This video and article were created in response to a being asked, “how do I truly let go of a woman?” by a member of our Mentoring Men community.
Your question plucked a heart chord with me – one that needs to be plucked now and then because it reminds me of the profound transformation that has taken place and one I long for you to experience.
Your question hit me, too, because it’s an experience fundamental to the masculine journey.
Nearly all of us will experience it at some point, somewhere between our first crush til our final days. Maybe lots of times.
From age six onward, it seemed like I fell in love with every girl I glanced at.
Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much! I crushed on a lot of young ladies in my childhood.
Within the first week of a new school year, I always seemed to find my gaze deeply drawn to a new female. It was as much a new school year ritual as getting a new box of crayons, two #2 pencils, and a new Trapper Keeper.
I loved the new school year and the feeling of possibility and newness.
Even more, I loved the feeling of “being in love,” or what I now understand to be what the Greeks called Eros.
It felt good. Damn good!
It was exhilarating and exciting and filled my mind with delightful fantasies of all sorts.
It put a spring in my step and made me an inch taller and more courageous.
Being in love made me feel legit!
Why is it so hard to truly let go? What is going on here?
I think most males experience this season of “addicted lover” energy, even more so if we encounter cold and harsh emotional treatment from our mothers or passive disconnection from our fathers.
In my work with men, I’ve noticed that a man’s desire for “the one” seems proportional to his lack of feeling deeply loved, valued, cared for, appreciated, and significant.
Occasionally, I’d experience what I thought was “success” in doing so, only to see them move on eventually.
The dependent person loves anyone who will pamper him and is interested in using eros to replace the emotional and physical support given us originally by our parents.
*Willard Beecher. Beyond Success and Failure: Ways to Self-Reliance and Maturity
When these girls did move away, I was predictably devastated and sorrowful.
It was never very long before my painful sorrow turned to anger, resentment, and rage.
I am confident you’ll feel these soon if you’ve not already.
He is incapable of agape and must fall back on manipulation or violence to enslave the partner on whom he leans.
He loves the person while he is being pampered but turns to violence the moment the pampering is denied him.
Thus the dependent person hates the one he loves.
*Willard Beecher. Beyond Success and Failure: Ways to Self-Reliance and Maturity
I was never violent, not externally, but I definitely experienced this “shift” from what I’d called “love” only days before and was not deep animosity.
This pattern manifested in my life as always looking for a new person to love. Always.
Why do I need even know how to truly let go – Isn’t that why I got married?
As you know, I talk to hundreds of men a year.
Many I meet believe this “addicted lover” energy is just how life is supposed to go.
They believe, too, that “she” is the natural solution for this longing. They tell me stuff like,
“Isn’t this how relationships are supposed to be?” and ask, “What are relationships for then?”
Like me, they have no idea that relationships with women aren’t about transferring our dependency from our parents to someone new.
My life is an excellent example of how ineffective at producing a life of fullness that belief is!, and so is yours, I’d suggest.
Eros binds us as men to an infantile dependency and thwarts us from growing into maturity.
Marriage can’t help what’s not about relationships
To be transparent, this pattern didn’t dissolve with marriage for me – not by a long shot.
It continued to cause me significant turmoil and despair long into my marriage. It was ultimately the catalyst for my undoing and, ultimately, my transformation.
I hope it will be for you too, brother.
I was experiencing what Willard Beecher described by saying, “Our desire to possess becomes a rope that ties us to the object of our desire; it then controls us in our effort to hold on to it.”
Even in my marriage, I needed to feel something from a woman that seemed fleeting and scarce, even in my wife, no matter what she did.
I was always profoundly drawn to the feminine, which is healthy in many ways, but for me, it was enticing to a level that caused a lot of chaos and dysfunction.
It was fuel for immense dissatisfaction and disillusionment.
I’d spend countless hours daydreaming about being with someone else and half-wishing terrible things could happen to make that possible, like my wife passing away or the husbands of other women too.
It’s not a period of life I’m at all proud about. It was a gut-wrenching and ugly time.
Where were all the mentors?
I asked other men about it, who looked at me with blank stares. This led to a lot of shame about this for many years.
This became one of the catalysts for creating Mentoring Men because I was so frustrated with being unable to find authentic, honest, open, and loving guidance I determined that I’d never let the next generations experience likewise.
Now, look… Here I am talking to you (even though you’re older than me 😜)
It was decades before I would understand all this stuff about myself, its impact on my life, and what to do about it.
But all that same pain you’re feeling –the same kind I’d felt every time a woman withdrew from me, led me where I needed to go.
