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  • Writer's pictureGillian McArthur

The risky business of love...

Updated: Jan 19, 2018

To Love is to risk #rejection, to live is to risk dying and to hope is to risk failure. But risk must be taken because the greatest mistake in life is to risk nothing at all. To reach for someone is to risk being involved, to expose your feelings is to expose your true self. To love is to risk not being loved in return.

Take a minute or two to think about your own history of #love, #heartbreak, #relationships. Maybe you had your heart broken once, maybe more times than you care to remember or maybe you have never allowed your self to love fully in order to protect yourself from getting hurt. Or perhaps you are fortunate to have loved and lost but been able to move on with complete acceptance without a battle wound in sight! Which ever it may be, we can easily become conditioned to never allowing anyone near our heart for our own self- preservation. It's hard to let someone in when you've got those chains wrapped firmly around your heart; but here's the thing.. in closing our heart to the risk of #heartbreak we may create a living hell for ourselves. The truth is that whilst heartbreak is extremely painful, it is not nearly as painful as the emptiness we create for ourselves when we hold back from loving out of fear of getting hurt.

Why it might be worth the gamble...

Novelist and Poet, C.S. Lewis had an awful lot to say about love and risks in one of his books The Four Loves which explores the nature of love from a Philosophical and Christian perspective:

'to love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell'.

All sounds pretty grim hey? but he does make a pretty good point of what the alternative is to not taking a risk on love.

Looking at my work with clients and considering my own personal experiences too we can easily confuse the deep hurt, rejection, chaos and fear we feel when a relationship ends, as a good measurement for the depth of love we felt for that person. We feel like crap so it must be because you loved them so much right? Or could it be fear. Fear of being alone or fear of the enormity of the change that is about to happen to your life.

Love V Fear...

So, let's look at this word LOVE. What is the opposite of love? You may automatically think hate but that would be wrong. The opposite of love is fear. Fear is the fundamental negative emotion. So, if we want love we must conquer fear. We must take personal risks for big potential romantic rewards. Don't bother test driving a relationship for 5 years, or searching for someone so perfectly matched they remind you of a sibling or a parent. Love is supposed to be a little scary because it is uncertain. Love feels like it does because even if we experience a #fulfilling loving relationship and are lucky enough to be with that person for 60 plus years, in the end, one of you gets left behind. THAT is why love feels the way it does.

Taking the risk of allowing yourself to love again takes #courage. Courage means feeling the fear of rejection and loss but pursuing love anyway. That takes us to that funny little saying we are all so familiar with- 'Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all!'

Be #mindful though that the pain of losing one relationship is not transferred to a new relationship. It is wise of course to use our past negative experiences of love as a point of reference but be sure to leave them at the door of a new relationship. When we have been hurt we are supposed to remember how that felt as this helps us to #grow and #evolve as a human being. Feel the fear, take notice, but be sure to remind yourself that this was a past experience and leave it there. If you assume you will have the same experiences in a new relationship you could end up creating a self fulfilling prophecy and it will be over before its barely begun!

'it is a risk to love. What if it doesnt work out? Ah yes, but what if it does!'

Gillian McArthur- Counsellor & Psychotherapist

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