Lacking love

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I’ve never been in love—does that mean there’s something wrong with me? I read your column weekly and know I can trust you to tell me the truth. Am I damaged? I’ve only been in two relationships, both fizzled out after a couple months. I’ve dated men I was interested in but it wasn’t reciprocal. I’ve also dated men who were into me but I didn’t feel anything for them. I had a happy childhood with wonderful parents and siblings. My sister is married to one of the last good guys. Will I ever fall in love?

Yes, true love is possible, even probable for you, just as it is for nearly everyone who desires it. Here’s the essential question for your quest: How much are you willing to give up in order to receive love? If you’re not ready to surrender a lot, it will be difficult to attract the love you desire. I suggest you get naked—emotionally, that is. Strip away the fear that there’s something wrong with you. A life that doesn’t conform to the rhythm of other lives isn’t abnormal for the person living it, if that person celebrates the best of herself and doesn’t harm others. But a person who clings to the fear that she’s damaged can cause her to push potential partners away without realizing it.

Are you certain your brother-in-law is among the last good guys? If so, you’ve programmed your mind to believe that good guys are in limited supply. That will feed your hopelessness, but it won’t help you open your heart. Your sister found a partner whose personality aligned with her own. In other words, when you connect deeply with someone, you can tolerate their annoying qualities (we all have them) because the other aspects of being together are so good you don’t want to be without him. So fall in love with the idea that there is nothing wrong with you. Open your awareness to other obstacles to love that you are likely nurturing. Root them out. Don’t put your dreams on hold—enjoy your life. Savor every experience of love with family, friends and this gorgeous world. More love will come your way.

I dated someone for a long time even though I knew she wasn’t right for me. I just didn’t want to be alone. I wanted someone to do fun things with on the weekends. It was so hard when we broke up because I knew I shouldn’t have held on for so long but I couldn’t help myself. I feel like I stay with any girl who keeps coming back. Advice?

Believe that you deserve to choose who you want to spend time with—you’re not stuck with whoever appears in your life. Yes, I’m telling you to respect the power of choice. Become a better lover, too. If you grew in love of yourself and others, you would not remain in a relationship with someone you aren’t interested in romantically. After all, why prolong mediocrity? There’s no love in that. Make sweeter choices by embracing the pleasure of solitude. Being alone and without distraction invites intimacy with your thoughts and feelings. Once you befriend yourself, you will choose relationships for all the right reasons. And that’s a real act of love.

Meditation of the Week

“I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all of my heart,” writes Alice Walker. How do you prepare for the arrival of the next chapter in your life?