly and offer some physiotherapy exercises to help it heal. You could of course sort it out yourself, but the healing process would take a lot longer and you might end up with a life-long limp rather than a strong limb that can support you properly.
3. ‘Love Actually’ is not how love actually is.
Ideas of what love is supposed to look like can be unrealistic. That two-hour film about an “epic” love story is unlikely to show you how all aspects of love can unfold between people.
After all, entertainment and social media posts are nice to look at, but they’re curated to give off a certain feeling or aesthetic.
Love can be kind, beautiful, and exciting, but it can also be difficult and messy. When people love one another, the ideal is to love each other because of everything that goes in with them, not despite the mess.
It’s wonderful to walk with a loved one during the first snowfall, and excruciating to stay by their side during painful medical treatments to try to keep them alive. It’s gorgeous having breakfast in bed together, and awful yelling at one another about orange juice because you’re both hideously sleep deprived because of a screamy newborn.
But when people truly love each other, they’re willing to sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of the other’s health and happiness.
Real love can also be quite boring at times. For example, it might involve sitting at a table together for hours to work out a family budget with a newly reduced income.
Love can also be immensely comfortable. It’s beautiful knowing someone so intimately that you understand how their minds and bodies work, and to be known that well in turn.
Sometimes love means standing by the other person’s side through thick and thin. Other times, it means letting go of them so they can follow a dream or live in a way that’s more authentic to their own soul’s longing.
4. Romantic connection is merely one form that love can take.
Many cultures have both acknowledged and categorized different types of love. In English, we use the word “love” to describe many different forms, but just because love can manifest differently doesn’t mean that these various forms are any greater or lesser than any other.
You may not have experienced romantic love before, or you might have grown up in a home environment where you didn’t receive much loving kindness from your caregivers. But chances are you’ve experienced love in different forms before.
Do you have close friendships with people you care about, and who are eager to help you during difficult times? Or perhaps you have an animal companion whom you dote upon and fuss over. These are very powerful examples of love, and are just a couple of the ways that love can manifest.
Healthcare workers show love to their patients when they tend to their wounds and try to alleviate their suffering. Gardeners who dearly love their plants will water them diligently and spend hours removing insect pests from brittle leaves. A person who works in a religious capacity may show love to members of their congregation by making home visits to the sick, or volunteering to stay with someone in hospice so they don’t die alone, if they have no family to sit with them.
If you open your eyes – and your heart – to some of the many, wonderful ways that love can unfold, you’ll realize just how many opportunities there are to experience it. Once you see the care and devotion that people are capable of, you’ll start to get an idea of how that can manifest in just about everyone’s life.
5. Hurt and miscommunication can occur when we don’t speak the same language.
Have you already read our article on the five different love languages? If you haven’t yet, please start there.
Countless people have been hurt and disappointed in various relationships because of miscommunication between love languages. Many of us express and understand love in different ways, and if those around us quite literally speak a different language than us, then we won’t feel seen or cared for, and neither will they.
I’ll give you an example of this: recently, I helped to counsel some friends who were going through a rough patch in their relationship. He didn’t feel cared for or loved by her, and she felt like he was being both too needy and insincere towards her. When we broke down why both of them were feeling this way, we found the crux of the matter was their opposing “love languages” (LL).
His primary LL is verbal expression, and his secondary one is gift-giving. In contrast, her primary LL is physical affection, and her secondary one is acts of service. In essence, what’s been happening with them is that they’ve both been trying to show love in the way that they understand, and that they would want to receive. But since their languages oppose one another, the messages are being misconstrued and lost on both sides.
When he let her know that she didn’t tell him often enough that she loves him, she got upset about the fact that she shows him a million times a day but he doesn’t seem to see it. Meanwhile, she was getting annoyed by his constant compliments, and simply buying her “random crap,” like he was trying too hard.
It was only by digging into these issues that they were able to “get” that they were saying the same things to one another, in the only ways that they knew how.
