Waterheart by ~fission1 found at deviantart

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Diana over at Sincerely, Diana wrote this post about The Race to Love the Least. She talked about a conversation she had with a friend when she first began dating her late husband.

She said that in every relationship, particularly every new relationship, there is a contest between participants.  The goal?  Be the person who loves the least in the relationship. She said that it occurs most obviously and frequently in relationships that are either romantic or on the way to being romantic, but that it happens in all types of relationships.

This has been running around in my mind ever since she posted it.

I think it could be true.

It’s hard to open up, let someone in, trust them.

Especially after you’ve had your heart broken.

And if it’s been broken more than once?

Ooooh, boy.

I know that in a lot of my relationships, I was the one that held back, that loved the least.

I’ve mentioned that part of my younger days were rather. . .  adventurous. There was a time when I didn’t spend a night alone unless I wanted to be alone.

But most of those were not relationships. They were sexual partners.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that – sex is a biological need, and I’ve never thought it should be shameful. Having sex was one way I used to deal with my manic energy before I was diagnosed. It may not have been the healthiest way, but it worked for a time.

I somehow found it very easy to keep most men at arms length, to have sex without becoming attached. Of course, I did go through a phase where most of the men I picked to have sex with were ones that I had nothing in common with. That made it easier to keep emotions out of the deal.

While I regret hurting my first husband, I didn’t actually find it all that hard to leave him. That’s because I wasn’t as attached as he was.

But there are problems with being this way, and the biggest one is, how do you let someone in when you’ve spent most of your life keeping people out?

It’s easier, less painful, to “love the least”.

But it’s impossible to find lasting love when you live your life that way.

Oh, I haven’t always been the one to love the least, and I have had my heart broken.

But I can tell that I’ve often acted out of fear instead of love.

Fear of being hurt, fear of offending someone, fear of doing or saying the “wrong” thing to push them away. . . .

I think even some of the times when I’ve been the most giving, it’s been out of fear, thinking something like, “If I can give him everything he wants, then maybe he’ll stay.”

There’s a lot of fear in that thought. And there are times when I’ve suppressed parts of myself because of that fear.

I am strong enough to know that I don’t want that anymore. I don’t want to live in fear.

But that has caused me to do something else.

It’s caused me to push everyone away. If no one gets a chance to get close, then there’s nothing to fear.

I find this interesting because there are some ways in which I’ve always been a “jump in with both feet without looking” kind of person. And there has been at least once when I did that with a relationship.

I know that there have been times when I have loved deeply and fiercely (even if it’s hard to remember exactly how that feels now).

And I do love. I love my daughter, I love my family (even though they drive me crazy!), I love my imaginary intermaweb friends who have helped me through so much.

But can I stop trying to be the one that loves the least? Can I act from a place of love instead of a place of fear?

I’d like to know how other people overcame this fear of being hurt and let themselves go to love.