IS There A Difference Between Passion And Love? 

Photo by Kashawn Hernandez

When we speak about Love, many of us treat Passion as entirely separate from it. We often hear about dates ‘falling into lust’ at the beginning of a relationship when the two people are so into each other. They’re so attracted and mesmerised by one another, they want to spend as much time together as they can and to make love as often as possible. The feelings at such times seem deep, exciting and endless.

On the other hand, there are many couples, especially in long term relationships, who have lost their ‘chemistry’, and their Passion for each other. They do things mechanically and without motivation as part of their settled routine. Many have not even had sex for years or affirmed each other in any way.

These love extremes have led some people to believe that any intense passionate feelings when two people have just met cannot be relied upon as a good barometer of lasting Love. That because it is tied to ‘lust’, the ‘real Love’ comes much later on, or not at all. We also talk of having a ‘passion’ for something: an interest, hobby or activity that gives us great joy. Thus we can usually tell how meaningful something is to us by how we feel about it; the way it moves us to want to express our feelings for it and be devoted to it to greater levels.

That’s what Passion is, in a nutshell: the intensity of feeling we have for someone or something. Passion is not something in its own right, like Love. It has to be associated with something else to have any value. It gains its existence by demonstrating how much we actually care about something that’s important to us. Thus the degree of Passion is the giveaway sign.

Photo by Tyler Nix

Passion, when applied to a relationships, is like a marker, a ruler or yardstick, but it is not Love itself. Passion is essentially the intensity of the Love we feel. If we have rapidly lost our passion for someone it’s not because we didn’t love them in the first place, or we only felt lust for them. It is more likely because, over time, as the person has revealed him/herself, our Passion has gradually decreased in its level, or increased, and we are feeling differently about them. So lust isn’t really separate from Love. Both are the same at the beginning because both can take off or fall flat, depending on the level of passion we feel for the object of our affection.

It seems that Love reveals its true self, and has a chance to blossom, when passion subsides, but not too much. If we use a numerical scale for assigning levels of passion, say 7, with seven being the greatest level and one being the lowest, lovers who have recently met and are passionate about each other (the ‘lust’ phase), would be rating a 6 or 7 in their feelings. As the couple settle together, passion will steady itself to a 5 or 6, depending on how much the couple continue to affirm, nurture and validate each other. Those who have started to take each other for granted, but are still in love because the passion is strong (chemistry) will have a steady rate of 4 or 5. But it seems that, for Love to continue with the couple indefinitely, the level cannot fall below 4. Level 3 in passion becomes highly problematic and levels 1 and 2 mean the relationship is dead or on its way out – becoming unsustainable.

In essence, Love cannot exist without some kind of passion because passion is the driving force behind it. Passion allows people to come alive to one another. It gives a kind of adrenalin rush, regularly, but not constantly. It is fired up by interaction of one kind or another. When that does not happen, feelings subside, too, and inevitably change to something else more detached or negative.

If you are trying to work out how you really feel about someone just now, especially whether you love them or not and should marry or settle together, but you can’t feel much passion, or you don’t feel rejuvenated, excited or getting that butterfly feeling, please don’t go there! Your Passion is at too low a level to start something with a long term commitment. Yes, your feelings of Love might increase, but then the person would feel more like a dear relative to you than a lover, simply because passion is the fire that lights your Love. When that fire goes out, so does the Love, eventually, to be replaced by something indifferent, negative or even repellent!



Why Do Break-Ups Hurt Some People So Much?

Photo by Fadi Xd

Once when I was dating and had a break-up I wrote about it on a dating site and got an interesting email from a guy wanting to know how I can seem so confident and cool in the face of it. As he said, if he “had been with someone for four months, and then had to walk away” he would be “devastated”. I thought I would expand on my response and share it publicly, because it is a very important question, in view of all the recurrent heartbreaks. 

This was part of my response:

“I wouldn’t be devastated, because the main reason people get hurt, especially after short relationships, is because they don’t love themselves enough. They expect the other person to love them instead, and end up putting that person above themselves. Sadly, when the person walks away they are even more hurt, because, having no internal source of love, the only source would have left them alone, confirming the low unworthy feelings they already have about themselves.”

