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What is love? I'm in my 40's and still don't know

(32 Posts)
Dulcibella Mon 15-May-17 09:26:39

I grew up in an abusive house hold and then as an adult I have had two failed marriages both which turned abusive. My second husband is now in prison for what he did to me.

I've realised that I have never had a healthy relationship in my life and because of my upbringing I don't even have that love that your parents are supposed to show you to fall back on.

I think my experiences of 'love' mean I have a very warped view of how someone treats you when they love you and in turn this has affected my own expectations of what I should feel when in love.

So how do I learn to recognise real love? And what should my expectations be of a romantic relationship? I know this is a huge question and there probably isn't one simple answer but I'm just trying to improve my understanding so I can form healthier relationships in my life.

barrygetamoveonplease Mon 15-May-17 09:29:51

I can't tell you, I'm not sure that I know, either.
But...
My principle for living, learned through a heck of a lot of misery, is 'this moment, now'. If it feels right, now, that is all we can know.

You can learn a lot about how you should be treated, by reading threads on MN. Even if sometimes it is 'counsel of perfection', and not everyone would LTB at the first sign of trouble, at least posters remind us all that as human beings we have the right to expect to be treated with respect and consideration.

TheNaze73 Mon 15-May-17 09:32:48

I think that is a massive question & means something different to everyone. I don't think you'll get two people giving exactly the same answer

Dulcibella Mon 15-May-17 09:33:14

Thanks for your reply. With my second husband it did feel right. I adored him. The abuse crept in so slowly that it had got really bad before I even realised what was happening.

noego Mon 15-May-17 09:33:50

True love is unconditional. As soon as conditions are applied it isn't.

Dulcibella Mon 15-May-17 09:34:05

It really is a huge question and probably one nobody can really answer

Dulcibella Mon 15-May-17 09:35:13

But aren't some conditions normal?

JaxingJump Mon 15-May-17 09:36:37

Love is valuing someone as much or more than yourself. Wanting the best for them, even at your own expense. Unconditional love is when you'd still want to hold them and fix things even if they committed murder, that's reserved for your children only. All other love is conditional on the other person treating you with the same value and preciousness you treat them with.

Dulcibella Mon 15-May-17 09:39:09

Thank you jaxing. I totally agree with you that unconditional love is only reserved for our children

springydaffs Mon 15-May-17 09:44:58

Do the Freedom Programme. If you've been in an abusive relationship, indeed two, you really need to do it. I wish everyone would do it tbh..

At the end of each session, you look at the 'good guy' ie the ordinary guy. It's an eye-opener. Seems so obvious - but not to us who have had an abusive model in childhood.

Have you had any therapy? It's been a lifetimes work for me to undo my early conditioning eg therapy, courses, books.

Just bcs he was an abuser doesn't mean you didn't love him - you were the healthy one. So you know what love is.

Dulcibella Mon 15-May-17 09:47:51

I have had CBT to work on my own self esteem and it has helped a lot but I've got a long way to go.

I will have a look at the freedom program. Is that something women's aid do?

Dulcibella Mon 15-May-17 09:49:05

And you're right I do know what it feels like to give love. I never thought of that before but it's very true

noego Mon 15-May-17 09:49:23

I disagree all true love is unconditional for all.
Respect is something different.
Firstly have unconditional love for yourself and that way you have respect for yourself and then your boundaries are stronger and uncompromising.

Dulcibella Mon 15-May-17 09:58:15

The CBT is really helping me to start to love myself. I didn't realise until I started the therapy just how deep my self loathing went.

springydaffs Mon 15-May-17 10:20:42

Women's Aid recommend the FP as a first port of call, tho not sure where the funding comes from.

It's a wonderful course. Gets your head straight in record time, on so many levels. Knowledge is power and all that.

springydaffs Mon 15-May-17 10:22:36

Google the FP, click 'find a course' to find a course near you, go!

While it's valuable to do it online there's something about doing it with others that has the real kick, a real power.

Dulcibella Mon 15-May-17 10:57:52

Thank you. I've just been taking a look at the freedom programme website and I'm definitely going to do it.

hickorydickorynurseryrhyme Mon 15-May-17 11:07:07

The right person will love you for who you are. Will allow you to be yourself.
I'm not particularly religious but there is a verse in the bible Corinthians about love - sums it up quite well I think.

crazyhead Mon 15-May-17 11:22:57

I agree that you clearly have loved, just not been treated properly - the deficiency was in them not you, but you didn't know how to guard against this kind of trouble yet. So it's probably less about love for you that getting a sense of a normal dynamic where the other person is sensible, kind and together. I wish you the very best

LightYears Mon 15-May-17 11:39:24

I totally agree with you that unconditional love is only reserved for our children Yes.
*Firstly have unconditional love for yourself and that way you have respect for yourself and then your boundaries are stronger and uncompromising. Yes.

stumblymonkeyreturns Mon 15-May-17 11:56:06

I don't believe that true love is unconditional...that only applies to parental love for children.

Love should absolutely be conditional between partners, if your love for them is unconditional then it means you'd accept all kinds of treatment.

To me love is:

- They make me happier to be with them than I would be on my own

- They would never purposefully do something that would upset me (cheat, call me names, belittle me, raise a hand to me, etc)

- They respect me and treat me as their absolute equal

- They place a high priority on my welfare, security and happiness. They genuinely want to make me happy and their actions show this.

And all of these should apply both ways.

angelcakerocks Mon 15-May-17 12:30:06

I can totally relate to your post OP. As pp said, you know how to give love. You are not used to receiving it. If you have dcs you will get some idea I think, or a pet even. Start to get used to the idea of receiving love. The more you treat yourself well the better you will expect others to treat you. One book I've found very helpful is called The Human Magnet syndrome (amazon) about basically the nicer/less selfish you are the more you can find you attract the selfish/not so nice people, so in a way you need to be more selfish (I'm massively paraphrasing of course!) good luck flowers

LightYears Mon 15-May-17 12:37:05

the nicer/less selfish you are the more you can find you attract the selfish/not so nice people, That's sad.

noego Mon 15-May-17 12:52:29

Angelcake. Should that be self centred and not selfish?

Stumbly.
"They place a high priority on my welfare, security and happiness. They genuinely want to make me happy and their actions show this."

Isn't your happiness, your responsibility?

If a person loves unconditionally, what you describe comes naturally, doesn't it?

angelcakerocks Mon 15-May-17 12:59:10

Like I said, that's massively paraphrasing. I was meaning a good level of self centred/selfish, as in not being unkind or anything but at least caring about your own needs and not just putting other people first all the time. I think, as was my experience, you can be brought up so conditioned to put others first/ put up with abuse etc that you completely obliterate your own needs and feelings and just get used to thinking about others. Giving love becomes what you think love is, not receiving it at all. It's more about learning to take care of yourself and have healthy boundaries I guess - that it's not selfish to have needs, feelings and expectations and for other people to respect them.

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