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S2 EP104 – What is Real Love?

Episode Summary

We all want to experience real love, but how do you know when what you are experiencing is real love, or if what you are experiencing is infatuation or emotional dependency? Do you know the difference between real love and infatuation or emotional dependency? They are light years apart! 


Hi Everyone. This is Dr. Margaret Paul with the Inner Bonding podcast and today I want to talk about real love. Most people would love to have “real love,” yet often they have no idea what real love is. Take a moment to think about how you would define real love.

Defining love is like defining a particular color to a person who has never been able to see color – you have to feel it to know what it is. The reason it is hard to define real love is because you can’t experience it with your mind, and definitions are of the mind. Real love is of the heart and is a feeling that is the result of your intention to be loving, which of course is very different than the intention to be loved. The desire to be loved comes from the ego wounded part of ourselves, the part that believes we need to get love from others in order to feel filled and worthy – that real love is something we get rather than something we are and something we share.

This is what creates the confusion regarding real love.

Real love is what you are – what your soul is – a spark of the Divine within. Love is what the energy of the universe is. When your deepest desire is to be loving to yourself and others, this desire opens your heart and you become filled with the love that is as ubiquitous as the air you breathe. This is real love – the experience of Spirit that fills the emptiness within and lets you know that you are never alone.

But what about real love with another person? How do we know when we are experiencing real love?

Real love is what we experience when two or more people come together with open hearts already filled with love, and the love from their hearts overflows as it is openly and joyously shared.

If you come to a relationship with a feeling of emptiness and unworthiness, you cannot experience real love. Real love from another person is not the cake – it is the icing on the cake. The cake needs to be the love that comes through you from your higher power, and the icing is the love you share with another or others.

If you expect another’s love to be the cake, then you will not experience real love, because you are coming from a closed heart and the neediness and inner emptiness comes from self-abandonment.

Real love does not need anything from another person.

Real love is like a waterfall flowing down inside from your higher power, filling the lake within and then flowing out in rivers and streams as it is shared with others. However, when the heart is closed, then the lake is empty and becomes like a bottomless sinkhole, desperately attempting to suck love, attention, and approval from others.

If you want to experience real love within a relationship, then you need to open – through your desire to be loving – to the unconditional love coming through you. You need to invite God-which-is-Love into your heart and become filled with it.

The challenge here is that you cannot desire to get love and be loving at the same time. The intent to get love will always lead to a closed heart and controlling behavior, which shuts out real love. The intent to be loving, and to learn what is loving to yourself and to others in any given moment, is what opens the heart. When you choose the intent to be loving with yourself and others, you will experience real love.

When you love someone, you want their highest good. You support what brings them joy, rather than trying to get them to give themselves up for you. You don’t want to own them – you want to support them in being all they can be. When you are supporting your own and the other person’s highest good, you never need to possess the other person. You want to share love with your beloved, rather than get love through owning the other person.

There is nothing controlling about real love—it supports your own and your partners’ freedom. In contrast, if you are infatuated and emotionally dependent, you might feel jealous and possessive, coming from the fear of loss. What comes from fear is not love—it is neediness. Infatuation and emotional dependency come from inner emptiness and expects the other person to fill the empty place that comes from self-abandonment.

Real love of another comes from real love for yourself—from knowing and valuing your true self so that you can know and value the true self of your beloved. Infatuation comes from projecting onto the other person the qualities that you disown in yourself. When you are infatuated, you are seeing the other person though the ego wounded eyes of your self-abandonment. You are star-struck with who you think the other person is and what you think they are giving to you. You cannot see who they really are through the star-struck eyes of your wounded self.

Sharing real love with a beloved partner is truly the highest experience in life. Nothing comes close to the joy of sharing your heart and soul with another while the other is sharing his or her heart and soul with you, and you are each fully receiving each other. Nothing is more profound than these moments of sharing love.

Most people sense the truth of this, but often confuse the sharing of love with the getting of love. While getting love may provide a momentary good feeling, it is a mere shadow of the joy experienced in the sharing of love.

You can’t share what you don’t have. If you are not loving yourself—through defining your own worth, speaking up for yourself, taking responsibility for learning from and managing your feelings, creating financial and relationship safety, taking care of your body and managing your time and your environment well—then you are not filled within with the love that is Spirit. We get filled up with love when we are loving and valuing ourselves. Our intent to love ourselves and to learn with our guidance about what is loving to ourselves, is what opens our heart to being filled with the love that is God.

Real love comes only from this full place within. If we are not loving ourselves, then we are abandoning ourselves, which creates an empty place with. Infatuation and emotional dependency come from this empty needy place, which is why it doesn’t last.

