Your Myth of Lost Love is the story you created to help you make sense of love. Your myth profoundly impacts the people you choose, the ways you behave in loving relationships, and ultimately, your entire intimacy journey. In this episode, you’ll discover your own personal Myth of Lost Love–and the deep Core Gifts at the heart of this myth.
Understanding Your Core Beliefs About Romantic Love
In this episode of the Deeper Dating®, you will discover your myth of lost love, the story that you crafted to help you understand your relationship to love and to the world. Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating® Podcast.
Hello, everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating® Podcast. I’m Ken Page. I’m a psychotherapist, the author of the book, Deeper Dating, and the Cofounder of DeeperDating®.com, a site where single people can meet based on the principles of dignity, respect, kindness and inspiration. Today, I’m going to talk about the myth of lost love, which are the inner stories that we tell ourselves, that shape the entire way we approach our romantic lives. You’ll learn about what your myth of lost love is. Every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing, and heal your life in the process because the skills of dating are the skills of intimacy, and the skills of intimacy are the skills of life.
If you want to learn more about the Deeper Dating® path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. If you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get free gifts. You’ll also have access there to all of the transcripts of all of my episodes. I also want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice. Finally, if you like what you’re hearing and learning here, it would be a wonderful gift if you could subscribe and even review this podcast. That’s a tremendous thing. The reviews that people have given have just been so beautiful and I’m really appreciative. Let’s jump in.
Myth Of Lost Love
Today, I’m going to be talking about what I call the myth of lost love, which is the deep story that we tell ourselves about who we are, who the world is, and how we need to behave in order to protect ourselves, and be loved. I call it a myth because it has an ancient depth. It touches our heartstrings in a very deep way. There are universal themes, but it’s also very personal. Like a myth, it shapes the way we approach our lives, and in this case, our romantic lives and our entire intimacy life. What we’re going to do in this episode is I’m going to talk about the different components of the myth of lost love. I’m going to ask you some questions as we go, and you can just quickly think of what your response is. By the end of this episode, you will have a much richer understanding of your myth of lost love and how it shapes your romantic life, and also where it came from.
There’s a lot of rich stuff here. You’re also going to be learning how your myth of lost love points to you, what your deepest core gifts are that you have not yet been able to embrace. It’s exciting and profound stuff. This is going to be a two-part episode. In the second episode, we’ll be talking about how we can change the story of our myth of lost love. To have it finally become a story that works and heals us, and adds to the love in our life instead of ultimately subtracting from it, and that includes self-love. In this episode, we’re going to talk about what the myth of lost love is. You’re going to identify yours, and in that, you will get glimpses of your deepest core gifts, which lie at the heart of your entire intimacy journey.
The act of suppressing hidden parts of us is an act of quiet violence against our deepest being. Click To Tweet
The Story We Tell Ourselves As Children
Each one of us has created this myth of lost love, which is a life-defining story that we use to explain why we were not loved the way we needed to be when we were children, why we were not loved the way we needed to be by our romantic partners, and what we can do to repair that pain or protect ourselves from experiencing it again. This myth comes alive whenever we’re in a relationship that really matters to us, and it can stir us down to our very core. I’m going to share a story, and that story is going to illustrate some of the different points of the myth of lost love.
Why We Deserve Punishment
The first dynamic in the myth of lost love that we create is the story we tell ourselves as children, about the ways in which the world is an unsafe and unloving place.
Debbie’s story. Debbie’s dad divorced her mother when Debbie was about seven years old. She was a single parent with four older boys, and one very sensitive little girl to raise. Her mom just didn’t have the time or the energy for her. She seemed angry a lot of the time. Debbie’s many attempts to show love to her mother were sometimes returned, but often they were rebuffed or ignored completely. Debbie really only remembered a few times when her mother showed her real affection. Sometimes, her mom would actually humiliate her when Debbie showed her need, her longing for connection, her soft side. As a result, Debbie ended up experiencing the world as a place that had an essential coldness, and where the warmth of real love was mostly unattainable. She developed a myth of lost love to explain why her mother’s love was being denied to her. She came to the conclusion that the world was a cold place that rewarded need and vulnerability with humiliation, and rewarded the lack of need and the lack of vulnerability with success.
