Title: Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life
Author: Dr. Thomas Jordan, Ph.D
Print Length: 132 pages
Publisher: Book Baby
Publication Date: December 16, 2019
In Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life, clinical psychologist Dr. Thomas Jordan Ph.D., outlines several ways couples can improve their love lives. He shows from a “psychological blueprint” how those previous experiences of love have shaped our current understanding in relationships going as far back as birth. He uses his personal life experience to show how what we learn in our family “shapes our experience of interpersonal reality when we become adults.” (Jordan, 92) Dr. Jordan challenges readers to identify what they’ve learned, challenge what they’ve learned, and then try something new. As you can tell, Dr. Thomas’ explanations are easy-to-understand, and his examples are clear and concise.
One of the most important points he makes is about learned beliefs, behavior, and feelings. Jordan asserts, for example, that if what we’ve learned about love was unhealthy growing up, we will unknowingly, somewhat subconsciously, repeat what was unhealthy in our adult relationships. The key here is what you believe about love relationships will shape your experience. Suppose someone taught you to think relationships are dishonest because you experienced dishonesty growing up. If you are not aware of this learned belief and have not made changes, chances are your current relationships will recreate dishonesty and generate a feeling that someone is deceptive.
This same thing can apply if you’ve felt Abandonment (loss), Exploitation (used), Abuse (fearful), Mistrust (suspicious), Controlled (trapped), Neglect (deprived), Dependency (needy), and Rejection (rejected). According to Dr. Jordan, these are among the ten unhealthy traits we learn and unconsciously recreate in our love relationships if we have not healed from them. Another critical detail Dr. Jordan makes is about how we become defensive to avoid being vulnerable.
It is the vulnerability that allows people to get to know us better because we have let them “in.” People shy away from opening up in this way because one cannot be vulnerable without risking unintentional hurt from time to time. What is meant by “unintentional?” There will inevitably be differences between you and the person you are in a relationship with, disagreements, different perspectives, opinions, etc. These differences are inevitable. There is no escaping it. According to Dr. Thomas, one cannot be in love without feeling unintentional hurt based on differences.
So then, why is “falling in love” worth it? Dr. Thomas has an interesting answer: Because we all have a natural ability to heal. The risk of falling in love is more tolerable and less stressful when we believe in our innate ability to heal. “If hurt leads to loss, we can grieve, heal our hearts, and move on.” (Jordan, 55)
We can avoid pain altogether by not opening up, but being defensive in relationships interferes with our ability to give and receive love. Dr. Thomas notes that love as an emotion is unpredictable and uncontrollable; hence, we “fall in love,” the connotation is that we have lost control. Because of losing control, we risk getting hurt. We avoid this hurt in attempting to achieve a love relationship without being vulnerable, which is not possible.
“Vulnerability is the emotional experience that shows you are open to giving and receiving love.” – Dr. Thomas Jordan
This understanding took me back to the 80/20 rule. It is a lot to expect to receive 100% good from one person because we all have trauma and baggage from our life experiences we carry with us. Even in an emotionally healthy and stable individual, you still might only get 80% of what you consider beautiful traits, if that. Can you live with that person’s twenty percent, or is this person’s twenty percent unbearable/intolerable? Based on your conscious awareness of your own flaws and strengths, combined with their weaknesses and strengths, what can you realistically tolerate in a love relationship? What flaws can you live with (accept)?
My only issue with this book is the opening section detailing what the book would be about. I found it unnecessary and thought the author would do well to jump right in. However, the author made up for it with the breakdown of healthy relationship experiences at the end! I think that tied things up well. These healthy traits are the opposite of the unhealthy list I mentioned earlier: Attachment, Respect, Freedom, Independence, Honesty, Consideration, Trust, Devotion, Acceptance, and Intimacy.
Anyone, single or married, disappointing love life or not, can learn how to heal by learning to love themselves, starting with being consciously aware of toxic patterns.
Strong Introduction: 4/5
Authenticity / Believable: 5/5
Thought Provoking: 5/5
Solid Conclusion: 5/5
*Note that poetry books and Non-Fiction books will have a different rating system than fiction books.