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Shadow Love

Shadow Love

Living with Spiritual Elegance

by Caroline Phipps


Every thing in our world has a light side and a dark side and Love is no exception. We can Leverage our Love in many ways and some of those ways have a seamy, shadowy under-side. I use the word Shadow here because the dark side of Love is often consciously or unconsciously hidden away from plain sight, making it hard to shed light on what is really happening.

Wherever Love manifests the Shadow follows: Romantic relationships can descend into entanglements when partners become threatened by the growth and development of their loved one, fearing it will lead to abandonment.

Parents’ Love for their offspring can turn into disempowerment and entrapment for the children in an effort to retain emotional control.

Children can withhold Love from their parents to gain an emotional, and sometimes material, advantage.

Friends can manipulate and keep one another small to support their own fear-fueled neurosis.

These are just a few of the numerous ways Shadow Love can be Leveraged, but these painful scenarios have much in common. What is it that drives us to the stormy, Shadow side of Love? At the epicenter of the Shadow’s abusive tornado there is a solid core of fear: Fear for our very survival. We have fear that we are not good enough on our own, fear that we can’t survive alone and fear that we are not lovable.

All of this germinates in a shaky sense of our own self worth, and from there it’s only a short step to needing others to shore up our ego’s sense of identity. Once the ego drives the interaction with our loved ones, genuine love for the other person becomes a shadowy, secondary consideration at best. Our ego self wants to be in control and to possess while simultaneously telling us we are doing the right thing for others.

If Shadow Love takes a serious hold it can even turn us into “emotional vampires". Vampires survive by literally living off the life-blood of others. Essentially the same scenario plays out in the Love arena. Emotional vampires live off the emotional energy of others. The ultimate emotional vampire often masquerades as a selfless giver of Love, who appears to do everything for their loved ones, but in truth is serving their own needs entirely. They skillfully control their environment, and possess their victims, by using shame and guilt to control their relationships.

The concept of the emotional vampire may sound overly dramatic, but we have all experienced being at the mercy of another’s ability to make us ashamed and guilty of our own wants and desires. All done under the guise of Love, it can be very tricky to spot in the shadows. And none of us are immune from this. We all have times in our lives when we are driven by our Shadow side, falling prey to our own fears of being abandoned by our loved ones and descending into manipulative martyrdom or victimization to assert control.

All this does is to keep everyone small. From the person dishing out the Shadow Love to the person receiving it, all that happens is everyone being kept from his or her true potential and higher purpose. And with all the difficulties facing us, and our planet, this does not serve us well. Nobody is ever remembered for remaining insignificant.

There is only one way to free our selves from the endless cycle of suffering created by The Shadow. And here’s the paradox: Relief can only be found when we open the cage door and set one another free. Freedom in a relationship allows for authenticity and that may even mean the end of something. However painful this might be, at least we know the situation is built on a purer form of Love, and honors the other person’s life journey. By allowing freedom into our relationships we become the architects of our own happiness, and nothing is more satisfying than knowing we are together because we genuinely care.

Next time you feel fearful in your relationships stop and ask yourself why? What is it that makes you feel fearful? Are you making your loved one fearful? What is really going on between you? What is good for the other person? What is really the best for you? So often our fears are unfounded and the answers you receive may provide the relief you need.


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