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by David Truman

Fear of love -- what a confused idea. It's like the confusion of those who swear, ever since they went to Las Vegas, that the desert causes water. In fact, the desert yields so little water that they import the stuff to Vegas at a great expense. But when the water flows and the ice tinkles in the tumbler, we forget, sitting by the pool holding this oddity in our hand and growing more carelessly associative by the hour, that none of it belongs here, or that one bit of it could come from elsewhere.
Remember that no suffering comes from love -- it has to be trucked in from the other side of the mountains.
It makes just as little sense to associate something as beautiful as love with awful things like pain and sorrow, hurt and harm. Yet after a few trips to the front lines of intimacy, the love-hurt connection gets wired up in our heads as tight as water in Vegas.
Fear can make us uneasy about love, and if that's all it did, we could live with it; but fear puts us totally out of touch with reality: it makes us forget what loving is, what loving does, and what loving means.
The solution is to restore a true image of love by breaking that false association between love and negative experience.
How pain gets linked to love
Any two items can and will be associated if they happen simultaneously. Pavlov's dog salivated at the sound of a bell because after many experiences, he "learned" that bells cause dog food. As a result of many experiences with selfish and UNloving attitudes and behaviors which happened within the context known as love relationships, we "learn" too. We build an association of pain with love, and that association creates a Pavlovian fear reflex. But the matter of cause and effect is tricky business: one can easily read things wrong.
A Case of Mistaken Diagnosis
A woman fell terribly ill during a period when she happened to consume fresh fruit in abundance. She blamed her illness on the fruit in her diet, even though the fruit was not its cause. As a result of her wrong conclusion, she stopped eating fruit, to her detriment.
If a person forgets that love is purely good, and thinks instead that suffering comes from love, then the resulting fear will certainly ruin love.
Unfortunately, our negative convictions will cause endless repetitions of negative experiences until we figure out what hurt comes from what. If we "learn" from pain that love is unsafe and conclude that we had better act selfishly to protect ourselves from the so-called dangers of love, we raise our defenses -- and increase our offenses, too. The more unloving we become, the worse things get, until we lose our chances for true intimacy. The correct conclusion from painful experiences is not that LOVE is dangerous, but that SELFISHNESS will rip your heart out, and that SELF-CONCERN will compress you into a black cloud.
Like the lure of the devil's triangle, paranoia has a certain appeal to the pysche. But as spiritual beings, we prefer the real safety of love to the real dangers of distance. We never really ARE happy except when we are more concerned about someone other than ourselves. This is our experience! We WERE at our happiest when we were really loving. Remember those fond memories!
Evaluating personal experiences with intimacy
Whenever we catch ourselves fearing love, how do we realign ourselves with the reality of love? Perhaps we could read books on love or listen to inspirational speakers. Such resources can provide a booster shot for the soul. But like booster shots, which work by mobilizing the body's own defenses, love guides can do no better -- and no more -- than put us in touch with our own experience of love.
Since personal experience carries the most convincing power, consider your own experiences -- deeply.
Evaluate sad and bad memories. Think about the painful intimacies you've suffered in the past. Were they love relationships, or not? Since they had some love in them, you called them love relationships. But truth be told, it was not love that attacked those intimacies.
Many are convicted that love hurts, and will show you their battle scars to prove it. But what caused those scars? Was it a gentle caress, perhaps, or a tender look? Or was it the fights, the betrayals, the abuse? No doubt about it: those are scars of UNLOVE, not of love. No use pretending: it was unlove, ego, selfishness, and reactivity that left the scars.
Evaluate fond memories. Fond memories of love remind us what love REALLY feels like and is like. Remember a time when you were free of self-concern, wholeheartedly loving someone, and being loved by them. You could soar like an eagle -- free, safe, blissful, and strong. Love created THOSE beautiful feelings. The way to keep love's good name clear is to remember what caused those experiences. No use pretending.
Take the sour out of sweet and sour love!
Surely love holds nothing worthy of fear. Two emotionally immature people will profess eternal love, and then fight to the death and blame the whole mess on each other, and on love. But this pain is only a result of inconsistency and irresponsibility in the context of love.
Love genuinely, generously, and consistently, to show yourself and others that love is purely good.
Perhaps the hurtful, love-hate style relations of the past were all we could manage in our emotional infancy, but now we are ready for something more truly loving, and more consistently so. Let's take the sour out of the sweet and sour soup -- by taking the unlove out of relationships. Consistency in loving is all we need to clear love's good name.

by David Truman

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