Why? Because we fear change and value security. And surely there is little in life that can bring about change the way love does. Also, if we have a lack of love in our life, we have come to depend on that lack whether we realize it or not. For a lack of something generally provides us with a need for it. And a need for love gives us something to pursue. It provides a sense of adventure for us. Without the need there would not be that deep yearning inside us. For some of us, yearning is what gives us hope.
We fear love, and yet we want it. Some of us even want it more because it can be dangerous. Yet the danger both attracts and repels us. Like a film that we are riveted to even though we want to turn away, love both beckons and threatens us. And even when it beckons and seems to promise fulfillment, part of us rebels. We don’t want anything too “serious.” Sure, we want something “meaningful” — but in the future, not now. We want kids, but we don’t want them yet. Marriage is an option, but not if it means giving up any of our freedom.
Where we err is in imagining that love is exactly as we perceive it to be. Where there is fear, there is no love. So, in being afraid of love, we have provided the perfect fortress to keep it out of our lives. And if we fall in love while fearing it, our fear will prevent us from wanting to sustain that love. Perhaps, we can do better. Maybe this person isn’t all he or she seems to be. Or maybe he or she is so attractive or appealing that he or she will leave us for someone else.
Just as we fear failure and oftentimes thwart or avoid the possibility of success, we fear failing at love and use this to justify closing it out of our lives. But how can you fear something you don’t have? How can you fear a love that is unknown?
You fear what you perceive love to be — not what it actually is. And you fear what you perceive to be both sides of it. You’re afraid of the pain and misery that follows rejection, abandonment, and betrayal. Yet you also fear the contentment and happiness that may give temporary bliss but, more often than not, ends in loneliness, emptiness, or indifference masquerading as obligation.
Of course those of us who fear love rarely admit we’re afraid of it. We simply avoid it. We imagine through fear that we can escape a basic human need. But we don’t have rational reasons for avoiding it. Our reasons are based on warped perceptions — perceptions that will destroy the very thing we want even though we fear it.
Many of us see ourselves as courageous. And many of us have great physical courage. But for love, it isn’t physical courage that’s needed — it’s emotional courage. Yet emotional courage will elude us if we are afraid of anything, including love. We imagine that vulnerability is weakness, and in the words of C. S. Lewis, “to love is to be vulnerable.” But vulnerability is not weakness. Rather, it is strength. For it requires much less of us to avoid the possibility of love than to open ourselves up to it.
This essay and all written material at My Odyssey is written by Sascha Norris. (C) Copyright 2012 by Sascha Norris. All Rights Reserved.