The Cause & Solution to All Love's Problems

The good thing about meditating is realizing how much of a psycho you are, in general. Generally, we are very good at shielding that psycho from the rest of the world, but the people who truly see you for the psycho you are all the people you’ve dated, and your Mother.

I had a chat with Denise (my Mother) some time ago. I tenderly patted her arm at the dinner table and said prolifically, “I think I’m ready to change my ways.” Always ready with a razor sharp retort, she stated with a cackle, “It’s too late, all the good ones are gone and all that’s left are the trashy weirdos”. To have the last word, I instantly replied, “Well, did you ever stop to think that I might be one of those trashy weirdos?!”, to which we both shared a hearty laugh before I resumed staring existentially into a plate of jerk chicken (a solid consolation prize if there ever was one).

By this age I have racked up an entire baseball team, coach and General Manager of flash in a pan romances. I’m calling them the Sting Rays because they are uniformly majestic and also could ruthlessly kill Steve Irwin. It’s a pretty good co-ed team, but much like actual co-ed teams, they’ve just been drinking buddies or for fun and rarely ever taken too seriously. And while it has been really fun most time (and much less fun at others), I’ve never considered the ways that I’ve been thinking and acting all this time that have been signalling me like an airport traffic controller into the same kinds of dramatic, volatile, insecure (but fun?) relationships.

The feeling of ‘falling in love’ is something I’ve felt several times – enough times that after the last Sting Ray recruit I really became suspicious of that feeling. Love is supposedly rare, but if it’s so rare, how could I be feeling it so many times without the longevity that follows in a meaningful relationship? And if love is supposed to be reliable and constant, then why does it always feel like insecurity, and striving, and exhaustion? Why does ‘love’ feel like the best night ever immediately followed by the hangover from hell? 

The feeling of what I’ll call 'fake-love' acts sort of like a drug. It’s an upper – literally ecstasy. If you’ve never done ecstasy, don’t bother just go and get hooked on someone that doesn't seem too interested in you but says that they are. Same feeling except it takes longer to come down and you still have your electrolytes intact. Scenarios like vacation romances, long-distance romances, and chasing people you know deep down are not going to change (ex. leave their partner or redefine their sexuality for you) hit hard once reality sets in. People blame themselves and feel so much shame for not being able to make things work. I especially have ‘the guilt’ that I constantly have to show compassion to myself for because I haven’t been truly present in previous relationships until fairly recently. I didn’t know in all the ways I was setting myself up for a struggle with unavailable and distant contenders. You can’t fix something you can’t see, and it's not your fault for how you learned how to love. It is only your fault when you can see it and continue to let it happen.

This is something we all do – we replay all the psycho dynamics from our youth in every relationship. But we don’t realize that we’re doing it, and we don’t realize that how we act and (importantly) react to people is getting in the way of what’s best for us. What is best for us? It's different for every person, but if we can find some inner space, what’s best for our careers, friendships and relationships alike (because all these parts of life are connected) starts to unfold and turns out to be something different than everything that came before if not virtually unrecognizable to us now.

For me, I'm learning that what's best for me has always been everything my Ma has ever wanted for me – to just sit still for a few moments and confidently without rushing into anything choose the option that is equal parts exciting, reliable, and (get this) just nice. An important part of anyone’s life is learning to to stop seeking authority from one's parents. Maybe one or both of them was hard on you and that's led you to (a) find it hard to get close to people, or (b) confused you into mistaking the rush of insecurity and/or validation you get from your partner for love. Maybe you repeat patterns of seeking approval from your partners the same way you used to seek approval from your parent(s). One way or another, the way you learned to love started at home and snowballed to present day. Your Mom may be the foundation of all your fucked up love dramas, but she may also be your way out.

If your Mom is like my Mom, she is your biggest (borderline obsessed) fan. Despite how frustrating and/or annoying and/or critical she is (like honestly dude, no one else notices or cares if I am or am not wearing lipstick when I leave the house) she is arguably the only person who has a vested interest in seeing you thrive in every way, and the only person that would ferociously tear apart anyone that hurt you. You don’t have to believe everything your Mother says, especially if she once used to dress you in hideous frilled dresses reminiscent of most modern day cults (unforgivable), but there is a reason you always go home and need your Mommy after a heartbreak. So, in conclusion, internalize the voice of your Mom that talks you up when you’re down and lists all the reasons why you are just the best human being in the world and reasons 1, 2, and 3 why you deserve X, Y, and Z. Objectively listen to your Mom when she says something is off about Jack or Jill. Step into awareness and rewrite your patterns into something unprecedented. And, finally, go get em, tiger.

Arianne Tong1 Comment