“How do you know when you’re in love?” Sherri asked me. She was in a new relationship, one that seemed, for now at least, much healthier and kinder than her previous ones. But now this question rose to the surface.
If those previous relationships, when she thought herself in love, seemed now so wrong, did Sherri really know what love was and had she ever experienced?
A lot of us have those thoughts.
I have fallen in love and when it’s ended, I’ve looked back and wondered, was that love at all? Or is this new feeling with this new man ‘real love’?
Years ago, as I struggled through devastating depression from a break-up that in many ways broke me, I told Carolyn*, my counsellor, that I had loved that man. We had been together for only a month or two but my love was as real to me as the river flowing through the city where I now live.
She laughed aloud saying, “Lucretia, you can’t fall in love that quickly. That wasn’t love. Love takes time to grow and take hold.”
Her incredulous response showed how far I had strayed from her reality. She later told me, post-session, that she was separating from her husband. Did that create her cynicism or had it always been there? She helped me process my grief but our perspectives on love remained in opposite hemispheres.
How do you know when you’re in love? For me, love has sometimes created fear. When I’ve said those words, “I love you”, I have cried for the fear of it – the vulnerability of saying those three words has felt devastating because in that moment I feel like I have given my power away. I have given them the power to hurt me and the thought of the possible pain that might result has terrified me.
Other times I have been in love and it’s felt like freedom. When you haven’t felt it for a while – months, years – to realise it is still possible, well, that is joyful and heart-expanding. The man in question may not even feel the same in return but that in some ways doesn’t matter. It is more important that I feel it and it opens me up to feel more.
How do you know when you’re in love?
It’s not cerebral. You don’t think love. Years ago, a friend told me that you could choose who you love. It was a conscious choice that she decided, or not. Her determination that she could control something so ephemeral as love was, to my mind, ludicrous and insane. You cannot choose who to love. Love visits of her own accord. And when she leaves, you cannot force her to return. Ask anyone who has chosen to leave a partner they once adored with their whole heart. When love departs you can look for it under every rock and in every basement, behind the tins on the shelf and in every crevasse of your life. She may hide for a while and return, rarely. But if she has gone, you cannot force her return and you cannot force your heart by sheer strength of will to comply with your mind’s demands.
No. Love is not a logical determination and it takes many forms. It can be violent in its intensity, throwing you down and dragging you far from shore, far from what you believed and who you thought you were. It is often uncomfortable because it is a risk: what if it’s not reciprocated? What if he leaves? What if he cheats?
You can try to resist but your heart will want what it wants and won’t be denied by rational reasoning or sensible caution.
Love can creep up on you, springing out yelling, “Surprise!!” like friends at a birthday party. You will feel disoriented. How did I get here? Can I get out? And then, hang on, I’m in.
I have been lost and found by love, destroyed and created through love, expanded and restricted by love. It is explosive, gentle, violent, passionate, quiet, confident, nervous. It is all those things and more. I have been in love many times and they have all been real and different and all valuable as part of my life’s journey to discover the person I am constantly becoming. Whatever your experience of love has been, it was real and you did feel it. It didn’t look like what anyone else thought it should, but it’s not supposed to. Take what you learned from that love and bring it forward with you to the next love. Most importantly, know the feeling was true and it was yours. And that is how you know you were in love, because you felt it.
If you have to ask, “Am I in love?” then you are not yet fully in it. Love may be outside the door, or she may not visit at all. But you will know when she comes.
Whether that love will result in a healthy relationship, is a question for another day. *all names have been changed.
If you have a question about love, managing life, relationships, living the life you want (not the life others think you should live) and making choices, visit DearLucretia.com and ASK ME ANYTHING. It’s time to take the filters off and have a real conversation about life.
As someone who writes about love, sex and relationships, I’m a keen observer of how people connect romantically, sexually and intimately. Over the past decade alone, this landscape has transformed with new and evolving types of relationships, sexual experiences and connections being openly discussed, attempted, abandoned and pursued like never before.
I believe this type of exploration and boundary testing is a fundamental part of humanity’s evolution. If you are a consenting adult, go forth in whatever way feels right for you.
However, often it seems that when we are in an intimate connection with another, we respond to their needs and requirements rather than checking in with our own. Women in particular often fall into this trap but I have observed the same behaviour in some men too.
Many years ago, when I interviewed people of all ages about the concept of partnership, most had never sat down and asked themselves what it meant to them as an individual. What did they believe was important in an intimate partnership?
When given the space to contemplate this question with someone who had no interest or agenda in judging their response, it was amazing how quickly they could share this fundamental truth. Many surprised themselves with the clarity this realisation brought with it.
Those interviews are currently queued up and await the finessing required to become a book. It’s on my to-do list.
