I would like to introduce a book called “Love Knots” by Lori Heyman Gordan. I learned about love knots during the PAIRS mastery classes. I thought Lori Gordan was brilliant, for making explicit the illogical, subconscious relationship patterns that implicitly govern relationships.
“Love Knots” by Lori Heyman Gordan (2002) is a book about the twisted rules that subconsciously govern how we love, in our relationships. A “love knot” is like an equation. An “If__, then__” kind of thinking process, except these equations block and destroy the possibility of having a loving relationship.
For example, a love knot may go something like this: “ If you love me, you would know what I think, feel, and want, and you would give it to me. Since you don’t, you obviously don’t care. So, why should I care for you, or for what you think, feel, say, want, or do? So, when you tell me what you want, I won’t be interested. I will be withholding.”
The book offers this healthy and truly loving alternative: “I cannot assume that you know. I will ask for what I want and not expect you to know.”
It’s liberating to untangle an invisible love knot, and to use its enlightened alternative to bring greater joy and bonding in a relationship.
I was struck by the many illogical love knots that link love to pain. Here is another common one: “If I love you, I will need you. I cannot trust you to be there. Therefore, I cannot (will not) love you.”
The alternative to the lonely outcome of living such a love knot is, “I’ll decide for myself whether or not I can trust you, based on my actual experiences with you—not on my history or hidden expectations.”
Once it is expressed explicitly, it’s as if a bell goes, “Ding!” above one’s head, and the thought, “Why not?” simultaneously appears. Why not live one’s life based on what is present rather than on what was in the past? Why not trust for the sake of love? Why not? The beauty of “Love Knots” is that the healthy alternatives offer a way to untangle love from pain and to join it to joy, where it truly belongs.
The book also describes “double binds”, a no-win situation, where the “If__, then__” offers no alternative path to a positive, loving outcome. Here is a common double bind: “If you give to me, I feel beholden, obligated, burdened . . . and I distance myself from you. If you don’t give to me, I feel unloved, uncared for, unwanted.” With this double bind, the ability to receive joyfully has been blocked, by the fear of giving, because the act of giving has been transformed to an obligation—an unwanted responsibility.
Lori Gordon writes: “The only way a person having such a belief will ever be satisfied is to change, to learn to allow himself to enjoy being given to, to understand that true gifts do not come wrapped in obligation.”
Another double bind: “If I tell you what I want and you do what I want, it doesn’t count, because I had to tell you. If I don’t tell you what I want, you don’t do what I want. If you do what I want, but not the way I wanted you to, it doesn’t count. I feel unloved.”
What is the healthy alternative? Lori Gordan writes: “I cannot expect you to know what I want, nor to do anything exactly the way I would. I can still appreciate the gift of whatever you do because you know I would like it.”
During the holidays, did the process of gift giving hold any love knots for you? Did those love knots lessen the joy you would have had in your relationships? What healthy alternative to those love knots can you create for yourself?
The wisdom in this short, paperback book, filled with cartoon illustrations, is brilliant and profound. One can easily read the book from cover to cover in an hour, but learning to make conscious, the hidden, subconscious love knots in our lives, and to untangle them, will be the work of a lifetime.
I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy this amazing book and be able to integrate any healthy suggestions that would help you untangle your own love knots.