Love 'Em & Leave 'Em

The Raw and The Real: Vulnerability vs. Weakness

Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em:
TGG’s Valentine Special

Inspiration for today’s relationship topic of discussion is brought to you by Nigerian-born, New York-based alternative R&B artist Toulouse’s “Reach Out.” Written, performed and produced entirely by Toulouse, “Reach Out” is a desperate call for the raw and the real that comes with relationships.

“‘Reach Out’ is about inhabiting the sacrificial and most humbling role of loving a prodigal and dysfunctional person unconditionally. It takes more courage to love an imperfect being than to hate an imperfect being.”

– Toulouse for Complex

The concept of emotional vulnerability is much more appealing than its practice to some, myself included. The hesitation of being forthright with your innermost thoughts and feelings with another person stems from a fear of rejection– that what we feel or think is wrong or will be ill-received. This fear of rejection may be derived from past experiences and their perceived outcomes. If you focus on the root of the mental blockage in this case, you might see how unfair that is to not only you, but to your respective partner. It’s important not to punish those who are willing to receive all of you for the actions and transgressions of other people.
One of the many ways self-sabotage manifests in relationships is by clinging to the notion that emotional vulnerability equates to weakness. This notion is fueled by ego. There’s nothing weak about unadulterated authenticity– it takes strength and fortitude to trust another person with your most personal business. By giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, you allow both parties the freedom and security to be 100% authentic in the relationship.

Be afraid and do it anyway.

On the other side of laying it all to bare is the willingness to receive and process another’s innerworkings with humility and compassion. This is where choice comes in again. By practicing empathy with the people we love, we plant seeds of trust and mutual protection within our relationships. Establishing a safe space with whom you desire this level of intimacy can open doors to deeper understanding of the relationship and each individual involved.
Receiving information and acting on information are two very different things. Sometimes, people just want to feel heard, no action required. Use emotional intelligence as a guide to understand the best way to receive your partner’s vulnerability. Don’t be afraid to ask them how you can show up for them or how they would prefer this information to be received: “Do you want a solution or do you want comfort right now?” Actively remember that there is no wrong answer to this question. Try not to allow your ego to cloud your ability to receive delicate information.

With all that being said, not every person in your life deserves unadulterated authenticity; be selective and use your best judgment to discern who in your life is worthy of receiving those parts of you. Try not to waste your energy on being heard by the wrong people.

Love 'Em & Leave 'Em

Relinquishing Control: Attachment or Love?

Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em:
TGG’s Valentine Special

Chicago native, Femdot provides nostalgic New York sound and the inspiration for today’s love topic: the difference between attachment and love. Whether they’re still pillars in our lives or in the rearview, “Happy Breakup Song,” magnifies the goodwill we should wish to those we love. Just because something doesn’t last forever, it doesn’t negate the growth, happiness or success brought on by the experience.

This a ‘thank you for helping me find myself’ song. This is a hope you got peace, hope the pieces of me helped you, like the pieces of you I had helped me.

Confusing love with possession or attachment is one way insecurity rears its ugly head in relationships. In the early stages of a romantic relationship, it can sometimes be easy to fall completely in line with your partner, becoming totally enveloped in the relationship and really not much else. Things that are deserving of your time and attention can fall to the wayside, like hobbies, friends and family, or responsibilities. According to a scientific study led by Dr. Helen Fischer at Rutgers, “Attraction involves the brain pathways that control ‘reward’ behavior, which partly explains why the first few weeks or months of a relationship can be so exhilarating and even all-consuming.”

But what about after the initial phases of love?
We’ve all either been there or seen that, those relationships where one person fears being without “The Other Half” for longer than a minute. Consistent insecure attachment in a romantic relationship is indicative of emotional dependency. Dependency such as this occurs when an individual feels less than whole prior to coupling, seeking wholeness within the relation. When emotional dependency like this is apparent in a relationship, the union becomes less about equal partnership and more about serving oneself to fill an imaginary void within. Dependency can look a lot like addiction that’s led by, you guessed it– ego.

To combat this fear of loss, we may cling on for dear life– applying pressure in order to feel in control, squeezing so hard that what we love eventually suffocates.

Have you ever seen a cute kitten or puppy and had the overwhelming (and slightly concerning) urge to squeeze a little too hard? I’m talking hard enough to maybe unintentionally inflict a little pain? Why would we want to squeeze the life out of something that brings us so much joy and comfort? This is where fear comes into play– fear that what we have now, we may not have forever. To combat this fear of loss, we may cling on for dear life– applying pressure in order to feel in control, squeezing so hard that what we love eventually suffocates. Similar to love, fear is complex; it’s been societally ingrained in our minds to fear loss, because to lose is to lack, and a feeling of lack can negatively impact our self-esteem.

The moment we relinquish the need to control, we can acknowledge and appreciate the beauty in that what we think we have cannot actually be “had.”

The most effective way to combat fear of loss is through acceptance. The moment we relinquish the need to control, we can acknowledge and appreciate the beauty in that what we think we have cannot actually be “had.” Whatever will be, will be. A more romantic way to view this is to imagine your loved ones as open air– impossible to capture entirely and flowing freely. Assume the position that no one, not even your partner or family, is obligated to live up to your expectations. (Expectation can be an especially vicious instigator as it tends to lead to disappointment, guilt and anger more often than not.) Recognize that your loved one is an individual, inside and outside of the relationship, and celebrate their sovereignty. Remember that to love without possession is to wholeheartedly root for our loved ones’ happiness, even if that happiness doesn’t include or involve us. There is incomparable value in knowing that every person reserves the right to just exist, including you and your partner.

Loosen your grip. Let it breathe.