Confused about what’s going on in your relationship? Here’s your secret decoder ring.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
– Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride
You’ll be shocked to discover that Inigo Montoya had it right when it comes to love language. Many of the important things we say to our loved ones really do not mean what we think they mean.
Here are the five most important relationship lies that we unwittingly tell.
Lie #1 “I hate you”
I picked up Tatiana after work. This was our first get together since she dumped me a few weeks earlier. I had treated her badly and she had every reason to be angry with me, but we were going to try to be friends. We planned a low-key evening watching a DVD – The Princess Bride.
[All the vignettes in this article are from my personal life experiences, but I’ve changed the names and details to protect the innocent.]
Tatiana opened the car door and plopped into the passenger seat without a smile, staring straight ahead, chin jutting forward and arms tightly crossed. Instead of a friendly greeting, she cursed, “I h-h-h-hate you!” extending the guttural “h” of her sexy Russian accent for emphasis. Her cheeks were flushed red with emotion.
In that moment, I realized that it wasn’t over between us – she still cared about me so much that she had to hate me.
Our plan of a platonic evening watching a movie together didn’t last long.
After the movie started she told me that she had worn her ugliest winter underwear to make sure we didn’t have sex: scratchy wool long-johns and her least attractive granny cotton knickers. I nodded in acknowledgement.
A few moments later she decided to prove it by showing me her ugly long-johns and ugly knickers. It was one of the most obviously mixed messages I’ve encountered, “Look I’m going to unbutton my pants to show you we’re definitely not going to have sex.”
Moments later our attraction and passion overwhelmed the hurt we had felt. We kissed hungrily and I carried her into the bedroom.
The Real Meaning Of “I Hate You”
The real meaning of “I hate you.” is “I want you, but you did something to hurt me.”
Love me or hate me, both are in my favor…If you love me, I’ll always be in your heart…If you hate me, I’ll always be in your mind.
– William Shakespeare
Instead of taking responsibility for our feelings, we use anger as an attempt to hide and numb our pain. We push the other person away so that we don’t get hurt again, and blame them for the pain of our own unfulfilled needs.
How To Achieve Authenticity
When you find yourself feeling hate for a loved one, here is what you can do
- Acknowledge the pain you feel underneath the anger.
- Heal your own wounds so that the actions of others are less devastating to you.
- Recognize they did something that hurt you, and you have a choice about whether you stay or leave. If you leave them, mourn and release the loss as fast as you can. If you stay, own your reactions as your own and let go of any resentments you’re holding onto.
Lie #2 “You’re just like every other man (or woman)!”
But as we got to know each other, I quickly realized that she was too fiery for my liking. She described every one of her exes as “an asshole.” Worse, she was not on speaking terms with any of her family members. I knew we had no future together and decided it was better to end things sooner rather than later.
The result was entirely predictable. “I thought you were different, but you turned out to be just like every other man. You’re an asshole.” she exclaimed on multiple occasions in phone calls, long email messages, Facebook messages and texts. Eventually I blocked her on Facebook and set up an email filter that automatically deleted messages from her. I even customized the notification settings for texts and calls from her to ‘silent’ so that I would not be woken up at 4 AM on the mornings she felt the need to re-affirm her already clearly stated anger.
The Real Meaning Of “You’re Just Like Every Other Man (Or Woman)!”
The real meaning of “You’re just like every other man (or woman)!” is “I was hurt by my dad (or mom) or some other guy (or woman) and you did something that re-stimulated that wound.”
Once I realized how much Mary hated all of her exes, I knew that it was only a matter of time before she hated me in the same way. It had nothing to do with me or my character as a man, but everything to do with her wounds in relationship to men in general, and probably her dad in particular. She had fallen into the “I hate you” trap described above, and then generalized her hatred to include all men, not just the particular one who had hurt her the worst or the first.
How To Achieve Authenticity
If you find yourself hating all men, or women, here are some things you can do uncover and heal your own wounds – and save yourself from replaying disastrous relationships over again.
- Remember that no two people are the same. The person you are with right now is not like every other man or woman. If you’re judging them as a stereotype, you’re likely to bring out the worst in them. By reducing your judgment and increasing compassion – so that you can see them more as they truly are – you’ll give them a much better chance of being the person you want them to be.
- Reach back in time to find the first person and event that impacted you so strongly that you generalized to all men or women. Heal that wound. When you heal your core wounds your reality will change in an instant and your perception of an entire gender will improve.
Lie #3 “I can’t trust you”
Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.
– Isaac Watts
The Real Meaning Of “I Can’t Trust You.”
- “I cannot trust any man (or woman). You’re a man (or woman). Therefore I cannot trust you.”
This one is a variation of “You’re just like any other man (or woman)” covered above.