I found the way through it, and it’s all healed. I’m even proud of the scars that resulted. I bet you will be too, Bobby.
I no longer experience the insatiable thirst for the feminine. Zilch.
I’m no longer addicted to “falling in love”.
My life and marriage had to experience a significant amount of pain to get there, but it’s something I wouldn’t trade for any price.
I’d live every moment of it again to get where I am. The treasure I have now cannot be stolen or lost.
My True Need: Self-Reliance
What I ended up discovering was that my actual problem had nothing to do with women, love, sex, attention, or any of that. I had a problem with dependency.
My parents taught me lots of things, but emotional independence and resiliency weren’t among them. I don’t hold it against them. They couldn’t teach me what they didn’t have sorted out.
I learned to see how I’d never known how to grow past the possessive neediness that dependency creates, so I didn’t know how to move onward to emotional maturity and self-reliance.
I was like one of those monkeys that stick their hands in the coconut trap and are stuck because they won’t let go of the object inside.
I didn’t know that I had been confusing Eros and Agape.
The intense feelings and emotions toward others that I had always thought were “love” was just neediness. I didn’t understand my value, worth, and significance, and what I thought was love was just those dependencies meeting an opportunity to get them most efficiently.
Eros is prone to all forms of pathological distortions, and it easily forms possessive-dependent relationships on any level.
Willard Beecher. Beyond Success and Failure: Ways to Self-Reliance and Maturity
By happenstance, my interests led me to an interest in homesteading, where I began to explore self-reliance in more material and tangible ways.
The seeds of self-reliance were being sown as a principal, yet I didn’t yet know how to apply them to matters of my heart – only things like food, education, electricity, and security.
Life was falling apart emotionally and relationally, but those shoots of self-reliance were growing deeper roots that began breaking up the hard ground of my heart, creating room for a much deeper form of self-reliance.
The Roots of Self-Reliance Grow Richest in Unconditional High Regard
As time passed by, the pain of the addicted lover increased, and my frustrations with life, love, relationships, and homesteading increased.
The pain and conflict introduced me to a sober truth; that the systems of thinking I used for navigating life weren’t working to create the life I wanted.
I started to experience an awakening.
I started pondering, “maybe it’s me?”. Not as a form of blame but one of being willing and open and curious to changing
The bankruptcy of Eros’s possessive, destructive, enslaving nature led me to conclude that something far better was needed, and it was all coming together with my newfound interest in self-reliance.
I started to question, “Can love coexist with self-reliance?”
It turns out it can. In fact, the only true, deep love that exists is self-reliant love!
Enter Unconditional High Regard – the “how” needed to let go
Again, through happenstance, I saw a parenting video where someone mentioned “High Regard.” As I listened to the speaker, I found myself thinking, this sure sounds like what the Greeks called Agape.
Yet, she talked about parenting and treating her kids with the benefit of the doubt, assuming the best, and other things – no matter what the kid did.
And it clicked for me, “no matter what the kid did (or didn’t do).”
That sounds an awful lot like a love that isn’t reliant on the kid.
That sounds an awful lot like self-reliant love.
As a father of six, it didn’t take me long to recognize that I already knew what this kind of love was. It was the kind that would make me lay down in front of a Mack truck doing 80 MPH if it meant saving one of those souls from calamity.
I’m sure, as a dad, you know what I’m talking about too, Bobby!
Agape or Unconditional High Regard, or “UHR” as we call it here, is an entirely different kind of love!
A love that doesn’t need. A love that doesn’t seek anything for itself. A love that needs no recognition, reciprocation, reward, or receiving. It’s a love that is self-emptying for others, not one that requires others empty for me.
It’s a non-possessive way of being love instead of seeking it. A love with no object!
If I loved my kids with this kind of love, then there must be a source to this. I must also be loved this way
And if that’s true, then I can stop trying so hard!
This led me to discover UHR/Agape was a love not derived from my achievement, working harder, being richer, smarter, more right, being better looking, better dressed, or better anything.
Rather, it’s the love that holds the universe together and has always been there all along.
I began to understand that my emotional pain had been trying to tell me something – that I was focused on the impossible task of trying to get something for myself I already possessed by possessing something (or someone) other than myself.
And as my sense of self grew more complete and full, I realized I already had all the value, worth, significance, and everything else I ever needed.
I’m already complete and whole.
And that, my brother, is how I could truly let go, not just of any woman who might let go of me, but more importantly, every idea that compels me to seek something outside of me.
I hope you’ll experience the same, Bobby.
Love you, bro,