Can you feel loved without feeling known?
Part 9 in the What love is all about series
Love is all about our mutual embrace IN being known. In the words of this great song (and here’s the fabulous Sarah Vaughan tearing it up):
Sometimes I'm happy, sometimes I'm blue
My disposition, it depends on you
I never mind the rain from the skies
If I can find the sun in your eyes
Sometimes I love you, sometimes I hate you
But when I hate you it's 'cause I love you
That's how I am so what can I do
I'm happy when I'm with you
So okay. I know you, and I know that sometimes you hate me, because let’s face it that what it’s like to live with me. But you love me too and I accept the package and I accept you.
That’s the point:
Being loved without being known means knowing we’re not really loved.
Being known and then not being loved is the ultimate rejection.
But being known and being loved is the greatest gift we can give to one another.
So how do we sort of DO that?
Well, you gotta understand what the deal is when it comes to love, or else you’re gonna fail at it. And here’s the deal:
There’s no love without the full truth of who you are coming out and without that truth being accepted and embraced as a whole. That, in a way, is the ultimate joy of love: being embraced in the truth of who you are.
The truth will come out. Time and circumstances will bring it out.
The truth of who I am is a gift to you, and your receiving this truth is a gift to me.
We have GOT to get past knowing each other for who we want each other to be, and see each other for who we really are. Yeah, you’d like to see me as infinitely wise, patient, and giving. I’m not. You might hate me for the ways I’m not what you'd like me to be, but hopefully you’ll love me for the ways I am. We’re going to have to live with that.
A bad memory will always be read as not caring. That’s just a fact. If you “forget” that I don’t like yellow apples, I'll think that to that degree you don’t care about knowing me, and so don’t care about loving me. At the same time, we’re flawed and fallible, and we also have to know that we’re creatures who will forget. But still. Too much forgetting, or when it’s one person who does way more than their share of the forgetting...that’s a problem.
If to love you is to know you, then I have an actual duty—fasten your seatbelts—to be interested in you, curious about you, caring about what’s going on with you. If our time together has made us bored to tears with each other so the desire to know each other is on its last legs, we have to think about why we’re together. Otherwise, it’s time to show interest. As a way of showing love.
But remember, since love means that you are the keeper of sensitive knowledge, you can never ever use it against your partner. By throwing it up in their face. Or revealing it to anyone else, even your best friend.
Finally, the most important truths we share—more and more so the longer we’re together—should make a difference to how we live together. I say, “You know, more and more I’ve come to feel bathroom time is private time for me.” Wow. Okay. This is a piece of knowledge, but it’s incomplete unless I understand more. What do you mean by “private”? How is it that you want me to act on this? How will you know I’m doing what you want in this area? Ah!, so you don’t even want me to knock on the door!, unless it’s an emergency. Got it. I need to understand that these days your private time is super important to you, with all you got going on.
And so, you see, with knowing each other we can and will feel more and more loved. And if you should ever get stuck trying to get your needs met in spite of all this love and understanding, our book Why Couples Fight will give you what you need to save the day.