That’s the first part of how we come to see and understand the world based on our experiences. You might want to take a minute to think about that. We’re going to get to this one more deeply in a moment, but what are the parts of you that you felt were not treasured or honored at home, in your deep love relationships, or in the world in general? What did that teach you or tell you? What did you decide about the world because of that? Some people decide that the world is a cold place and shut down in particular ways, and protect themselves because they hold onto a sense of reality. Other people, for very different reasons, can experience abuse, neglect and those same things. What they need to hold on to is a sense of goodness of the world.
Even if it’s a losery, those people approach the world with a kind of naiveté. Not believing that someone would hurt them even if their gut instincts are this person isn’t safe. These are just some of the ways that we create a myth. That second myth is a myth of, “If I’m good enough, if I’m kind enough, if I’m loving enough, this other person will be different.” My mom is a Holocaust survivor. She had that. Her thing when she was eight years old was, “If the Nazis could see my goodness, they would never hurt me.” There is cruelty, unkindness, and vast amounts of pain and suffering in the world. Each of us develops a story.
Second, the myth of lost love explains why we deserve this punishment. On one hand, we believe something about the world. On the other hand, deep down, we believe something about us. That’s what kids do. They make it all about themselves. That’s what children do. As a kid, Debbie had no way to know that her mom was the one with the big issue here. She loved her, and so she explained her mom’s coldness in a way that made sense to her, “It’s my fault. I’m unlovable.” What it came down to for Debbie was, “I need too much and people hate that.” She grew up feeling that somehow, she was the reason that she couldn’t find real love. Our myth of lost love continues this path of damage, our negative myth, by telling us exactly what makes us unworthy of love.
We do that to ourselves in such crippling terms. We hone in on our most human traits. Our most vulnerable traits, our traits of need, our traits that were shamed or ignored, or our traits that are somehow immature, not refined, or not socially skilled. We blame ourselves and tell ourselves that those are the reasons why we lose love. It taught Debbie that vulnerability and emotional intensity were humiliating traits that made her unlovable, in a world that tended to step on those parts of her, and of ourselves.
Here’s another really rich question. What are the parts of you that somewhere deep down inside, you believe if you really show them to a person, you’re deeply intimate with, they’re going to be turned off? They’re going to turn away from you. Somehow, they’re going to betray you. Somehow, they’re going to pull the rug out from under you. Somehow, they’re going to profoundly disappoint you, or you with these traits, you are so profoundly going to disappoint them, that they’re not going to be available to you. Now, this is a rich and amazing question for a lot of reasons, which I’ll talk about in a minute, but take a minute. You could even pause the recording if you want just to think about, what are those qualities that you tell yourself “This is the reason why people don’t end up being attracted to me romantically, sexually, or why the world doesn’t want to hear my message, or hear my creativity, or appreciate or relish my gifts.”? Take a minute just to think about that.
I have lots to say about this. The big thing that I want to say is that these qualities, the ones you just listed, and I’m not talking about events in your life that you feel, “I’m ashamed of this. I’m embarrassed by this.” I’m not talking about events. I’m talking about parts of your being, parts of your nature. Some examples would be, a deep longing for love, a need to depend on people, and be able to really deeply lean on them. A passion for truth, an intense sensitivity, a deep quality of humility, a fiercely passionate kind of fiery attribute to your nature, a truth-telling. These are just some examples. Whatever it is for you, these are core gifts. Meaning they are parts of you that can never be amputated. Ultimately, if you try to airbrush them or people-please them away, you will pay because they’re parts of your soul. The act of suppressing those parts is an act of quiet violence against our deepest being.
This is such an amazing thing, but the things we tell ourselves are the reasons why people can’t love us. This is the therapy journey that, as a therapist, I take people on, that, is a very extended process in many cases to have the depth of realization come alive about this. Those qualities that we’re most ashamed of are qualities that are connected to our deepest core gifts, and end up being our saviors in life and in love when we claim them and embrace them. When we don’t, we end up sexually and romantically attracted to people who also can’t treasure those parts of us.
