The Voice Of Fear

 

Conditionality


I don't mind that your love is conditional.

I just mind the fact that I don't know when it is conditional.


We want to think that when people love us or when we love them, that love is unconditional. Unconditional love is a romantic notion, but it really makes no sense.

 

Love is an emotion. Love is a fuel. Love is a level of intensity.

 

Love can fuel obsession, possessiveness, jealousy, hatred and more. At the same time, it can fuel the greatest acts of courage, passion and sacrifice. The fact that someone loves you only means they have stronger feelings than simply liking you. Unless love fuels a code of conduct controlled by the heart, we feel what I call, "love in a box." This box is the set of parameters within which we maintain romantic love. The edges of that box are where our fear appears and disconnects us from our hearts. 

 

You think of romantic love as trust, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, benefit of the doubt, duty and honor. But if you love a person so much that you fear losing them to another, that jealous fear can push you out of your box and cause you begin to act in ways that are in opposition to romantic love. Jealous love may become violent. It may cause you to try to control your partner so you can again feel safe and return to your box. This usually makes things worse because your partner feels betrayed by your lack of trust, causing him or her to leave his or her box. Once both parties are out of their boxes, romantic love fails and there is no chance for the fear to ever be addressed.

 

Case in point: A woman no longer wants her husband to go out with his male friends because some cheat on their wives and she is afraid that this behavior will influence her husband to also cheat. Her fear and jealousy tells her that, if she can just get him to stay at home, she will feel safe again. But this attempt to control her husband only makes things worse, as his resulting anger pushes him out of his box. Both parties may fight to get back to where they started, but the situation usually ends with both parties getting pushed further and further out of their respective boxes, until there is some damage done to the relationship.


Both of my parents lived in small love boxes. My attempt to control their volatility was to anticipate their fear and prevent anything that would move them out of their boxes. This made me a very stressed, hyper-vigilant, care-taking child. But their fears were so powerful and their boxes so small, it was impossible to keep them inside.

 

Listening to the voice of fear takes you out of your box and, at that point, the only way back is to follow the path dictated by fear. However, if you challenge the voice of fear and refuse to give it control, you move back into your heart and expand your box . In fact, you can eventually expand your box to a point where your love is no longer limited by fear.

 

When someone we love treats us badly, but we need their love, we say, “I know they really love me.” This provides us some comfort when they treat us in such an unloving manner. But, the truth of the matter is, they don’t love you outside of their box -- only inside. How often have men beaten their wives, only to break down and beg forgiveness? This marks a man who is violent outside of his box and submissive inside it. The women that enable these men put up with the violence because of their need for the love given when their man returns to his box. These women will often violently defend these men and proclaim he promises to change. This is simply two people moving in and out of their boxes in a codependent manner.

 

To say that a person loves you when they are treating you in an unloving way makes no sense, but we see it this way because we see love as an all-or-nothing proposition. The truth is that you have love and you have fear. In the box, they love you; out of the box, they don't. Therefore, to have a successful relationship, you have one of two choices: You can transcend fear and have no box at all -- living your life by a code of duty and honor -- or you can have a fear-compatible relationship.

 

 

Fear Compatibility

 

Compatibility is said to be the cornerstone of a good relationship – and I agree. But when we talk about compatibility, what are we really talking about? I don’t think it matters how much of the "fun stuff" you have in common, but I do think it is critical that you have a compatible relationship in terms of shared fears. If you don’t react in similar ways when confronted by your fears, you each become a barrier to the comfort and safety of one another and push each other out of your box.

 

Here is a simple example:

 

Let’s say there is a couple. Person A deals with fear by cleaning and organizing the surrounding environment. In this way, the cleaning is a physical symbol of clearing stress by gaining control over the space. This organization helps counter the out-of-control feeling their fear is creating outside this space. On the other hand, when Person B feels equally stressed, he or she deals with fear in a way that directly contrasts with his or her partner. Person B wants a cluttered, messy environment because getting lost in the clutter helps take the focus away from his or her problems in a way that is comforting.

Imagine if both partners are at home experiencing their fears at the same time. Person B is lying on the couch eating and watching TV, trying to escape the stress. Clothes are strewn over a nearby chair, crumbs are getting on the couch and there is a mess in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Person A is trying to clean up the house, running the vacuum right in front of the TV. Both parties will clash to get the environment the way they need it in order to be comforted from their fears. This makes them enemies to each other and a fight will surely ensue.

 

Now, imagine a second couple that is fear-compatible. They both arrive home feeling stressed, but they deal with their stress in the same way. Person C is vacuuming while Person D is doing the dishes. The harder they work together, the calmer they become because each turns into a solution for the other’s stress. Once the home is clean, they can feel tension release and may even discuss what caused the stress in the first place.

When we experience our fears in the same way, we comfort each other. Meanwhile, the first couple is still fighting to achieve a level of comfort that will never come because they are not fear-compatible. Each one's fear pushes the other out of the box.

 

A fear-compatible relationship can be as fulfilling as a relationship with no fear. If you are a person on a journey to transcend fear and have no box, then you need a compatible partner. If you are at your destination and don't want to explore your fears, you need a fear-compatible partner. Conditionality is only a problem if we don't know when it will appear.

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