- “I know that you will do ‘that bad thing’ again in the future, but I’d rather deny that reality.” The truth is that if someone has done something to hurt us in the past, it’s almost certain that they’ll do the same thing again in the future. Instead of dealing with reality, we project an idealized fantasy onto the other person. Then we blame them for not living up to that fantasy in a vain attempt to manipulate them into being the person we know they’re not.
I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.
– Maya Angelou
How To Achieve Authenticity
When we acknowledge the truth that someone who hurt us in the past will likely hurt us again in the same way in the future, we are faced with an unpleasant choice: accept the other person as they are or leave them.
Here’s what you can do to become more authentic and have more fulfilling relationships.
- If you can’t trust anyone, then this issue is in you, not with the other people around you. Focus on developing self-trust first – the trust to make wise choices and select appropriate people to pursue intimate relationships with.
- If you’re with someone whom you cannot trust, own up to the fact that they’re most likely never going to change. Either accept them as they are and stop trying to manipulate them, or leave them and find someone who matches your needs better.
- If you always attract people who behave in ways you don’t like, then you’ve either got a heavy dose of shame telling you that you’re not worthy of better, or you’re re-enacting dysfunctional relationships with your family. Either way, you’ll do better to deal with your own stuff so that you start attracting the right people.
Lie #4 “I love you”
I thought I loved Rebecca when I asked her to marry me, but when I was 23, love was more a concept than an emotion. I thought I loved her, but I didn’t really know what love was as an experience.
The truth was that I asked her to marry me because I felt profoundly alone in the world. I wanted to secure the love, caring and companionship of a woman to be with me for the rest of my life.
My motivations were understandable. My father had died when I was eight and my mother when I was 21, leaving me feeling alone in the world. Although it sounds ugly to say it out loud, my unconscious motivation was to ensure that I would have a loving woman in my life.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t last.
The Real Meanings Of “I Love You”
- “I need you.”
- “I want you to care for me.”
- “I’m afraid you’ll leave me.”
When we are babies, love and need are inextricably linked. We love our parents but we also need them for our survival. When our parents do not fulfill our emotional and physical needs (and they never can 100% of the time) we feel abandoned. As a result, we grow up confusing love with various forms of abandonment and unfulfilled needs – the need for food, the need for protection, the need for nurturing and the need for emotional caring.
We also learn that expressing love can be a way to elicit love, or at least the reciprocation of the statement “I love you too.” from those around us.
Usually when we say, “I love you,” there is some portion of these needs mixed in with any genuine love we feel.
And here is the one true meaning:
- “I love you.” Occasionally, “I love you.” actually means, “I love you!”
The true meaning of “I love you” is “I accept you as you are, with an open heart, and without judgment.”
How To Achieve Authenticity
The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them
– Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
To genuinely love someone else, we must deal with our own unfulfilled needs enough that we do not project our needs onto the other person. We must also be able to see and appreciate them as they are, without judgment.
The best way to heal our own needs is to reach back in time to heal our early experiences of abandonment. Our Abandonment To Abundance program will show you how to achieve that.
To be able to love other people as they are, we first need to increase our sense of self-acceptance. The more we accept ourselves, the more we can accept others. The guided meditation How To Love Yourself will support you in developing self-acceptance. Then we need to learn to reduce our own judgments so that we can accept others with an open and loving heart. The guided meditation How To Become More Loving And Compassionate will support you around this issue.
Lie #5 “I’ll love you forever”
Josephine and I had a moving spiritual connection. We could spend hours just gazing into each other’s eyes – the windows to the soul. It was like time stopped and we were in communion with life, love, the universe and God. The experience was eternal and life altering.
We shared an eternal love.
I was sure I would love her forever.
Unfortunately, outside those spiritual moments our relationship was a disaster. Every time I moved closer to her she got scared and pushed me away. Every time I pulled back she drew me towards her with an emotional and spiritual allure that was almost irresistible.
After a few months of unpredictable and heart-wrenching back and forth, I broke up with her.
Our eternal love ended in miserable pain and pushed me into deep depression.
The Real Meaning Of “I’ll Love You Forever”
The real meaning of “I’ll love you forever” is “At this very moment, I feel eternal love for you.” The experience in the moment is outside of time and so feels eternal. Indeed it is eternal. But that should not be confused with a prediction about your future feelings back in the ordinary space-time continuum. In the ordinary world, the eternal experience is a temporary experience that will pass. “Eternal” does not mean “forever.”
How To Achieve Authenticity
Recognize that the experience of ‘eternal love’ is simply an experience of love in the present moment that feels like it exists outside of time. This is a genuine and profound experience, but it is not a predictor of future feelings.
This does not diminish the experience of eternal love at all. In fact, it will free you up to enjoy the most profound moments of spiritual connection with others without putting you into a confusing mind-trip and disappointment when those eternal feelings do not translate into continuous and life-long love.
Love is an experience, not a belief set and certainly not a prediction of future feelings.
As the Romans said, “carpe diem,” seize the day and enjoy the moment.