To the Undercover, Over-Lover

Some secrets are meant to be told.

There are many of us who love fiercely deep inside, though it may never rise completely to the surface. We love too much, too hard, with indomitable will and protective endurance. Yet, those who prompt such adoration have little idea that we care for them with such conviction. For whatever reason, effective outward expression of the feelings that have manifested inwardly is a struggle. Our affection seldom reaches its object.

People underestimate the intensity of our devotion. They go on believing that they are unloved and half-wanted. They’ll sever ties thinking that we won’t care or notice much, when nothing could be further from the truth. We care the most. It takes us longer to move our hearts and minds forward after heartbreak. Sometimes we hold on too long. Others, we give up too soon, unable to bear the longing. We don’t know what to do with the love — Not when it’s there, nor when it leaves.

For some, the root of the disconnect is a hesitance to make ourselves vulnerable. Being completely exposed and relinquishing our power is scary. Someone once told me, “the person who loves the least controls the relationship.” To maintain the upper hand, sometimes we hold back. Because, sometimes people actually do take advantage of our defenselessness. Behavior changes. An arrogant indifference can emerge from a person who is a bit too sure of themselves and overly confident in a situation.

Poet Warsan Shire has the perfect message for circumstances such as this:

Perhaps, the problem is not the intensity of your love, but the quality of the people you are loving.

In other cases, the holding back is a result of fear. We’re afraid the other person won’t feel the same, or worse, will flat out reject us. We don’t want to be embarrassed. So, in order to protect our egos, we never let them know the depth of our affinity. Or, we’re fully aware that they don’t feel the same and fear that our grand declarations will overwhelm them. What’s worse, not being loved in return or having the one that you love, leave?

Sometimes we’re avoiding pain. We think that if someone doesn’t know how much we care for them, they can’t hurt us. We may even convince ourselves that we’re not as invested as we are. But love isn’t meant to live in the shadows. In the end, it all aches just the same.

There are those of us who just don’t know how to express such a profound emotion. Maybe no one ever showed us how to love. We try, but it feels like a foreign experience. Those feelings stay buried because setting them free doesn’t come naturally. We have to love intentionally, but are still figuring out how to do so in a manner that is both known and felt. Perhaps we get lucky and come across someone who helps us along the way — who takes the time to look in those hidden places and gently assist us in learning about ourselves.

Dear undercover over-lover,

Come out of hiding. Find someone worthy. Tell them exactly how you feel. Show them your soul. Be loud and unapologetic with your love, as well as your pain. Be rejected, taken for granted and unmasked. Surrender. This is not your destruction. This is your birth.

Author of the critically acclaimed book on women and relationship status, “Single That.”

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