Meanwhile, I look around and am concerned about some of the contorted relationships people willingly enter and stay in, even when it’s clear they are designed to accommodate their partner’s needs, rather than their own. This is an unhealthy choice that will not deliver alignment with self.
If you have the time, I’d encourage you to sit down in a quiet spot with just you, a pen and some paper. Ask yourself, what does partnership mean to you? Then write down your answer. Once you’ve done this, read over your words and see if they line up with your current relationship dynamic. If not, there is clearly something you need to look at.
“Maybe some relationships are so strong your Soul can never forget them.” I wish I could claim these words as my own but they are not. They belong to my wonderful friend @Shannynsteel and were uttered this morning while we walked through a nearby forest.
We were talking about love and soul connections and I was musing on the topic of past life hangovers – this is how I describe instances when we reconnect with someone strongly in this lifetime and feel it deeply because we have done so in previous lifetimes as well.
This has certainly happened to me a lot and to be honest, it often creates far more drama, sadness and confusion than a romantic heart might want to believe.
If you haven’t experienced these types of connections then I don’t necessarily recommend them unless you are prepared to pass through a ring of emotional fire and explore parts of your psyche that will make no logical sense at all.
Metaphysicians such as Carolyn Myss talk of souls drinking from a river of forgetfulness (or words to that effect) before they return for their next life in human form. Firstly, they make agreements with other souls about what they will help each other learn, then they drink to forget those agreements and finally they are born here. This seems a very sensible and wise approach considering the many lives we have traversed before.
But what happens when you’re someone like me who has past life hangovers? Did I not drink enough from the river? Or is it part of my lesson to sometimes straddle the divide between this and previous lives?
I’m still wrangling with these questions.
Past life hangovers have manifested in my intimate relationships far more often than I would like.
While I feel an incredible intensity and depth with these men, I am usually unaware of the past life connection while I’m involved with them. But hindsight inevitably directs a blazing light on the truth of it all.
In one relationship, I found myself saying a particular phrase of love to the man and placing my hand directly in the middle of his chest while I said it. It was curious because the words and the way they were spoken were not my usual way of expressing myself. As that relationship crumbled to the ground, I had a vision of him and I in medieval times and saw myself place my hand in the middle of his chest, just like I had done only days before. He and I had done this dance more than once in other lives.
In another connection (this time with a man much younger than me), we were powerfully drawn to each other but it caused us both feelings of confusion. It was never consummated although I suspect we both thought about taking it further. Much later, I realised that while we had been having one of our more volatile conversations, I had looked at his face and seen a much older man – not the young man he currently is.
In another situation, I found myself remembering a man I had loved very deeply. Every time I thought of him, I saw his big blue eyes looking straight at me. When we reconnected much later, I realised his eyes were another colour entirely and it felt, for the first time, like I was seeing the man fully in this lifetime, rather than the one I had known in a previous life.
Past life hangovers had wreaked chaos in my personal life. Clearly my soul recognises them and they recognise me – that is why we are drawn together. But then it disintegrates into a mess because our souls want to stay connected but our paths are to be separate this time around.
I am getting better at spotting these patterns earlier these days but it has certainly been a strong influence in my love life over the years.
Did I not drink enough at the river of forgetfulness or is it just that some relationships are so strong you can never forget them?
I’ve been thinking about love today. This is unsurprising because I’ve been working on my next play and of course, like most of my writing, it is about love and all that goes with it – the good, the bad and the ugly.
The question of whole-heartededly showing up for love in a partnership is coming up and I wonder if many people still believe in that concept.
I see so many relationships that are not based on whole-hearted love. Instead they rely on obligation, financial security, fear of being alone, convenience, public image and even that old deluded adage about staying together for the children’s sake. Why people are still using that last excuse is beyond me – isn’t it abundantly clear that when people stay together for the wrong reasons they sentence their children to an adulthood where they will repeat and then try to break those negative relationship habits modelled by their parents?
But I digress. Back to whole-hearted love.
Whole-hearted love to me, means showing up openly and vulnerably. It means coming together with one other person and connecting in a way that is sacred to you both.
My play explores this concept of whole-hearted love and more controversially, love in open relationships. I have to say, when it comes to whole-hearted love, I find the open and polyamorous dynamic problematic.
To be clear, have sex with whoever you want, with however many people you want and of whatever gender you desire. As long as it’s between two consenting adults – who cares. It is certainly none of my business or anyone else’s for that matter.
But it’s the whole-hearted piece that plays on my mind.
Whole-heartedly loving someone else, to me at least, means showing up for one person and proudly too. It’s not about giving a bit here then giving a bit over there and then returning back here. That isn’t whole-hearted love.
