Let’s be frank here.
Most people want love. The craving for approval and affection from others is embedded into our DNA. There’s probably nothing else on earth (other than the survival instinct) that is as strong and primal as the longing for love.
We need to belong. We NEED to feel loved. This is all normal. It’s a wonderfully exciting and ecstatic quest that we all walk sooner or later.
But what happens when our search for love becomes tainted with unconscious motives? What happens when our search for love comes from a place of avoidance and fear?
The answer: we suffer. But we don’t just experience garden-variety-type-suffering, we go through cyclical suffering, meaning that we repeat the same toxic patterns over and over again. In other words, when the love we have obtained doesn’t distract us from ourselves enough, we jump ship. We break up. We divorce. We try to find someone new who will fill that hole inside of us. We get bored or scared. We leave. Then the cycle starts again.
Why We Use the Search For Love to Escape Ourselves
One of the simplest reasons why we use the search for love to escape ourselves is simply because that’s how we were programmed as children.
Growing up, we were conditioned to believe that romantic love was the greatest pursuit of life. From the tender age of two or three, we were read fairy tales that depicted princess and princesses falling in love and eventually getting married. How many times do you remember the sentence, “…and they lived happily ever after”? These beliefs surrounding romantic love were deeply ingrained in our fragile young minds. (Hell, I even have drawings from the age of 5 of kings and queens getting married.)
As we grew up, the idea that the search for love is the Purpose of Life was reinforced by Hollywood films, books, magazines, pop songs, and even self-improvement workshops – and every day it continues to be bolstered by social media, Hollywood, and the people around us.
Can you see why so many of us fall into the trap of using love as a form of escapism? We were virtually brainwashed as children to see it as the only path to happiness and fulfilment.
The second reason why we use love as a drug to numb and avoid our pain is that the high of falling in love is incomparable. It is pure ecstasy – and much better + long lasting than the drug variety. Life suddenly feels magical and awe-inspiring again. Anything feels possible. Tidal waves of joy wash over you. You feel warm, tingly, elevated, and drunk all at once. Optimism replaces your negative outlook on life – you feel like a new person!
Falling in love is an amazingly transcendental adventure. It is a great blessing to experience something so pure and sacred. So how can such an experience become corrupted? The answer is that our motivations sully the experience. And remember that we aren’t always conscious of our motivations.
When finding love is used as a way of escaping ourselves, it becomes more like a drug to numb our pain, rather than a spiritual journey. The experience is cheapened as conditions are placed upon the relationship in order for it to work. The dominant unspoken condition is: “You must make me happy and distract me enough from my pain and emptiness in order for this to work.” When this condition isn’t met consistently, the relationship begins to sour, decompose, and break apart.
We humans are quite resourceful when it comes to escaping our inner sorrow, rage, loneliness, and emptiness. Virtually anything – so long as it keeps us distracted – can be used to bypassing facing and overcoming this suffering. Popular examples include food, TV, gossip, drama, sex, partying, workaholism, social entanglements, and of course, drugs and alcohol. But perhaps most dazzling of all is the pursuit of love.
What better way to distract yourself and fill the void inside of you than chasing after your soulmate? It is a quest that promises to give you a “happily ever after” (and therefore solve all of your problems) – not to mention it’s so damn exciting and a million times better than a telenovela. Oh, and there’s no stigma attached to using love as your form of escapism, unlike drugs. So you get the social approval as well. How convenient.
10 Signs You’re Using Love to Escape Yourself
I’m a person who values truth. I hope you do too. The thing about truth is that it can hurt badly. So if you have gotten a stinging reaction to this article, please take the time to reflect on what that reaction truly means on a deep level.
Love is a touchy topic, and many people prefer to live in a fantasy land rather than in reality – which I understand. But love doesn’t need to be used as a form of escapism for it to be intoxicating and profoundly life-changing. In fact, if you are genuinely wanting to experience authentic and mature love, I recommend ruminating on the topic of this article. Ask yourself, “Am I using the search for love to escape myself?” Be proud of yourself for taking this courageous step. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to love (and basically everything in life).
Signs that you’re using the search for love to escape yourself include the following:
- You believe that you’re “not complete” without a romantic partner/soulmate/twin flame
- You can’t cope with being alone or spending time by yourself
- You are a Relationship Hopper: you jump from one relationship to another quickly
- Your life centres around the pursuit of finding your One True Love
- All of your personal hopes and dreams are wound up in your search for love
- On some level, you believe that the Perfect relationship will solve all of your problems
- You have had very dramatic and stormy relationships in the past
- You feel a looming/subtle sense of anxiety and endangerment in your relationships
- You want a deep and soulful relationship, but you always somehow end up with shallow/surface partners
- You consider yourself a Romantic or an Idealist (or both)
Why did I choose these signs? If you are using the search for love as an escape you will be driven by romantic idealism and the belief that your One True Love will complete you. This is a fallacy because it makes your self-esteem, self-worth, and happiness dependent on another person, making you feel a sense of constant underlying anxiety and endangerment. A sense of wholeness can and must be found only within yourself, not within another.
Once you do find a partner, you will attract a person who fulfils your unconscious need to escape and numb yourself. But because your relationship is based on this unspoken desire, once it stops fulfilling this function, it quickly begins to disintegrate, leaving you heartbroken. Because you feel empty or alone inside, you can’t stand being by yourself, so you will hop onto another relationship, and another, and another, leaving you exhausted.
Sound like a familiar pattern?