I am human, too, and do feel naturally upset after any break-up. However, it doesn’t last for long. As I tend to be very expressive, I am also very trusting. I fall deeply and I love equally passionately, which make me even more vulnerable to being hurt. Yet break-ups hardly affect me emotionally, no matter how much I love the person. It got me thinking why I don’t suffer the usual angst of people who are really hurt by it, and I gradually worked it out.

What most people probably don’t realise is that every relationship has three crucial elements at the heart of it:

1. Self Love

2. The capacity to love another

3. The desire to be loved

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Most people go into relationships armed with just the desire to be loved. That’s the easy bit. But what is even more important is to have the other two elements, which are often missing. In fact, the most important aspect of a relationship is SELF-LOVE (which acts as a protective barrier to pain). But loving the self unconditionally, without expecting perfection, is not an easy thing to do after a history of not being valued or affirmed by the people who matter in our lives, like parents and past lovers. 

Yet self-love is like having money or riches. If we have no love for ourselves, we cannot give away any either. That date will never be able to do enough for us simply because we will always feel inadequate. The irony is that a love of the self frees us to be more loving and understanding towards another. For example, though I did miss him very much – because we had grown pretty close very quickly, my self love made me smile and remember our awesome moments together, whenever he comes to mind, rather than any anger, recrimination or blame; to also give thanks for what we shared rather than what we might have lost.

Sadly, most relationships consist of two people without any self-love or capacity to love. In effect, there are two TAKERS instead of givers in the relationship, wanting to be loved, and looking after their own corner, while being unable to truly love themselves or each other. It means when the relationship breaks down it would be doubly painful for one person because he/she would have been emotionally dependent on the one who took that love away. That partner would have been living in constant fear of the relationship not working, and would then be pretty shaken when it does break and the love stops.

Loving the self reminds us that we matter the most in any relationship. We are the cake, the other person is the icing, and icing is never mandatory. Icing might go beautifully well with a cake but it is a CHOICE, just like having a date is a choice. It means that once the icing goes, we would have enjoyed it, enhanced that icing with our presence, but, in the end, we stand independently of it, because we are all on our individual journey of life. With that knowledge, we can appreciate ourselves more, and will also have more to GIVE a partner than merely expecting them to give us what we seek. We can take them or leave them, as they are, and, best of all, if they should leave us, our self-love will keep us intact – more aware, confident, positive, much wiser – and better prepared for the next encounter.


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Have You Ever Avoided Meeting Others For Fear Of Rejection?

Photo by Danie Franco

A reader asked this recently, and my answer was short, and unequivocal: No, I haven’t, because we only fear rejection for the following reasons:

  1. When we put others above us so that whatever they do determines our reaction, and how we live our lives.
  2. When we see people as clones of each other, instead of individuals. If one person doesn’t like us we then attribute that behaviour to everyone else and believe that no one else is ever going to like us again!
  3. When we are low in self-esteem and confidence, believing that we are not worthy, not as good as anyone else, and not capable of being loved once we are rejected.
  4. When we do not love ourselves and expect other people to love us instead to compensate for the self-love we lack. Naturally, when they reject us we feel even worse because it confirms why we are not worthy of being loved.
  5. When we believe there is only one person who’ll be our ‘true love’, so when they reject us, we believe we are finished, and no one else will want us.

Falling in and out of love is a natural part of life. However, just as we can easily fall in love, we can fall out, too, but many people want the good bit without the bad part, which is not possible because that’s how Nature gives us balance. Furthermore, every experience in life, whether good or bad, teaches us something useful and prepares us to handle the next stage of our lives. If you live in fear of rejection, instead of letting life take its course, you might never be rejected, but you would never experience the joy of love either, because love and happiness ALWAYS come before hurt and rejection. When you live in fear of anything instead of taking life in your stride, fear is all you have because you are not focusing on something positive, but on negative things that only destroy your happiness. They don’t build anything.