If you’re of the mindset that love doesn’t exist, consider the possibility that the way you give and receive love might be the opposite from those around you. Try to pull back and see various situations from other perspectives, and you might glean something new about past experiences.
Quite often, experiencing the kind of love we’ve wanted but never received can be remedied by connecting with others who actually speak our language.
5 Ways To Rekindle Your Faith That Love Exists
There are many sources out there to help spark your faith in love. The key is to make sure that what’s helping to kindle love in your heart is something sincere, rather than a form of escapism or martyrdom.
1. Turn to real life examples, rather than fantasy.
One of the best things you can do is immerse yourself in real-life love stories. Romance novels and films are lovely and all, and if they help to start melting your heart a little bit, that’s great! Just make sure that you counterbalance the fantasy with reality too.
For example, delve into the story of Isidor and Ida Straus. Their names might not be familiar to you right now, but if you’ve ever seen the film Titanic, they’re the elderly couple that chose to die together rather than be separated. Yes, that scene was based on real life.
When the first-class passengers were being ushered into lifeboats, Ida refused to get in unless her husband was allowed with her. When he wasn’t, she stepped back out, gave her fur coat to her maid, and walked with Isidor to the prow of the ship to die by his side.
Although that story might be over a century old at this point, there are many other stories out there that are just like it. In fact, you may come across many of them on social media. Instagram is full of accounts of couples who fought all manner of hardships to be together, or who weathered great difficulties as a devoted team.
Like Stephanie and Christian Nielson, who survived a terrible plane crash together. Stephanie got third-degree burns over 80% of her body, and Christian had severe burns as well. Their shared experience brought them even closer together and inspired them to become motivational speakers, and to help other burn victims.
Or Shane and Hannah Burcaw, who have an incredibly loving relationship that transcends Shane’s physical limitations due to his Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
2. Throw out your wishlist.
As mentioned earlier, many people have unrealistic ideas of what love really looks like. We’ll expand upon that a bit by saying that many people have ideas of what they want love to look or be like. When love doesn’t unfold (or look) the way they want it to, they get jaded and disappointed and figure that it doesn’t exist at all.
This is rather like being at a gourmet, international buffet luncheon and saying there’s nothing to eat, simply because they’re not serving the dish that you were expecting to see.
When you relax into the journey that life is taking you on, you make room for the unexpected. Things tend to fall into place when they’re ready to unfold naturally, and forcing them will prevent them from thriving.
You may have a clear picture in your mind about what love “should” look like. Furthermore, you might have envisioned scenarios playing out a specific way. Then, when they don’t, you think that’s proof that love doesn’t exist, rather than acknowledging that other people aren’t actors on our life’s film set, and that situations never unfold the way we want them to.
Instead of actively pursuing something that you think you want, focus on your own interests and let what’s meant for you come to you. Like befriending a wild animal, love will make its way to you when you’re not trying to claw after it, cling to it, or force it to be with you.
3. Be willing to love unconditionally: without the intention to receive in turn.
One of the best ways to experience love is to give it to others. The key here is to ensure that it’s a gift freely given – not done with the expectation that you’ll be loved back.
This kind of love often manifests in parenting, if the parents are kind, compassionate people. They’ll pour love into their children, making sure they feel safe, wanted, encouraged, and accepted unconditionally. Some people foster or adopt children in order to ensure that they have the best possible start in life, and don’t expect anything in return.
Although it might sting a bit when we give love to others that they don’t give back to us in kind, love inevitably shows up in a different form. In fact, sometimes our love can be the catalyst for immense change in someone else’s life, but their life isn’t going to include you.
And that’s okay. Do you know why? Because your life is going to take a different direction than expected as well.
Quite often, we’ll pursue things (or people) we think we want with every fiber of our being, and are then devastated when things don’t turn out the way we wanted. In reality, that very situation is often a blessing in disguise, even if we don’t see it as such until years later.