How to Experience Authentic Love – Without the Addiction & Escapism
When your search for love is driven by the unconscious motives of escaping or numbing your inner pain/emptiness, you will always be unhappy. After a while, you might even give up hope of ever having a satisfying relationship. Worst of all, you might become a cynic and declare that romantic love is pointless or not for you.
In order to carefully remove yourself from this sticky web of suffering, you have to, first and foremost, be self-aware. You must clearly and honestly OWN this as your issue that must be worked through. There can be no growth or progression without this first step. A similar rule applies for addicts: in order to heal, you must first get over the denial stage and agree that there is a serious issue.
Love, in a way, can become an addiction. Yes, it is a socially approved addiction, but it is an addiction nonetheless. And we all know what addiction does to your life: it can quickly turn it into a living hell.
If you think you might be struggling with love escapism, here are some steps you can take to experience a deep, authentic, and genuinely magical relationship:
1. Stop chasing love
Understand that chasing love only creates more frustration and hopelessness. Really try to understand this concept and dig your teeth into it. Chasing happiness creates suffering. I wrote more about this topic in this article about surrender.
2. Replace your chasing with a healthier form of escapism
It is very difficult to just stop doing something you’re habitually inclined to do, cold turkey. In order to temporarily prevent yourself from relapsing into old habits, find something else to distract yourself with or pursue. Healthy forms of escapism may include learning a new skill, creating goals, and pursuing new hobbies such art and craft, cooking, reading, blogging, vlogging, dressmaking, tarot, animal rearing, gardening, yoga, tai chi, martial arts, travelling, veganism, horse riding – you name it. Find something you are interested in or passionate about and channel your energy towards learning about and mastering it. To help you set new habits, I strongly recommend reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
3. Creatively explore what you’re trying to avoid
Spend time thinking about what feeling or state of being you’re trying to avoid. Go as deep as you can. For example, you might think you’re trying to avoid boredom, but if you go even deeper, you might find that what you really afraid of is loneliness. Or you might think that you’re afraid of being lonely, but what you’re really afraid of is emptiness and disconnection from your Soul. Common things people run away from include self-loathing and poor self-esteem, heartbreak, grief, depression, fear, anger, loneliness, and emptiness. Creatively expressing these thoughts and emotions will not only serve as a form of emotional catharsis but also a way to experience more clarity. I recommend journalling and art therapy as a way of diving into your innerscape.
4. Face and embrace your demons
Facing and embracing your demons is what I call Shadow Work – it is about coming in contact with that darker and hidden side of yourself which you would normally prefer to avoid completely. Once you have discovered what your greatest fear is, there are only two paths. The first path is to willfully avoid facing your fear (and continue suffering). The second path is to courageously face your fear (and eventually experience freedom). Mind you, Shadow Work is not for the faint of heart. You must seriously commit to this work, but it’s OK to take breaks. Sol and I have written numerous articles on Shadow Work which will help you out. Here are some you might like to start with:
- Instead of Chasing Happiness, Search the Darkness
- Shadow Self: Embracing Your Inner Darkness
- Illuminative Ways to Encounter Your Shadow Self
5. Let love come to you
Instead of chasing love, let it come to you when the time is right. The Universe can’t be forced or manipulated into giving you what you want. Be humble and let go of the need for control. Your soulmate/twin flame will come when the time is right, and not a moment sooner. But although you can’t control when your beloved will appear in your life, you can control how receptive and open you will be to such a meeting. I will explore that next …
6. Love and respect yourself
Would you like to meet your soulmate/twin flame and have a happy and fulfilling relationship? The best way to be open to this experience is by learning how to love and respect yourself. When your love quest is motivated by unconscious fear or self-loathing, your relationship will inevitably be tainted. But when you already feel confident and secure within yourself, then your relationship is more likely to be rich and rewarding. Why? The answer is that you are not relying on your partner for validation or self-worth: you already possess these qualities. So learn how to be whole and complete by yourself, and your joy will be doubled when you meet your beloved – not out of quiet desperation – but out of the sheer delight of sharing your life with another.
7. Learn to enjoy being alone
Break free from the societal conditioning which makes you believe that your self-worth, fulfilment, and fundamental wholeness is based on whether you’re in a relationship or not. Learn to love being alone. Enjoy your own company. Explore who you are. Do some soul-searching. You don’t need another person to fulfil you. As a person who has found their twin flame and is in a wonderfully strong relationship, I can tell you that your partner will not fulfil you. Only you can fulfil you. Your Soul is already complete. You just need to break through the obstacles of the ego to realize that. Romantic partners can be our companions, confidants, best friends, lovers, and so much more, but they do not complete us. Such a mentality only creates profound unhappiness and confusion. If you want to experience the reality that you are already complete yourself, I highly recommend that you seek out a shaman and try plant medicine such as san pedro, psilocybin mushrooms, or ayahuasca. Plant medicine is a doorway into the Divine and a portal into the Soul. (But please ensure that you’re mentally stable before consuming it. Plant medicine is not something to be trifled with!)
To distil the message of this article: become self-aware. Are you using the search for love to escape yourself? If so, I strongly recommend using the advice in this article to liberate yourself. Deep and soulful relationships need a strong foundation, and the only way you can achieve that is by learning to face your fears, enjoy being alone, and love the person you are.
I hope these words have inspired you to look deeper and cut through the invisible bonds of enslavement to the idea that you must find love to be happy. You can most certainly be happy alone. And relationships are a delightful bonus.