Accept rejection as a natural part of your existence simply because each of us is entitled to our likes and dislikes, you included. Enjoy the moment and give thanks for it. If you meet someone who rejects you, accept it, and move on to someone better, because that one person does not represent everyone on earth who may like you, too. It doesn’t mean the there is anything wrong with you. It simply means they do not feel you are compatible together. Moreover, that rejection could be the best thing that ever happened to you, because you never know what you could have been saved from in the longer term with them!


Do You Believe in Love at First Sight?

Image by autumnsgoddess0 

Yes, it certainly has worked for me. 

I set eyes on my ex husband at an event and knew that the attraction was mutual immediately I saw him with his friend and spoke to him. We lasted 25 years and were still in love by the finish, except that we had diverged so much in our values and expectations, we could not sustain the relationship on love alone because too much resentment and anger had crept in.

On another occasion, I knew I had fallen in love instantly with someone when our eyes met across a room, seeing him for the first time. It was amazing because it was so unexpected with him not being the type I would have expected to even be friendly with. That was before my marriage but circumstances just weren’t right at the time to follow through. Thirty years later he proposed, but I was a different person by then and wanted something new with my life.

Falling in love is really down to our beliefs. If we believe that anyone can engage us in an instant, because we are expressive enough to allow it to happen, it will always happen for us. If we are the cynical type who question every potential relationship and are worried about its outcome, it won’t get a chance to flourish because we will kill it with our negative expectations.

People who don’t believe in falling in love at first sight are seldom likely to experience it for that very reason: they cannot have something positive materialising out of their negative beliefs, and fear of its consequences will keep such an experience from happening. Even if it got up and smacked them in the face, they are likely to attribute it to something else.

Yet love at first sight is magical when it works because, with its element of surprise, it carries with it the potential for something truly exciting and enjoyable.

So, do YOU believe in love at first sight?

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Problem Point: How Do I Deal With Unwanted Attention? 

Photo by Metin Ozer

Question: This guy at school has a huge crush on me. He catches up with me in the hallways and keeps talking to me. He also pretends he needs the homework so he could find an excuse to sit near me at lunch. What’s most annoying is that he gets mad if I talk to other guys and keeps instant messaging me. I don’t know how to tell him to leave me alone without hurting his feelings. What should I do?

A. You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs so you have to accept that you ARE going to hurt his feelings whatever you do, unless you accept his attentions. Nobody likes rejection of any sort and he will be no different. So decide what matters to you most: not hurting him, or getting him off your back, because it will affect what you say, and you can’t have both. You are not responsible for him getting mad. he is solely responsible for his reactions. Moreover, if he was mature enough for a relationship, he would be respecting your wishes, taking things more in his stride, and not getting upset about your friends.

If you really want him to stop, then you have to also acknowledge that you have a RIGHT to him not pestering you. So, one day when he comes next to you at lunch, or at a convenient place, say something like this, in your own words:

“I’m flattered that you like me because you are a cool guy. But, just now, I am not really keen on a friendship and would prefer if you give that attention to someone else, because it is rather wasted on me. Right now I need my space to do my own thing but I’m sure someone else would value your company. I hope you accept that as I’m not enjoying your attention.” 

Make NO apologies for your action.

Then listen to what he has to say because being attracted to someone is not negative, or a crime, unless they are stalking you. However, continue to stick, politely but firmly, to your decision. Don’t be persuaded. If he still tries to home in on you after that, just completely avoid him when you see him, or remind him of what you said. If that does not work either, then time to seek help from someone in authority. Hopefully, your first frank comment should do the trick. 

I hope this is of some help.

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Problem Point: What Is Love, And How Do You Know When You’re ‘In Love’?

Image by congerdesign

Question. Being only 16 years old, I just wanted to know what is love is. If I felt I was in love with someone, I would have to know what love is in order to be certain, and truthfully, I have no idea what it is.

A. Being a romantic ideal, Love can mean all kinds of things to different people. But on the most basic level, Love is simply the care, value and appreciation for another. That person becomes precious to us for whatever reason we feel – like the love for our family and relatives, those who are significant to us; the platonic love for our friends and those whose company we enjoy, and the intimate love we share with our dates and partners.  Thus Love appears on various levels, but the one that seems to occupy most people is the intimate romantic, emotional or sexual love.