Now, are those parts of us demanding? Yes. They’re like being a genius. Genius demands a lot of fuel. It demands a lot of understanding. It demands a lot of spaciousness, a lot of creativity, a lot of challenge, and a lot of work. These qualities demand that of us. They demand it of the people who love us, and the people who love us are often not willing to do that work, which is why our salvation comes from finding the people who treasure those very aspects of us. In a nutshell, I think that’s the greatest secret of self-love and romantic love.
Treasure the hidden parts of ourselves, name them, identify them, and look for people who in essential ways, love those parts. Click To Tweet
How To Protect And Defend Ourselves
The third part of the myth of lost love is that it tells us how to protect and defend ourselves in an unsafe world. As a kid, Debbie had to learn how to be quiet in the face of her mom’s anger. She had to be the best little girl in the world. The anger that took root in Debbie as a child came into full bloom in Debbie as an adult. She still wanted to be the best girl in the world, but she vowed not to be humiliated again. Every time she felt vulnerable, even if she felt afraid of being unloved, in other words, she felt vulnerable and she didn’t express it. She was afraid that if she did, she would be hurt. She would mount a kind of preemptive strike. She would have a sudden kind of prickliness or over the top anger, and it would undermine and destroy each new budding relationship for her. Now, there’s a few pieces here. There is her need, her vulnerability, and her soft heart. There is the ferocity of her self-protection and pride.
All of which are cherished, precious, and essential parts of us, and Debbie in this case. Here is the thing that is also so rich and powerful. It’s that because these core gifts are so demanding, and because they get us in trouble, we try to leave them behind so we could be normal and like everyone else, and be loved and be whatever it is that we think we need to be, which never works and bites us in the butt in an essential, profound, and ongoing way, but because we leave these parts of us behind, they don’t grow up. There’s a quality of immaturity that is often stuck with them. Part of the work of reclaiming these gifts is not just thinking, “I have these fabulous gifts, and anyone who doesn’t get them in whatever form they’re in, just doesn’t love me.”
That’s kind of an exaggeration because we need to teach these gifts how to grow up in the world, how to have legs, how to express themselves with more courage, with more kindness, and with more integration. That comes with the first step, that is unequivocally to treasure these parts of ourselves, to name them, to identify them, and to look for people who in an essential way, love those parts of us, but then the work does become to help those parts of ourselves grow up, and become more mature, and be able to stand as entities, as part of our mission in the world.
Until we do that, our myth of lost love instructs us in how to protect and defend ourselves in an unsafe world. Even though we know that those parts of Debbie were core gifts, and that her efforts to suppress them were not going to work, she didn’t know that at the time that these were central parts of her being. She knew she hadn’t found the love that she wanted, and that the life she had dreamed of was passing her by. She didn’t know what to do about it. In therapy, she began to name those core gifts. She discovered that there was a really important similarity with almost all her past boyfriends. None of them were comfortable with her vulnerability or with their own vulnerability. In fact, they all made her feel ashamed of it. Now with that, she had a blueprint behind her, what I call attractions of deprivation.
She saw that again and again, the people she was most wildly attracted to were the people in front of whom she felt like she needed to hide these parts of herself to get them to really love her and commit, but it never worked. She couldn’t hide them well enough so she felt like a failure, and they didn’t love her fully or fully enough. That same pattern happened again and again. She began to realize that the pain she had felt in past relationships was the pain of a gift that had never been loved into fullness. She had lost all this time trying to get people to accept parts of her that she didn’t acceptm and they were not the kind of people who could accept and treasure. At this point, her powerful will and her pride lined up behind a new goal. That that was the only kind of man that she would settle for. She began to date and surround herself with people who, in an essential way, valued her vulnerability, and were not terrified by her need. These were hallmarks and foundations of changing her life, and being able to find and nourish and keep love.
Take a minute to think about what your ways are to protect yourself in this world. It might be avoidance of deeper intimacy. It might be choosing unavailable people. What are the ways that you have done this? In our next episode, we’re going to talk about how to change our myth of lost love, but with the information you have now, you can begin to think about the treasured parts of you that you felt like you had to neglect, ignore or airbrush in order to find love, which in fact are the keys to self-love and the creation of love in our lives. Thank you so much for listening, and I look forward to seeing you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating® Podcast.