The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring. –Oscar Wilde
Love is hard to define, but most of us can agree that all of us want and need love. Even people who say they can get along without it want and need love; they just won’t admit it. We all know that our lives are richer and more satisfying when we have love. The most surprising thing is that, although each and every one of us is surrounded by true and unconditional love, most people end up accepting only pale imitations of the real thing, and they don’t even realize it.
Here are some types of imitation love that people fall for.
Approval: If you happen to be beautiful, handsome, or particularly talented, you will get lots of approval. You might also get approval of certain people if you are very smart or very strong. Of course, you can always get approval from people by agreeing with them, toadying up to them, or doing what they tell you.
Attention: Lots of needy kids do things to get the attention of adults, whether they are parents, teachers, or other members of the community. The kids who act out in class are invariably the ones who don’t get enough love at home for one reason or another, even if their parents are providing them with all the necessities of life, and even many of the luxuries of life.
Admiration: If you have a lot of money or a prestigious job, an advanced degree, a bigger than average home, or a powerful and expensive car, you are likely to be admired by a number of people. People also admire true talent or various skill certifications such as a black belt in a martial art, an Olympic gold medal, an honorary award such as the Nobel Prize, or a ranking such as being listed among the top ten bestsellers, the Forbes 500 list, Who’s Who, or Billboard 100. You might also be admired if you have a closet full of clothes that you wear well, or you know how to give the press a daily dose of sound bite or photo op.
Sex: If you have access to sexual partners, you feel attractive and you receive some physical pleasure. You can even imagine that the other person loves you, at least for a little while. (Sometimes that’s the case, and sometimes it’s not.) At least, for a moment, you have someone’s attention.
Pampering: If I treat myself well in terms of diet and exercise, I can say I am loving myself. If I spend money on clothes, salon treatments, and entertainment, that’s a form of loving, too. It makes me feel good.
Indulging: If I let myself eat whatever I want, spend as much money as I want (including gambling), and drink or smoke as much as I want, I am comforted by things outside of myself.
Most of us can agree that the above are not real love, although they may be mistaken for love. The problem, of course, is that we never seem to have enough of this type of love. We always end up wanting more, and we end up fearful of getting less. Don’t get me wrong; these things are not bad in and of themselves. I’m just saying that they mustn’t be mistaken for love.
Now I’m going to say something that may surprise you. The vast majority of human relationships are also an imitation of true love! Yes, you heard right. Many people think that marriage, for example, is true love, but the fact is that most people end up getting married for reasons of neediness, not love. They marry someone who will play their game, be a participant in their drama, work out some karmic issue with them, make them feel important, enable them, babysit them, support them financially, or do things for them that they don’t like or want to do for themselves. Some people marry for social reasons. Some men marry a “trophy wife” to prove to others that they can attract a young, beautiful woman. Some women marry a “trophy husband” who can escort them to social functions or at least provide a nice house and a credit card when they want to do some shopping.
Some people marry for “security” without really thinking about how little security marriage actually offers. No matter how we state our wedding vows, the fact is that there are no guarantees in marriage, and even the most wonderful and fulfilling of marriages can eventually come to an end for one reason or another. Marriage is not the solution to all problems; rather, it’s merely a framework within which we continue to solve our problems. Sometimes marriage actually brings us more problems than we had before; certainly we have different problems in marriage than we do in single life.
The song title, “What I Did for Love” brings to mind a lot of things most of us have done at least once in our lives, just to get a little love. We have smiled when we didn’t really feel like it and said, “I love you” or “Everything’s going to be OK,” when we didn’t really mean it. Some of us have had sex with someone because we were afraid they would leave us otherwise. We have dressed, talked, acted, and spent money like someone else, thinking that a certain someone would be attracted to us. We have done things that are immoral, illegal, or just plain unacceptable in order to belong to a group or gain approval of a special someone. Many of us have smoked, eaten, or drunk too much alcohol in our quest for love, and some of us have acquired addictions to drugs or gambling for the same reason. Some of us try to keep loneliness at bay by becoming “married” to our jobs or careers, or by becoming especially active in politics, religious organizations, or social reform movements.
Many people hang onto relationships that are no longer serving us – even relationships that are destructive or endangering our lives – because we are afraid of being alone and unloved. That goes for friendships and business associations as well as romantic relationships.
Even our other family relationships – to our parents, children, siblings, or extended family members – are not necessarily true love. Some of us may be shocked to learn that what we are really expressing with these relationships is conditional love. We set all kinds of conditions on our love and approval. I’ll love you if you take care of me, if you do what I tell you, if you give me what I want, if you behave, if you don’t inconvenience me, if you don’t lie to me, if you don’t embarrass me, if you don’t betray my trust.
So where’s the love? What is true love?
Only the Creator’s love is true and real, unconditional, and never-ending. No, God is not going to prefer you over anyone else. You may get a human being to do that, but not God. In fact, all our human relationships of every type are really only reflections of God’s love. Some of them are slightly better reflections than others. For example, a marriage in which the two partners are lifting each other up, solving problems together, and augmenting each other’s spiritual growth is a very good reflection of God’s love – but it’s only a reflection! That’s the important thing to remember. Relationships in which partners enable one another or use each other for security or social standing are, by contrast, very dim reflections of Divine Love.
There’s nothing wrong with reflections. That’s not what I’m saying here. Human relationships are important, no doubt about it. In fact, they are like a trial run for the real thing. It has been said that your human relationships, especially your romantic or marital relationship, is a reflection of how much of God’s love you are prepared to accept.
When it comes to God’s love, that’s all we can do: accept it. It is showered on us, no matter what we do, but we have one element of control, and that is how much of God’s love we wish to accept. God’s love is never forced on is. We can access it, take advantage of it, and utilize it, if we wish to. It’s not always an easy thing to do, because when we step into the Light of God’s love, that light illuminates us completely, including all our imperfections. In fact, the only way that we can heal our apparent imperfections is by looking at them in the Light of God. But if we accept the challenge that God’s love offers us, we can also accept the security of knowing that, like God, we as Soul are immortal and indestructible. As Soul we are powerful beyond what we can comprehend at the present time. In fact, our so-called imperfections are really an illusion by which we learn to express parts of ourselves that need to be expressed. As we interact with others in the physical world, we open up opportunities for ourselves and others to manifest our best and most positive qualities.
Christina Burbeck expressed it this way: “When we know God’s enormous and unwavering love for us, then we are free to love others without it having to be perfect. We are free to receive their love however they give it.” In other words, God’s love is the real deal, but when we accept it, all of our human relationships become clearer, more accurate reflections of Divine Love from the Source of All. 🙂