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  • Michaela Patel


Do you think that being attentive equals being LOVING?

Most of us assume so. Some of us build our relationships on this assumption with attentive partners, who however are incapable of true love.

We want to be heard, understood and loved, seeking attention of our partner thinking we are getting it all. We think that our partner loves us unconditionally, seeking nothing in return.

I have been following this common misconception myself. My belief said: ATTENTION = LOVE. I found myself in a string of unhappy relationships, bumping into people who although attentive, their 'giving' had (many) strings attached. Their attention very much depended on how 'good' I was to them. The 'love' I was able to 'extract' through their attention had conditions...

Parental conditioning had much to do with my way of pleasing others, NOT getting what I thought I was in return. Thinking I was being loved, disrespecting myself by moulding me into someone else just to be accepted by my family. And as an extension, this monster of a false belief has wrecked havoc in my intimate relationships.

Having truly grown up, I can see attention for what it is. My false belief was replaced with a new equation: ATTENTION = ATTENTION. Nothing more, nothing less.

Love could be a REASON for being attentive. Admittedly, various people have various reasons for being attentive. Some loving, some not. Those of us who didn't get attention in childhood feel unloveable. In our minds attention of our parents equaled love, hence we find ourselves endlessly seeking attention to fill the empty place in our hearts to soothe our childhood wound...

Small children are very simple as all they are born is the capacity to love unconditionally. Their world is all about their carers - how they treat them and how they attend to their needs. Their NEEDS are pretty simple at the start of their life:

1/ The need to be FED and feel SAFE.

2/ The need to feel LOVED through getting plenty of ATTENTION from the moment they can focus.

3/ As they start to communicate the need to be HEARD and UNDERSTOOD.

If any of these conditions aren't fulfilled, it translates into: 'There must be something wrong with me.' All children worship their carers and tend to idealise them. Because they are not mentally and emotionally capable to deal with seeing them as 'wrong', children rather blame themselves for any shortcomings of their carers feeling 'wrong', 'not good enough', 'bad', hence unloveable.

In early adulthood, they tend to re-create similar conditions in an intimate relationship, in an attempt to heal that has not been given to them by their parents. They learn to PLEASE by be attentive to extract attention from their partner, only to feel loveable.

'Connecting' via INTENSE COMMUNICATION via social media, or direct contact, becomes their addiction. Such relationship is very intense, full on first few months. Both partners totally engulfed, drowning in an illusion of a perfect relationship, idealising each other. They get hooked as their childhood wounds are finally being soothed. They feel wanted, loved. What they don't realise is that the person who feeds their ILLUSION of love through intense attention feels unloveable him/herself. S/he has an unhealthy relationship with her/himself, therefore incapable of true love. Exchanging attention for attention, both feed the illusion of a healthy, mutually loving relationship. The feelings of being 'loved up' with mutual physical attraction support them in thinking that they are physically, mentally and emotionally COMPATIBLE.

They actually are totally compatible with respect to their INSECURITIES. Pleasing one another to get what they are after. Both seeking to be loved through being attended to. The couple's 'love' fluctuates, depending on the amount of attention pooling between them. A very shaky ground as sooner or later one of them 'relaxes', feeling 'loved ENOUGH' not needing to please so intently. Lack of attention doesn't go down well with their partner, who feels unloveable. His/her Inner Child kicks off and drama starts to smear their illusion of a loving relationship with pain.

Attention ISN'T love! Although it can come dressed as 'loving care' with no hidden intentions. The reasons for attention are either SELFISH, or SELFLESS. Selfless attention stems from unconditional love. Wanting attention in exchange for something else comes from an unhealthy place.

True love is only possible when NO intention of getting anything in return is present. Love just IS, and no reason for loving is needed. The same way we love our children without needing anything from them. We love them for just existing, from the moment of conception.

Conditional love comes from insecurity. And so does pain. We hurt others because we are wounded. It is a cycle which goes on for many generations, the cycle of karma.

Put neglect aside. Just because we don't give our children attention it doesn't mean we don't love them. Yet through their eyes it means they are not deserving our love. This is why children must hear how much we love them at every opportunity, particularly at busy times! All those times we cannot be there for them, because we have other priorities (which you may need to re-consider too!), they need to know they are loveable, that there is nothing wrong with them!

Life can be busy, but what is more important than leaving a legacy of emotionally healthy individuals, who feel loved and worthy?

Thank you for reading. If my article contributed to understanding yourself, please be generous and share it with others.

Copyright © 2016 Michaela Patel

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