Romantic love can be difficult to explain, or even be defined, because people have their own individual reactions to it. However, falling in love appears to be triggered by four major factors: attraction (physical, emotional and intellectual), a feeling of comfort (which encourages security, trust and happiness), a feeling of value (that the person respects and cares for you; that you really matter to them) and a feeling of excitement (that triggers the sexual and affection part of a relationship). It follows that if any of those aspects are missing there really isn’t any ‘love’ per se, it would mainly be just a crush or infatuation – a phase that would soon pass. 

For example, if you meet someone and there is no feeling of value (perhaps because he/she is mean in appreciating you, or they even abuse you) there is no love there at all. Or if you do not feel completely comfortable and happy in their presence, that’s not love either. If you cannot communicate together, or feel any emotional bond, it is really difficult to love in those situations. Furthermore, if you really don’t feel any excitement when you think of that person or share their company, it’s likely that you would be just platonic friends, not lovers, because the sexual attraction would be missing.

Someone also has to love her/himself first before they can love another. That takes maturity and understanding which a younger person usually doesn’t have. That is why relationships among teenagers rarely last a long time.

Photo by Elias Maurer

How do you Know you’re ‘in Love’?

Love is always determined by feelings and emotions, and early attachment. The feeling of love might be difficult to describe but it is an overwhelming one. You think about the person a lot, you want to be with them as often as possible, you tend to think only pleasant things about them, you feel both passion and fulfilment when you are in their presence and you feel joyful most of the time. You just want to smile when you are in their presence or when you think of them. That’s how love makes us feel, totally light headed and very happy. If you don’t feel happy when you think of that person, you are not in love with them. You might love them like a relative etc., without much passion, but being in love is a different happy feeling.

Love is also totally unconditional. It does not need to be proved in any shape or form, nor does it need to be validated by anything else. True love stands on its own, always. We either feel it or we don’t. We might do little things to express it openly, but they are not necessary. They are just forms of expression that demonstrate how we feel. For example, when we love our children, they do not have to be good to get that love, neither do we have to prove it to them that we love them. That love simply stands on its own. It just is. In a nutshell, when we truly love, we really value the presence of that person and they become very significant to our lives.

People who desire proof of love tend to be very insecure in themselves for whatever reasons. Love is probably something they don’t quite understand or appreciate, which perhaps make them feel uncomfortable. Depending on their upbringing, they probably know how to care for someone and value him/her as a partner, but to actually ‘love’ them, in the actual sense of the word, might be another matter. That person might not have been loved in a demonstrative way before and does not know how to deal with it, or she/he might doubt their own love for their partner, and thus put their guilt on to them. 

One way of dealing with such insecurity is this: when someone asks you to ‘prove’ your love to them, ask him/her if he really loves you. If they say ‘yes’, ask them how they prove it to you? What does love mean for them? You could both be interpreting ‘love’ differently. The responses should give you a measure of how they see love and what they expect from someone who loves them. People are obviously, different so perhaps you have to learn about each other, and how you both perceive love, before you can fully understand and appreciate one other.


Today’s Thought: Frustrating Languages of Love!

In a relationship, we are inclined to believe that we have the same mutual way of expressing ourselves so that we can be easily understood. But language is determined by intention, and our personality, sex, culture, race, beliefs, etc. They all determine what we say. It means that no matter how simple words might sound, we can never take what someone else says at face value without clarification because our expectations of the reaction to those words could be entirely different!


Premium: How Do I Handle Rejection When it Feels So Bad?

Image by Ulrike Leone

Q. Lately I’ve been having depressing thoughts caused by me and my girlfriend splitting up (she dumped me!). We had such a good thing and I just can’t seem to pull myself out of my gloomy state. She’s now got someone else and it drives me insane with jealousy, it really hurts. Another thing that hurts is I’ve been dumped twice this year now. This has destroyed my confidence as both girls went on about how ‘nice’ I am, but still dumped me. 