Love that lasts is love that is not based on what you get, but on the true cherishing of your own and the other person’s essence—the true authentic self. If you don’t know your own true self, you likely can’t see another’s true self. If you believe that you are your ego wounded self, filled with fear and false beliefs and needy of being seen and loved, then you have not yet done the Inner Bonding work necessary to discover the magnificence of your true, authentic self.

If you want to share the greatest experience in life with your beloved, then focus first on learning to see, hear, and value your true essential self. The Inner Bonding process is a powerful way of discovering the beauty and fullness of your essence so that you can share real love.

Have you, at times wondered whether you are in love or infatuated or emotionally dependent?

Falling in love can come from two different inner states. When you fall in love from your ego wounded self, which is your false self that you created as part of your survival, you’re in love with how the other person loves you. You’re handing over to the other person the responsibility for your self-worth and wellbeing. And if he or she does a good job of attending to you in the way you want to be attended to, then you may say that you’re in love. However, it’s not so much the person you love, but what you love is how that person treats you. And when it feels as if you can’t live without the person that is emotional dependency. The part of you that thinks you are in love is really a child or an adolescent who’s needy for love because you are not loving yourself or loving others. You’re attaching your worth to another person’s attention and approval, which is why you can’t live without that person, and why you would feel so devastated if that person leaves.

When you fall in love as a loving adult, instead of as that wounded needy child or adolescent, your need and desire for the relationship is totally different. As a loving adult, you’ve learned through the consistent practice of Inner Bonding how to love yourself, how to fill yourself with love and how to define your own worth. So instead of needing someone to fill you and make you feel that you’re lovable and worthy, you already feel worthy and you’re already full of love. You experience this inner fullness because you learned how to take full responsibility for your own feelings. And you’ve learned to fill yourself up with love from a higher source and this fullness overflows, and you want to share this love with the other person. And hopefully that other person is also taking loving care of him or herself and is also a loving adult who’s filled with love and who’s desire is to share love rather than get love. Since we attract at our common frequency – which is our common level of self-love or self-abandonment, you are far more likely to attract a partner capable of real love if you are also capable of real love.

But if you feel like you can’t live without the person and you want to die if that person leaves you, you are emotionally dependent. Now this happens a lot because most people have not done their inner healing work to heal the fears and false beliefs of their wounded self. If you have not done this inner work, then you bring all the baggage from your childhood and adolescence into your relationship. You bring in all the role modeling from your parents or other caregivers regarding how they treated you and how they treated themselves. Even if they treated you lovingly, they likely abandoned themselves in many ways, and you have absorbed these forms of self-abandonment into your wounded self.

How often do you treat yourself the ways your parents treated you or themselves?  What did your parents or other caregivers role model regarding personal responsibility for their feelings? Did they blame each other? Was one or both compliant, giving themselves up? Was one aggressive and the other passive? Did they avoid their feelings with various addictions, such as using food, alcohol, drugs, work, busyness, shopping, spending, TV, affairs, and other ways of numbing out and avoiding their feelings? Did they have a   codependent system, where one of them was or is a caretaker and the other was or is a taker, each of them making the other responsible for their feelings in their different overt and covert controlling ways?

Are you aware of what you absorbed from their role modeling? Many people say to themselves, “I will never be like my parents,” yet when they get into a relationship, if they haven’t done their inner work to be aware of their wounded self, they unconsciously act just like their parents. My wounded self has aspects of both of my parents and it’s through my Inner Bonding practice that I’ve become aware of these wounded aspects and can choose not to go there. We don’t have to be victims of our past.   

This is not to say that we don’t need each other. We are wired to need each other. We all want connection. We are social beings and most of us love to be in a relationship. We need each other for a lot of things. We need each other to learn and grow, because most of the unhealed areas in our wounded self gets triggered when we are in a relationship. You might be great at taking loving care of yourself when you are alone, but what about when you are in a relationship? We also need each other to have each other backs, and to play with, to make love with, to support each other emotionally in many ways.

Just because we need emotional support doesn’t mean that we’re emotionally dependent. There’s a big difference between needing emotional support, which we all need, and being emotionally dependent, which means we’re abandoning ourselves. We’re making this other person responsible for whether we feel like we’re okay, and for our sense of safety and worth. There is a big difference between showing up for yourself as a loving adult and needing extra support from your partner, and making your partner responsible for you. There is a big difference between emotional dependency and interdependency.

In a loving relationship, both partners take responsibility for creating a sense of relationship safety. We all need to feel safe within the relationship to be who we are and to speak our heartfelt truth. So when we’re in a relationship, we each have a responsibility to be kind and caring and supportive, to be present, to be there. We all need that from each other. We all want that.  And that’s very different than emotional dependency.

So it’s really important to distinguish the difference between being emotionally dependent and needing emotional support. And to distinguish the difference between being able to truly love somebody because you you’re loving and valuing yourself and being needy of your partner to do this for you.  

