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Are You Really Ready for Love? Developing the Capacity

  • Dr. David B. Hawkins The Relationship Doctor
  • Updated May 14, 2008
Are You Really Ready for Love?  Developing the Capacity

Adam was apparently still grousing around in the garden after he had been given the gift of all gifts – woman.

In an effort to cheer Adam up, God told him He would grant one wish, but only one.

Pausing for the slightest moment, Adam decided some time on the beach might help his disposition and asked God for a bridge from San Francisco to the Hawaiian Islands.

God quickly responded that this was an engineering impossibility. But, He would grant him a second request.

Well, Adam said thoughtfully, then please tell me how to reason with a woman.

God quickly replied. One lane or two.

There are endless stories and jokes about love and relationships. Why? Because we were created not to be alone, to be helpmates for one another – and because we are fallen creatures, who seem to have endless relational problems!

Man, and woman, were not meant to be alone. There is something wired into us by our Creator that says, “I want to share my life with someone. I want intimacy.” And, God said that it was good for us to not be alone.

It seems we are always ready to fall in love. We get out of one relationship and vow to take it easy, to get to know ourselves, and within three weeks – or is it three minutes? – we are ready for another relationship. Even if we have the willpower, or fear, to stay out of a relationship, we are thinking about a relationship. We notice people who are married, or in relationship, and cannot help but wonder what is going on with us that we haven’t landed the perfect relationship yet.

Love often preoccupies us, dilutes our thoughts, captures our time. Passionate love makes us something other than ourselves. We act differently, embarrass ourselves, and cover our comments with transparent avoidances. Beneath it all, we wonder if anyone will ever really love us. We seemingly have an insatiable urge to merge.

I recall my time of singleness after my divorce. I was sure I was ready for love. In all actuality, I was a VNWM seeking VNWF. (Very Needy White Male seeking Very Needy White Female.) Perhaps you have been there and know what I’m talking about. I thought I was ready for love, when in reality I didn’t want to be alone – and desperately wanted someone to make me feel loved.

Are you really ready for love?  I will help you answer that question in this article series. Saying you’re ready, thinking you’re ready, and actually being ready, are often very different things.

Consider the first of eight traits needed to actually be ready for love, and see how you fare. (See Howard Halpern’s book, Finally Getting It Right.)

The capacity to be romantically in love. What is this thing called romantic love? Scott Peck, from his book The Road Less Traveled, calls it a desire to extend oneself for the welfare of another. The Apostle Paul says love is not selfish, is not envious, does not boast. Real love is not self-seeking (I Corinthians 13).

Romantic love is that passionate, spiritual-emotional-sexual attachment between two people that reflects a high regard for the value of each other. If being in love has caused you pain, however – and welcome to the club – you may have concluded that being detached and distant and not caring for another is the safest place to be. But, if romantic love can bring out the worst in us – those irrational, needy and childlike traits we thought we had left behind long ago – it can also bring out the best in us. Consider what Ethel Person has said about love:

“Romantic love, subjectively experienced, is an emotion of an extraordinary intensity. The experience of love can make time stop, therefore giving one the rare opportunity to live in the present.  Love may confer a sense of inner rightness, peace and richness, or it may be a mode of … enlarging and changing the self.”

Someone else has said that you fall in love and then you grow up and live happily ever after. A healthy, loving relationship has the capacity to enhance us into better people.

But, be aware. There is a faux love going around – attachment hunger. Or, what I like to call, the serge leading to the urge to merge. In these cases, loving feelings take on an urgency and desperation and therefore, instead of leading to “enlarging and changing the self,” lead to distortion and narrowing of the self. This difference – that a loving passion enlarges us while an addiction inevitably diminishes us – is a crucial distinction.

And so, we each must examine ourselves to be sure we are ready to love – we must let go of infantile attachment that narrows and expects too much – to adult mature attachment that enlarges us, and the other. We must be ready to risk having our hearts broken again for love.

Which is it for you? Are you enlarged or restricted in your relationship? Do you seek ways to connect rather than hide? Are you ready to really extend your self for another person? If you are ready to give up your need to be right about which way the toilet paper comes off the roll, you may be ready for love. If you can let go of the need to win those inevitable battles of will about inconsequential matters, you may be ready for love. 

David Hawkins, Pd.D., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. 

He is the author of over 18 books, including
Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage, Saying It So He'll Listen, and When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His book, When the Man in Your Life Can’t Commit, released in February 2006. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.