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How to Recognize True Love as a Masochist

Masochism can be detrimental in our relationships when left unchecked and unloved. It can send us spiraling through toxic relationships, painful patterns of self sabotage and self neglect, and push us to question our attractions. The self doubt our masochistic nature may ignite within us can be the most excruciatingly scary demon to face.

When we lose trust within ourselves in knowing what is good for us, or right for us, we lose our ability to bounce back when life knocks us down, without leaning on something or someone external to set us back upright and save us. After developing and solidifying the belief internally, for years and years, that we are wounded, broken or wrong, we become hardwired in knowing that as our truth.

This makes all areas of life a bit murky or unstable, but it’s particularly challenging in our relationships. If we lean so heavily on outside approval in our relationships that we divorce ourselves from our inner knowing or personal truth, then we miss out on the hard-won love uniquely coded to us. We cut ourselves off from the most deeply fulfilling relationships and experiences our soul had in store for us, because typically they don’t look normal or easy from the outside. And most people go for easy in life.

Ignoring our inner truth in favor of what popular opinion says our relationship or love story “should” look like is where we deprive ourselves of the struggle and triumph our heart may be yearning for. This can leave us feeling numb or disconnected in the relationships we do settle for - or in the solitude we tell ourselves is good enough.

Not everyone has a prominent masochistic nature, and not everyone is going to identify as a masochist, but for those of us who do and wish to embrace that side of ourselves, the concept of “healthy” relationships and attractions can be a sore and confusing point.

How do we know what voice to listen to? Our head or our heart? The energy and how our body feels… or what looks logical, healthy or correct to society? We may worry how to not take that too far… we don’t want to ignore clear red flags and warning signs that this relationships truly is not the best thing for us or our future. But we are intrinsically attracted to difficult situations, uphill battles, longing, and soulful love. We may feel deep within that if pain adds meaning and texture to our lives, then our romantic relationships should have their share of chaos and passion, requiring patience, trust and compassion.

Unconscious masochism in our lives and relationships is where we get ourselves into trouble. This is where we lack boundaries, self respect, self love and even safety. A few examples of unconscious masochism in our relationships or attractions include:

- Ignoring our personal truth when we know someone is not right for us

- Endlessly giving to another person without boundaries and self respect, out of a hope that they will treat us better one day if we give enough

- Staying in comfortable relationships, that don’t truly excite or fulfill us, due to fear of the unknown or being alone

- Staying in toxic, unsafe relationships with people who do not love us, because we lack true love for ourselves and are looking to them to fill that void within us

- Compromising our values, identity or personal truth in order to make a relationship workable or stick, giving up who we are or want to be in order to keep a partner

These qualities are only for us to determine, as no one knows what is truly inside our heart but us. No one from the outside can ever know 100% if these play out in our relationships (maybe 95% but hey, everyone has to walk their own journey). That being said, true love and deeply enriching relationships do not come without pain or hard work. They don’t always make sense from the outside or look how we’d expect.

Conscious masochism allows us a wholehearted approach to self-acceptance, without having to conform to a societally picture-perfect relationship. Applying conscious masochism in our relationships requires deep self awareness and honesty, true self love, and a willingness to accept our unique inner make-up. It means putting energy first and foremost, always. Living life from our invisible-self, not our visible-self. And remembering that, “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly” (The Little Prince).

Whether we identify as a masochist or not, one thing never changes. Our heart, our soul, our higher self, whatever you wish to call it - the voice of pure love inside… it only ever wants the best for us. It will never lead us down the wrong path when we follow it faithfully. But it does tend to lead us down some dark, scary, confusing and painful roads. It doesn’t promise us a life without pain or heartache.

It does however, guarantee that if we’re brave enough to lean into the discomfort true love requires, that we will always have the satisfaction of knowing we are being who we were meant to be - regardless of who others choose to be in return. That one day we will leave this life without any regrets over having withheld our love, effort or care.

When we understand that everything outside of us is a reflection of what is happening inside our hearts and minds (Law of Attraction for those unfamiliar with it), then our number one priority should be acknowledging and honoring those sparks of true love in our life, without expectations placed upon them, labels or boxes.

Self trust is not about guessing the answer right, it's not about avoiding relationships that call to us deeply because they may be challenging, painful or take some time. Self trust rather is in discerning where those seeds of true love lie and accepting the flow of their growth. Because "like", lust or love based on convenience and safety are likely not the sort of true love we are yearning for.

Finding true love is rare. Whether in a relationship, in a passion or career, in family or friends… it’s a precious gift that should be acknowledged and treasured when found. But so many of us fail to do so because our head gets in the way, or worse - other people’s heads/beliefs/wounds do. Finding true love also doesn’t always guarantee a life long relationship with a happy ending, but that doesn’t make the experience of it any less special or meaningful simply because it fails to fit into the “happily ever after” box.

So when we find that spark of genuine joy, fulfillment and love - when we find those people or things that just click with such profound “rightness”, let’s try not to reason out our connection or analyze it’s merit. The expectation of certain outcomes dampens and diminishes that light and excitement within us in the face of true love. Though as masochists, the question likely also arises of am I going to sabotage this? Am I going to ruin something good and pure with my fear and darkness?

When we’ve done the inner work to get to know ourselves, heal our trauma and accept ourselves each step of the way… all it takes is consistent little reminders that we have nothing to doubt or fear in our attractions anymore. Positive reinforcement through being our own best-friend (which requires loving the darkness and ugliness), is the salve that can alleviate our fears of self sabotage and keep us moving forward, slowly but surely. Feelings can be tricky and fleeting, but with inner attunement to our energy, our body and heart, we find it’s increasingly easier to decipher what feels right and what feels wrong.

Conscious masochism is simply the bridge in validating our desire for messy or unlikely relationships, without sacrificing our safety, boundaries, or desire for a happy future. Both is completely possible. We don’t need to feel bored, uninterested or that we’ve settled in order to have a healthy, long term relationship. And that relationship is totally allowed to feel hard-won, passionate and right for us in the depths of our being.

What are your experiences with self doubt around your attractions or relationships as a masochist? Do you find it difficult when you're attracted to the darkness in people, to build healthy relationships rooted in the light? I'd love for you to share your thoughts below!