And before you say, but it’s just sex and only a physical act, I have to say no – that’s not all it is.
You can’t get any closer to someone energetically than when you have sex – there is a merging of your energetic fields and when you detach, part of that other person’s energy stays on you. Then you take it with you when you return to your other lover. Then you end up with someone else’s energy in your bed with both of you.
Is that whole-hearted love – to carry energy from one to the next and contaminate the sacred space between you?
I can’t believe that it is.
This brings me to my next question – do we not desire whole-hearted love anymore? Is it considered a mute point in society? Is it redundant and perhaps unneeded? Is it old-fashioned?
I can hear that song playing in my head by Iva Davies when he sings,
“I don’t know where to be begin Don’t want to hear it again I don’t believe anymore This is all I know I know I’ve heard it before.”
Have we simply stopped believing that whole-hearted love is possible?
Now, I’m not saying I believe whole-hearted love is easily found or easily kept. Sometimes it arrives for a limited period of time then disappears as quickly as it came. I’ve lived long enough in the world to understand that whole-hearted love doesn’t guarantee longevity.
But I do believe it demands through its very nature, exclusivity.
Part of me wonders if some people have given up on it altogether because they don’t believe they deserve it in the first place. If you don’t believe you deserve something then why would you expect it? Certainly, from my own personal observations and conversations, it’s clear that some people agree to polyamorous partnerships because their partner convinces them it is necessary for their relationship to survive. So one gives in to the other because they fear losing them altogether.
I even read an horrendous article recently that gave instructions on how to convince your “unwilling partner” to change their mind – it read like a narcissist’s handbook by encouraging the person to persistently undermine their unwilling partner’s values and beliefs until they finally gave in. I found this horrifying and deeply disturbing.
Now I’m definitely not suggesting this is how all people approach polyamory with their partners. But I have noticed people who give in or are pressured to be in these types of relationships because they fear losing their partners are devastated as a result. The impacts on their self-esteem, feelings of self-worth and being deserving of love can be emotionally catastrophic.
Sex is an amazing and wonderful thing. It can be liberating, fun, stress-relieving and great exercise. It can also be a divinely intimate and sacred act between two people who are showing up whole-heartedly for each other and that connection.
I can’t help but feel sex in a polyamorous dynamic, can’t co-exist easily or at all with whole-hearted love.
A while ago, someone said I was brave to go my own way and not have children when society puts so much pressure on women to do so. She met her comment sincerely but I soon disabused her of the notion that I had made my decision as a form of conscious rebellion against the establishment.
I am a feminist certainly and proud that I don’t fit into the traditional female mode. But I did want children once.
I was married to a man in my 20s but I never wanted them with him.
Then in my 30s I found myself single by choice and occasionally yes, I did think about it but not in any way that I was willing to take concerted action on.
A couple of months shy of my 42nd birthday, I met a man I truly thought was the one – the one for me. I fell completely in love. He was younger and it soon became clear that not having children was a deal breaker for him. He wanted them but at that point in the relationship, I wasn’t sure.
We took two weeks apart for me to work things out. He didn’t want either of us to see anyone else during that time. He said he loved me. He said he was devastated and didn’t know what to do.
I saw a powerful energy healer during that break and through that work I quickly realised I wanted children. I wanted them very much and I wanted them with the man I loved.
Imagine my surprise when I conveyed this news to him and he didn’t believe me. He knew me to be a woman who didn’t lie and yet, he said he couldn’t believe it. He said, “Even if you mean it now, how do I know you won’t change your mind later.”
He ended it and I never saw him again.
He never acknowledged me again. It was as if I no longer breathed. Perhaps I had never really existed at all for him. He certainly found it very easy to deny any love he had felt for me.
I fell into an abyss of grief that took years to recover from. I was suicidal at one point with feelings of loss so deep I thought there was no bottom to the well I was drowning in. I just kept sinking.
Eventually, I did float to the surface and find my feet in the shallows again. But by then it was too late for children. My fertility ship had already drawn anchor and wind was filling its sails. I wasn’t in a position to do it alone financially and I didn’t want to do it without the one I loved anyway. So that was that.
Later I asked a powerful psychic why the Universe would treat me so cruelly. Why would she finally give me the understanding I wanted children of my own at such an age only to rip that possibility from my hands.
She said I had needed the healing to unleash my creativity – a woman’s creativity is born from her womb and the energy healing I’d done had cleared the blockages. I could not do what I’m here to do, create what I am here to create, write my books and so on, without that shift occurring.
I don’t mind telling you, the whole thing seemed very cruel indeed. And I was not gracefully accepting in the face of it. I raged at the light.