You might have been badly hurt – even abandoned – by someone you loved dearly, and it may have shattered you to the core in the moment. But by doing so, they saved you from a life that would have caused you abject misery. They have their own path to follow now, with valuable lessons that they learned through the experience. And more importantly, they have given you the most precious gift of all: freedom from them.
If you were stuck with this person, you wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet and love the others who will come into your life. In fact, these wonderful other folks might have already made an appearance, and are patiently waiting for you to truly see them.
4. Take the initiative to work through the reasons why you believe that love doesn’t exist.
Whether you choose to do your own shadow work, or you do so with the help of a therapist is up to you. The key is to address all the reasons why you’ve come to conclude that love doesn’t exist.
This may involve looking into the shadowy corners that you’ve been avoiding for a long time. It means being brutally honest with yourself and dealing with all kinds of emotions and wounds that have been festering and eating away at you.
You’ll need to ask yourself some intense questions that pertain specifically to the situations that led you to lose your belief in love.
See if you’re perpetuating unhealthy cycles in the hope of changing the past. One common example of this would be dating someone whose personality is similar to what you’ve experienced from an abusive parent or ex-partner. Many people unconsciously gravitate towards people who exhibit similar behaviors towards them, in the hope that this time things will work out differently. That this time, the neglectful person will wake up and acknowledge and appreciate them. Or the abusive person will become loving and kind instead.
Additionally, check in with yourself to see whether you’re still holding on to unpleasant experiences from your past far longer than you need to.
Most of us have had traumatic experiences – that’s part of human existence. The key is whether we’ve learned from those situations and tried to heal past them, or if we’ve held onto them and made them part of our existence.
Are you purposely keeping old wounds open so you can benefit from the victimhood associated with them? Or are you making a point of understanding why those things happened so as not to experience them again in future?
If you’re hung up on crappy experiences with former lovers or awful family members, then take real action to heal from them. Do severance rituals that can help cut lingering ties. Or do something more drastic and move across the country. Make some big changes in your life that define a clear shift from the person you were before to the one you are now.
5. Spend time with those who are truly loving.
One of the best ways to make you rethink your belief that love doesn’t exist is to immerse yourself in the company of those who are sincerely loving.
Think of all the people you know and have spent time with. There’s a good chance you’ve noticed that some of them are far more kind and loving than others. Being in their company might have pulled at your heartstrings because of how sweetly they behaved, or how others thrived in their presence.
These are the people you’ll want to spend more time with.
Limit your exposure to those who spout bitterness and anger, and immerse yourself in the company of those who love and give of themselves generously. Maybe they’re parents who dote on their children, or partners who openly adore one another. Perhaps they’re local elders who do volunteer work for the community.
We are all influenced by those around us, even on a subconscious level. As such, be very discerning with the company you keep. Spending time with bitter, angry people will sow bitter seeds within you, and will attract other spiky weeds in turn. In contrast, being around others who are loving and kind will brighten your spirits and help to open your heart.
Like calls to like, and when you exude love and joy, that’s exactly what you’ll attract in kind.
Work on yourself, be the kind of person you would want to have in your own life, and see what unfolds. There’s a very high probability that it’ll be far more beautiful than you ever expected.
Would you like to believe in love but currently don’t? Talking to someone can really help. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.
A therapist is often the best person you can talk to. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to identify the root causes of your current disbelief in love and be a helping hand as you work through those things.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
You might not think your problems are big enough to warrant professional therapy but please don’t do yourself that disservice. Nothing is insignificant if it is affecting your mental well-being.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
You may also like:
- How To Be Open To Love: 8 Ways To Let Yourself Be Loved
- 5 FALSE Reasons Why You Think You Don’t Deserve Love
- 10 Reasons Why You’re Scared To Be In A Relationship
- 13 Reasons For Optimism If You Worry You’ll Never Find Love
- Are Some People Meant To Be Alone And Destined To Stay Single?
- “No One Wants To Date Me” – 11 Ways To Improve Your Chances
- 12 Signs You’re Too Picky When It Comes To Your Love Life