What does love equal to you?

With Valentine’s Day coming up, love is on everyone’s mind. For those with partners, it might look something like, depending on where you are at, “Am I with the right one?” and for those who are on their own, it might be, “When am I going to meet my partner?” and “Why aren’t they here yet?” (For those of you happily married, good for you! Keep reading, though, as this post may still apply to you or even how you show up for others!)

I am hosting a class in Chicago about really “Living Our Love Life”, and it got me thinking about how we internalize what love is and the love we receive in our childhoods.

To understand this better, it’s important to look at how your parents showed up in your childhood and what you made this mean about what love equaled.

For instance, did you grow up with critical parents? This might mean you made love equal to criticism. (I.e. – Criticizing someone is loving them.) While this might sound crazy, it would have been very easy to take this on and then bring this into your everyday relationships without true consciousness around why you show up this way. Of course, too, the people you’re in relationship with may not know this model of love, which in essence can end up pushing them away.

Another common one is that love is earned. How many of us grew up thinking we had do something to be loved and that we weren’t good enough just being ourselves?

And, what about that love equals not showing up? At first glance, this might make you go, “Whaaat???”, but if you had a parent that maybe wasn’t around much, but you adored them despite this, or even because of this (I.e. – Their illusiveness drew you in and helped you put them on a pedestal because they weren’t around for you to see their humanness (including their weaknesses, faults and mistakes).), it might have been easy to make this conclusion. Even if you knew what they were doing was wrong, you might have taken in energy that draws this same type of person to you in your relationships.

Some other common ones to look at can include if you have always wanted to be rescued in relationship (I.e. – “Once I get married, I’ll be happy or be able to do what I want to do.”) or if you have some belief around your relationship needing to be perfect. Maybe you even put this out there to your friends and family and don’t share the “bad” stuff.

So, after you’ve looked at this, it’s important to look at the type of people you’re drawing into your life as well as how these people are treating you. This may be in your love relationship, but also in your career, family and friendships. Is there a common pattern there where you’re always getting taken advantage and/or your feelings aren’t mattering? Maybe you draw people in that don’t value you the way you would like them to or don’t have healthy boundaries?

Whether any of the above apply to you or you have other love models that apply to you (or you’re not even aware of yet), here are a few things you can do to start to identify and shift your love models, if they’re not working for you.

1. If you aren’t aware of your current relationship patterns, looking for common elements in your relationship dynamics can be a great place to start. As part of this, you can look at how your parents showed up and even ask yourself, “What does love mean to me?” and see what comes up. You may surprise yourself.

2. Once you have a better idea of the above, noticing how this is showing up in your everyday life is key. How do your friends, family, colleagues and significant other show up for you? And, if you’re single, what type of guys/girls are you attracting and how are they treating you as they meet you and get to know you?

3. Once you have the awareness, learning how to stop and breathe when you or your family/friend/colleague/significant other shows up in a similar way can be helpful. Also, knowing how to speak your truth in those moments without being hurtful is extremely powerful. (Definitely feel free to email me with any of your “truth” questions, and I’ll address them on an upcoming Truth Talk Tuesday!)

What does love equal to you? Comment below.