The Disney trap

Joey Garcia

I love my girlfriend, but I’m not in love with her. I miss her when we’re not together, but I don’t feel the way I have in other (admittedly short-term) relationships. She’s smart and pretty, and the sex is fantastic. I admire her, but I just don’t feel much for her. It’s a problem that I’ve had in other relationships and in life in general. I’ve left solid relationships because I met someone else who I fell hard for. The new girl was never as interested in me; it never lasted. I know my current relationship could last, but I am afraid I’ll get bored and cheat. She doesn’t deserve that. So, what does love feel like?

Didn’t you get indoctrinated when you were a kid? You know, the cartoons with some fluffy forest or farm critter going about his day when he happens to glance over and see the fluffy mate of his dreams? His eyes pop out of his head, his heart thumps out of his chest, and he levitates while hearts and stars crown his head. He is in love! How about the Disney movies that prove love (and the promise of happily ever after) occurs only after a man rescues a woman? That’s what love feels like, right? Those are the emotional markers, right? Wrong! And therein lies your confusion.

We’re all imprinted as children to believe that infatuation is love, but infatuation is a sex-centered, emotional rollercoaster. Love grows slowly. It’s steady and honest and accepts all of you, not just the good (or pretty) parts. Attraction—which is not just based on appearance—can easily turn to love. Infatuation can mutate into love only with a tremendous amount of work and will by both partners.

When two people are infatuated, they argue a lot and enjoy a lot of sex because they need constant stimulation (negative or positive) to feel connected to each other. If you feel little, it’s likely that you are depressed. And if you are depressed and lack the understanding that you have the power to help yourself (through prescribed medication, cognitive behavioral therapy and revamping your life), you will seek quick fixes (like affairs) that bring chaos (negative stimulation) to your life.

So, you’re at a crossroads. You can continue your pattern of disrupting solid relationships to jolt yourself out of apathy. Or you can channel your energy into dislodging the apathy and creating a peaceful life with the woman who loves you. If you choose the latter, you will eventually discover that being in love is a choice made in every moment, not an adrenaline high based on trying to keep someone who is not interested in you.

I’ve just dumped another emotionally unavailable guy. Why do I date guys who are not into me?

At the core of your beliefs about yourself is this lie: “I’m unlovable.” You’re itching to ditch it, but instead of investigating the belief and challenging it, you’ve opted to search outside of yourself for someone to rescue you from it. So, you pass through one relationship after another, hoping to find someone who will love you, the prince who will kiss your wound and heal it forever. Instead, you repeat the same relationship pattern because that core belief is still in charge of your choices. If a guy’s not into you, it proves you’re unlovable. That means you get to be right (your need to be right must be another core belief) and unlovable.

I suggest beginning every day with an inventory of all the ways you know you are worthy and loving. Then spend the day living the experience of true love with yourself.

Meditation of the week
I was having coffee by myself at Starbucks near Mercy hospital, reading the newspaper and loving life. A group of 60-something women saw another woman, perhaps a decade younger, alone at a table nearby, and one recognized her. “Hey,” the older woman called out, “do you want to join us? No one should sit alone!” The invited woman said no; she was fine. Then she looked over at me and shook her head. Sitting there at our separate tables, we dissolved into laughter together. What are you afraid of?

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