But the creativity surely did flow more strongly after that. I wrote extensively about the relationship and break-up in prose before being called back to write it in poetry, of all things. More than 230 poems resulted, all written within about a year. I was on the edge of publishing that work when Corona hit. The Universe has her own timing in mind again it seems.
Someone asked the other day how I get along with my Spirit Guides. The truth is, I’ve had a troubled relationship with them at times. They guided me back to that man twice when I thought about leaving, before I got in too deep emotionally. But they urged me to return. I know now he and I had unfinished business from several past lives and the unleashing of my creativity was all part of the plan in this one.
In my darker moments at the time I wasn’t always grateful for that.
Our guides are here to look after our best interests and help us to learn what our Souls are here to learn. Through that relationship I learned I was clairaudient, I learned I could remotely view someone without even trying. I learned there is no stronger psychic connection than between two people who are bound through the heart. I learned I have the ability to see past lives and see those same patterns repeating in this one.
I learned that Souls have free will as well as lessons to be learned. So you can only plot your way forward with the knowledge you have in this moment until something or someone chooses something different.
None of it makes sense and yet it also makes perfect sense too.
As a psychic channel I feel things deeply and that isn’t always easy. I also see a lot more than sometimes others would like because I can’t simply turn away from a Soul’s truth when I see it in front of me. This makes it difficult for people to be around me if they wish to hide from themselves.
When I help people by using my gifts whether it’s a friend struggling with a problem or a client struggling with direction, I always come back to one inescapable thing – what does their Soul want to do? What is their truth? And then how can we peel back all the stories and energetic blocks that get in the way of it.
It’s powerful work and people need to be ready for it. But, oh, when they are, that is when the magic happens because anything is possible.
In past lives I have been burned at the stake, pursued, murdered and lived in fear of my gifts. In this lifetime, I have walked through metaphorical fires many times when it comes to the truth and my psychic gifts.
Nothing happens by mistake. There are no coincidences and it was no coincidence that I met that man all those years ago. It was no accident that he broke me in fundamental ways so I could rebuild myself in a different form.
It was no mistake that my creativity has flourished since.
Whatever challenge you’re facing right now, it is not a mistake. It is part of your lesson. A lesson your Soul signed up for.
If you need help to navigate your way forward, get in touch. You don’t have to do it alone, I’ve been there and I know the road out.
Can you remember a time when you gave up on something you loved or dreamed about? It might have been when you were a kid, or a teenager or as an adult. I want you to think about when you chose to stop going for that dream or doing that job or activity that you loved. Regardless of the circumstances, there was a moment when you chose to let it go.
Maybe some other kids made fun of you for being different, so you gave it up. Maybe a teacher said you weren’t good enough, so you gave it up. Maybe someone told you that it would be too hard or maybe impossible, so you gave it up. Maybe you had a family to provide for, so you gave it up.
Can you see that moment in your mind’s eye? Can you remember how it felt?
When I look back, I can see a few of those moments too. The one that stands out tonight as I write this post, is the moment I realised that if I was going to be with my husband then I would probably never work overseas. He was perfectly happy staying where he was and we were married and I loved him. At the time, my choice seemed obligatory and not a real choice at all. If I wanted my relationship then I had to give up the exciting dream that beckoned to me.
But it was me who chose. I could have gone for six months and then returned, but I didn’t (I wasn’t brave enough to take that risk on my own). I could have left him, but I didn’t (that came years later when our paths were definitely and permanently no longer running in parallel).
I chose not to chase that dream.
Over the past 13 years, since my marriage ended, I have done a lot of travel. I guess you could say I’ve been making up for lost time. I even worked remotely for clients while I was in Italy last year, so I guess you could say I finally realised my dream after all. Does that mean we all eventually get where we’re meant to go? I’m not sure.
I know I’ve come a long way from that 20-something young woman who was too scared to go for what she really wanted. I also know that the love I’m seeking these days won’t require me to give up what I love and dream of. Compromise in a relationship is one thing, but giving up on your dreams and the things you love permanently is a choice I’m no longer willing to make.
Life will always throw us curve balls. Sometimes we have to defer things and put them off for a while until it’s a better time. I know this. But the danger is when we choose to make those decisions to align with other people’s expectations, or when we think we should just be more sensible, more practical and [insert all the other reasons we tell ourselves why we can’t have what we truly desire and deserve].
I hope that when you read this post you will remember that thing you loved or dreamt of. I also hope you will choose to find a way to reach for it again because the real cost of giving up what you love is always too high.
Lucretia is an author, psychic channel and transformational teacher who helps women reach for what they love. Her three-month, personalised mentoring programs help women like you claim their Intuitive Power and Live Their Soul’s Mission. Contact Lucretia at email@example.com for more information. You can also find more of her work onFacebookandInstagram