I am no expert on matters of love. But every day that I choose to lead a spirit-filled life I am taken aback by love. I often ask myself, “what is love?” My best friend suggested that I read All About Love: New Visions, by Bell Hooks, in my quest to relearn love that is healing and transformative. Love used to mean many positive and negative words to me -- connection, warmth, dependency, consistency, control, power, transparency, heartbreak, games, ego, pride, cold-heartedness, violence, people-pleasing, sacrificing one’s own needs, deep desire, lust, and so on. Many Black children such as myself, were raised by emotionally unavailable parents. This can look like parents who were present and worked all the time but exhibited absent parenting, single parent(s), busy or stressed guardian(s), abusive parent(s), parent(s) who were physically absent, or generally just unapproachable. Many emotionally unavailable parents have a load of their own problems that they never dealt with, so I know my parents tried the best they knew how. But, were marred by the trauma and detachment from their parents and grandparents. Limiting your emotional availability could be a result of having emotionally detached parent(s) or emotional abuse from an elder. In my past relationship (my first relationship as a semi-adult), I was emotionally unavailable. My partner wanted so much from me, which I couldn’t give him at the time. I was young and afraid of love because I never knew what love looked like for myself. All I saw were the consequences and struggles of love, so I followed the model of love from what I learned in my childhood and the distance I saw in my parent's interactions with each other. I was evil, hurtful, and inconsiderate towards his feelings. I would tell him that he’s overreacting or that his feelings weren’t valid instead of encouraging him to own them. I wanted to be loved but hardly gave love to the partnership. The relationship was on and off for about two years until we finally decided to break it off. If the relationship didn't end, I wouldn’t have learned that love shouldn’t be hurtful, forceful, or out of guilt and pity. I was hard on myself for losing what I thought was a “perfect” or “ideal” relationship but seeking perfection is so unrealistic. No relationship or individual is perfect. When our time together came to an end, I chose growth instead of repeating a similar cycle. "You never ever have to convince someone to do the work to be ready. There is more extraordinary love, more love that you have never seen, out here in this wide and wild universe. And there is the love that will be ready.” ― Nayyirah Waheed Relationships are crucial and necessary in our lives. As humans, it’s in our nature to love and be loved. Love makes us immensely vulnerable and open to growth and honest truth-telling for our uppermost good. Because of this theme of “lovelessness,” the lack of love in one’s central relationships; In the book I read Bell Hooks expresses, that confronting lovelessness is part of our healing process. “A lack of sustained love does not mean the absence of care, affection, or pleasure. In fact, my long-term romantic relationships, like bonds in my family, have been so full of care that it would be quite easy to overlook the ongoing emotional dysfunction.” I couldn’t agree more with her sentiments. My habits were sabotaging long-term commitments of all forms as I refused to be vulnerable in my work, education, relationships, and community. My childhood lessons on love taught me that it’s critical to find ways to forgive and take responsibility for your healing. I had developed blockages preventing me from being emotionally intimate with others and forming bonds. Recently, I’ve embarked on a journey of opening my heart to love and releasing unhealthy relationship dynamics with myself and others. I want to liberate myself from radical individualism preventing me from receiving the nurturing I need on all levels. This will help me create new, healthy, habits and attract blessings that I am ready to receive love. To attract and manifest loving relationships for you, first, you need to do some housekeeping and release all the blockages preventing you from opening your heart. I would advise doing the inner work to sort out your emotions and practice heart-opening rituals: journaling, reflecting, forgiving others and yourself, and practicing gratitude while addressing past trauma(s). Then clear negative and limiting beliefs about your life from your mind. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and deeply believe that you are wholeheartedly deserving of whatever it is you want but first and foremost, recognize that you are in a relationship with YOURSELF before anyone else. Become intimately familiar with uniqueness -- what are your gifts/makes you special--and commit to SELF-LOVE. Manifesting a romantic partnership that is healthy, fulfilling, and supportive of your goals, growth, and divine purpose should be in alignment with radical self-acceptance.