Can You Be Loved for Being Different? - Retirement Net by Judith Sherven, PhD and James Sniechowski, PhD

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Can You Be Loved for Being Different?

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Without accepting differences, no relationship can be truly satisfying

Posted April 10, 2011

Before we get into what it means to be loved for being different in your wisdom-elder years, we want to take you on a bit of a vision quest.

When you were growing up what did you learn about how you were supposed to think about and treat people who were different from you and your family? What did your family say? How about your friends? Neighbors? What were the messages you received either openly or by suggestion?

You may not have an answer right off, because this is not a question that gets asked very often. But think about it. It holds the key to better relationships in every area of your life, especially as you continue to add candles to your cake and head out even further beyond the world most people live in.

We’ve asked thousands of men and women around the world, and they’ve all admitted that what they learned, some more intensely than others, was to distrust those who were different. So they kept up their guard most of the time without even realizing it.

What does this have to do with you? We’ll get to that in a minute. But, here’s another question.

When you were growing up, how were you treated for all the ways you were different from the other people in your family? Were you respected? Were you teased? Were you praised? Or were you brought into line, expected to be just like everyone else or else!?

The people we’ve asked said that they learned to hide what made them different. Some were ashamed of themselves. Some were embarrassed. Some were frightened. And what they decided about themselves was tragic. They decided that they were somehow flawed. It was their fault even when it came to how they were brilliant, talented, beautiful, and all manner of other exceptional gifts.

Think about that. What was it like for you? And here’s why it’s important. You can’t help being who you are. And what makes you you? The ways you are unique and, yes, different from everyone else. And now that may include more years on the planet than many others.

Now think about being in a relationship. You are unique. Your partner is unique. That means you both are different from each other. Now if both of you have buried in your unconscious minds the belief that being different is somehow bad, even dangerous, how do you expect your relationship can ever be truly satisfying? It can’t be if you’re hiding some parts of who you are (like lying about your age) and judging your partner for who he or she is.

So what to do? First, know that you’re not alone. Even a superficial scan of society shows that everyone’s wary of those who are different. We’ve all learned it early in life, just like you did.

Next, you have to want to believe that being different is okay. And why not? Differences are inescapable. Rejecting differences is like rejecting air. They’re everywhere, and necessary for life.

And being older? The wisdom and life experience you hold—that has to become a gift you share only with those you care about and trust will value all the ways you are different.

And now, about love. What is love if it isn’t accepting of all that you are? If you have to go through your relationship fearing and hiding parts of who you are, you’ll have to walk on eggs, and that’s very tiring. It will also be the ruin of your relationship.

Remember, real love loves all of you. Love will work its way into your soul, shining its light on even those parts you’ve kept covered up. When love is real, that’s inevitable. The only way that won’t happen is if you settle for false love, the pretense and charade of being romantically intimate with someone.

Take another look back on what you learned about differences. Those lessons that bring you joy and pleasure, keep them. Those that don’t, that cause you to disguise who you are and judge others, let them go—little by little—as you see how self-destructive they are.

That requires a decision to grow up and see the world from your own particular perspective, not how you were raised.

When you do you will free yourself, you will free those you would have judged, and you will open yourself to an ageless love that you cannot now even imagine.

In support of your wisdom-age, Judith & Jim encourage you to get the Free Alert “10 Dangerous Beliefs About Aging and How To Avoid Them” at:

Judith & Jim are the best selling authors of five relationship books and co-founders of—the information hub for living to 120, 130, 150 and beyond. Get your Free Alert, “10 Dangerous Beliefs About Aging and How To Avoid Them” by going to


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