Real love occurs when you see who your partner is in their soul, and you deeply value who they are. And because we all have a wounded self, you need to be able to tolerate their wounded self, and they need to be coming from their loving adult most of the time. If you adore who they are in their essence, but if they are operating mostly from their wounded self, you won’t be able to learn and grow with them and share love with them.

I hope you’re beginning to understand the big difference between infatuation and emotional dependency, which is about what you’re getting from the person – what they’re giving to you to make you feel like you’re okay, safe and worthy, and real love.  With infatuation and emotional dependency, you want the other person to complete you, while as a loving adult, you already feel complete within you. You’re not entering the relationship for somebody to complete you. Entering a relationship primarily as your wounded self is completely different than entering a relationship primarily as a loving adult.

My client, Gina, told me in our first session that the men she dated didn’t treat her well, and that she kept making excuses for them. She also said that she often felt stuck and unable to leave because she believed they would change. She wanted to know when to leave a relationship or when to stay and work on it.

What I told her is that often people treat us the way we treat ourselves. If you are judging yourself, then you might find your partner or others judging you. If you ignore your feelings and needs, then you might find a partner, family, or friends ignoring your feelings and needs.

Unless there is physical or emotional abuse, or severe substance abuse, I generally suggest that you stay and do your own inner work to learn to treat yourself with caring and respect. Once you are happy within yourself, it will be easy to see if your partner will also open to learning and do their inner work, or if they will continue to be uncaring. If they don’t open and learn to take responsibility for themselves, then you will know that this relationship isn’t going change and that it’s likely time to leave.  Only by opening to learning yourself and doing your own healing work will you know whether or not your partner will open to learning and healing.

The more you are connected with your feelings – your inner guidance and your higher guidance, the easier time you will have at the beginning of a relationship tuning into whether or not the other person is loving themselves and therefore capable of loving you. Early in relationship, if you’re tuned into your own feelings and it’s feeling bad, you know that’s the time to let it go.

Often my clients, who are in an unhappy marriage, knew before getting married that it wasn’t right, but they didn’t listen to themselves. Angie, on one of my webinars, who was in the process of getting a divorce, knew instinctively before she married that it wasn’t right for her. She said to the people listening, “Pay attention to your instincts. Don’t ignore what you know in your gut.” Good advice! 

Often my women clients tell me that they keep attracting emotionally unavailable men, and even staying in fairly long relationships with emotionally unavailable men, or men not available for a committed relationship. One of the things they are not aware of is they are also emotionally unavailable or not available for a committed relationship. If they were truly available, they wouldn’t be attracted to unavailable men, but due their fear of losing themselves in a relationship, they actually feel safe with unavailable men. I always suggest that they do their Inner Bonding work to learn to see and love and value themselves and become emotionally available to themselves, and then see what happens in their relationship. As we change, we change the entire relationship system. It will either get better or it will get worse as you do your own inner work, but as I previously said, you will easily know whether it’s loving to you to stay or to leave.

One of my clients asked me if being in love and being emotionally dependent are mutually exclusive – if it’s possible to be in love with a person and be emotionally dependent. As I said, real love and emotional dependency come from two different places. Emotional dependency is from the wounded self, so when you’re operating from your wounded self, you might be in that emotionally dependent state where you’re abandoning yourself. When you’re in love, truly in love, you’re in an adult state where there’s no self- abandonment, where you’re taking loving care of yourself. So in any given moment, they’re mutually exclusive. You can go back and forth. People can go back and forth between being in their loving adult and being in their wounded self. I doubt that anybody is enlightened enough to always be in their loving adult. So there’s going to be times when you’ll be emotionally dependent, and that’s not a bad thing – not something to judge. It’s just something to be aware of and something to be working on in terms of learning to love yourself rather than abandon yourself so that you experience real love more often.

This client also asked if it’s possible to start a relationship based on real love and then have it change and become one of emotional dependency. And the answer is yes that happens all the time where people do fall in love with each other. At the beginning of the relationship, they’re taking good care of themselves. They’re in a fairly whole place, but then they get into the relationship, and they start to abandon themselves. And once they start to abandon themselves, they eventually become emotionally dependent. It’s not unusual for people in love at the beginning of the relationship, to end up being emotionally dependent. But what this means is that they didn’t do the deeper inner work to heal their fears of rejection and engulfment before getting into the relationship, and hopefully, they will do this healing within the relationship so they can share real love.

I hope those of you listening to this podcast want to do your inner work so that you can experience the most wonderful experience there is – the sharing of real love.

I hope you join me for my 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”

You can heal your relationships with my 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.

And be sure to take advantage of our website at, as well as our many books on Inner Bonding, which you can get on our website or at Amazon or Goodreads.   

I’m sending you my love and my blessings!

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