A. I am sorry to hear how you feel because life is such a precious thing which we have to try to enjoy every single day. It is all we have, not a rehearsal for another life, and you do sound miserable. But you are not alone in your feelings. Many people find it difficult to deal with rejection. They think so low of ourselves, they put their whole life in the hands of one person to get ‘happiness’, and when that is withdrawn, the pain of losing it is too much to bear. However, let’s start with some brutal truths, as I cannot help you with pretence. 

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Today’s Thought: Being Generous With Love

We seem to find it much easier to be cold, detached, unkind and even cruel to others than it is to be kind and loving to them. We even get embarrassed when people show us love, or pay us a compliment as though that is not something positive and enjoyable. Often we spend a long time in regret wishing we had said something loving to someone we cherished.

Yet love has the power to do so many things for us, especially to make us feel joyful, valued and life more meaningful. In fact, we can achieve far more in one day with just a little kindness and appreciation than we can in a long time with any other means.

Make someone’s day by sending some love their way!

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What Happens When We Love Someone More Than They Love Us?

Image by Michaela

Everyone has the right to love whomever, and at whatever time, in their life. But love doesn’t start with someone else. It starts inside of us, loving ourselves. If you love someone ‘to the extreme’, you are actually wanting their love to compensate for the lack of love you feel for yourself, and they would find it off-putting. They would actually feel burdened by such emotional responsibility.

When we truly love and appreciate who we are, we do not love anyone else more than we love ourselves. We meet them half way. By loving someone too much, it carries the message that their love is more important than yours, and you have to hang on to it at all costs. Furthermore, the less you love yourself and love someone too much, the less attractive and appealing you will be, because that person will eventually feel claustrophobic with your constant attentions.

It also carries the risk that when that person stops loving you, your world will fall apart, because you have depended on them so much for their presence and affection, it will be difficult to let go. You would have done nothing to provide a strong emotional base for yourself, should the relationship fail, which would make any breakdown unbearable and the hurt indescribable.

Everything in life that is most enjoyable and affirming is done in moderation. The best way to love and be loved is to begin by learning to love, appreciate and to value yourself. You would then be strong and confident enough to leave or take someone else’s attention. Their love would enhance yours, not be a substitute for it. You won’t need their approval or love to feel great because you are already great without them. Most important, you will also be able to reinforce yourself when things don’t work out.

If someone doesn’t love you or want you, they are giving you a powerful message of choice and you should respect that. To still want to ‘love’ that person is to imply that you are not good enough for anyone else, or you won’t be able to find someone else. Yet you only belittle yourself in the process because you will continually feel inadequate and unhappy. You also stop yourself from meeting others by hanging back in the past feeling rejected, which makes you even less appealing.

Love is something we have to give every moment of the day, every day of our lives. It is not restricted to one person or situation. However, it starts within us through self-love, confidence and self-value. Once we have that fully developed, our capacity to love others is abundant, while at the same time keeping our distance from being too possessive or clingy. In fact, we will then have the assurance to pick and choose our mates and to readily say, ‘NEXT!’ when it doesn’t work out as expected.

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Today’s Thought: Finding a New Relationship

So often we seek a new relationship beieving that once we find that ideal person, everything will be perfect and we’ll be very happy. However, any relationship starts with how we connect with ourselves, not with any other person. If we are uncomfortabe with our person, not happy with our mirror-image, and dislike ourselves, we will find it problematic connecting with others too.

Today’s Thought: Trying to Find the Perfect Match?

We spend a lot of time subconsciously seeking that ‘perfect’ ideal in a partner without realising just how much anxiety and energy we expend on it. Of course, we will have types of people we prefer, but the more limited the parameters, the narrower the choice and the more difficult these people are to discover. We also tend to forget that we, too, are far from perfect to the other party, and so any perfect match will be a pipe dream.

For example, if we are only interested in blondes, we immediately rule out women of all other hair colours who may carry the same characteristics as blondes, yet who might need nothing more than a colouring shampoo to complete the picture!

Sadly, our search for the perfect mate makes, perhaps, 99% of people we meet unsuitable, as we gradually convince ourselves of their negatives while the positives seldom get the chance to affect us. It seems that so long as people fear being hurt, seek perfect partners and lack the confidence to interact with one another, there will be a growing numbet who are likely to remain single.

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