I often find myself struggling with the question as to what causes the most paramount emotion-love to die, and resentment to take over. What causes the best feeling in the world to turn into an ugly abyss that consumes one from within?
Our loved ones suddenly become the ‘wrong people” without whom life would be so much better. Maybe the answers lie in the way we approach our relationships. Before we even know it, love gets buried under the enormous heap of expectations.
In the beginning, we are giving attention and love, unconditionally, without asking for anything at all. The reward lies in the act itself. We are happy and perfectly contented. However, as the time progresses, people around us, who wish us all-too-well, start imploring us to push for things that ‘they think’ would make us happy. We are asked questions like, “how could you be happy like this?” “Come on! Expectations are natural. How can you expect nothing in return?” The world tells you how things should be completely oblivious to fact that God has made us in His image and likeness, and blessed us with an enormous capacity to give.
From that point on, we start to recount in our mind all the good things we have done for our loved ones for which it seemed that we were not appreciated. Hence, our minds become caught up in grave injustices that have been done to us. We start to lose sleep and our much-cherished peace of mind. At that point, we have crowned our loved ones the authors of our happiness; the writers of our life scripts.
From that moment on, we become caught up in the struggle for control. We stop doing the things that once made us happy. We stop focusing on our selves, and start giving them exclusive attention. The acts that were once performed for our loved ones as a way to show our love, now become motivated by a need to control – out of fear, not out of love. With their inherent value forgotten, they are carried out as means to an end.
The goal in this case is our happiness, which we hope to receive if our loved ones act in a certain way. They are done hoping to receive paybacks. It kills our freedom and also the relationship. The things that made us fall in love with them become a sore point for us. We stop appreciating them for the people that they are, and want them to become exactly as we want them to. After all, our happiness depends on them so there is absolutely no room for divergence from our predefined set of acceptable behaviours whatsoever.
Our loved ones are able to sense this shift in our motives. They then start to feel suffocated by our constant attention and gestures of affection. They also come to realize that we have made them the authors of our happiness. This burden is too much for them to carry so they start to turn away from us. They don’t give up without trying though.
But as we are keeping tabs on everything that they do, they don’t know which one of their mistakes would be termed as a sin, and this fear makes them distance themselves from us. This distance could be physical and/or mental. Then, bitterness sets in. Ironically we lose all our affection for our loved ones just because they do not fit into our ideas of how they should be or act. Too much for true love.
If you find yourself struggling with your relationships, enlist the conditions and expectation you have come to associate with them. Write them all on a paper. You will have a good laugh about some of them. You will be amused by the nonsensical nature of these demands. You have to do away with them, and learn to give without expectations. You need to stop living in fear of losing your loved ones as this is the only thing that would drive them away.
This means that you have to take responsibility for your happiness and accept the status of the other party as a human, who can and will err. In short, you must learn to love unconditionally because it is only the form of love that lasts.