The Problem with the Saying “Love and You will be Loved”



the problem with the saying love and you will be loved
Photo by Journi Roe Photography

This week I came across the expression “love and you will be loved” several times and it got me thinking about how in theory it can and does work but the problem is what it infers. Depending on what you have already learned about “love” different messages are received through this saying. This phrase is so often said as a solution for everything just like with other sayings such as; Love heals all wounds; Love is the answer; if you are lonely then simply Love someone. It implies that if you “are not loving” then you will not be loved and the message that I “heard” is that I was not loved because I was not loving enough which led to me trying harder in impossible and abusive situations. This directive “love and you will be loved” seems to imply that we are all able to love as though love is something we just “know” how to do.  Are we born knowing how to love or do we learn how to love by first being loved.

“Love and you will be loved” is often said as a reprimand. That phrase has some baggage that goes along with it. It decides that you will only be loved IF you love and that is fine. I am not disagreeing with that concept. It is the way that it is applied that I have an issue with.  In our society, it seems to be applied to the victim in any given situation. The statement seems to infer that if you are struggling then it must be YOUR fault. If you are lonely, it is YOUR fault. If you are oppressed, what did you do to cause it? If you are being abused, or if you were mistreated (in any way) in the past, what did you do bring that on to yourself?

 What if the saying “love and you shall be loved” was applied to the adults FIRST before it is applied to their children. What if we lived in a world where everyone said to parents with regards to their children “you reap what you sow” instead of these sayings always being directed to the children? What if the saying “love and you shall be loved” was aimed at my mother and father in regards to the way that they treated me? Perhaps that is why I am not the “loving and devoted” daughter they “expected” me to be. They didn’t teach me to love. They didn’t model love. They didn’t love. There was no action behind the words “love”.   

“The world” looks at me as an ungrateful child who has disrespected my parents with my blog. I am harshly judged for writing the truth as well as for standing up to them. The “world” thinks that I am the one with the problem. What is wrong with that picture?

Where did you learn to love? How did you learn what “love” was? What do you think “love” is? These were the kinds of questions that helped me sort things out.  These are the kinds of questions that led me to become an independent and LOVING individual with a full and happy life and with wonderful loving children. Answering these questions has saved my marriage and helped us to break the cycle of dysfunctional family systems within our marriage and with our children.

The following poem/quote by Dorothy Law Nolte is shared virally on facebook.

“If a child lives with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive,

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves,

If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.

But do not despair …

If a child lives with tolerance, they learn to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If a child lives with praise, they learn to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness, they live with justice.

If a child lives with security, they live to have faith.

If a child lives with approval, they learn to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship they learn to find love in the world.”

Dorothy Law Nolte 

Please see the complete version here: Dorothy Law Nolte Poem

Everyone loves to share beautiful stuff like this but articles such as the ones that I write about the reality of children who have NOT been raised this way are not shared nearly as much. The reality of child abuse and child neglect that so many adults share is not nearly as popular as this wisdom and truth in Dorothy’s quote. Her words are truth and they are the ideal but it is frowned upon in polite society if we have discussions about the way kids turn out if we ARE NOT raised with all this love and nurturing because it points the finger at the parents and there is some sort of huge taboo about doing that.  

We are not going to solve the problem of child abuse without discussing the pain of being those children. It is the adult children who are IN so much pain who are raising the future generations and it will only be by facing ALL the truth that will lead to global change. If the cycle of child abuse (emotional abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse or spiritual abuse) and neglect is going to be broken, the painful details that involve dysfunctional families have to be talked about too.

Please share your thoughts about this topic. I look forward to the discussion.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

Related Posts: “When Children are not regarded as Actual People”

181 response to "The Problem with the Saying “Love and You will be Loved”"

  1. By: Akusua Akoto Posted: 17th August

    love and you will be loved sounds like one of those fairy tale endings that like most endings, one does not question. For many of us, love is not based on equal terms. If I say ‘i love you’ to my mother and she continues to treat me like she always has, do i love her more ? did my love fail ? according to everyone it did fail. Also as children, it places the horrible expectation that we should know how to give the kind of love that gets us love in return. How did I exactly know how to love my mother the ‘right’ way and imagine the failure I felt when not only it was not returned to me but I was met with what I now know is venom and rage. If as children, the love isnt there what do we do ?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th August

      Yes, the failure belongs to the parent not to the child. When a parent mistreats a child that isn’t LOVE at all. It is mistreatment and it breaks the self esteem of the child. And children have no choice; they depend on their parents for their lives. So we learn to survive and accept the unacceptable just in order to survive.

      As an adult I realized that my life no longer depended upon these adults who mistreated and disregarded me. I flipped all those lies over and changed them back to the truth. That has been the only thing that has enabled me to heal from the damage that this false message of “love” caused.
      Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: SMD Posted: 7th August

    Thank You! I do have more clarity when I’m not around my FOO. The LC has not been working, since I was was still distressed. Well, feeling better with 2 weeks NC… Yay for me!….Doesn’t sound like much, but it is for me, since my kids want to see their grandparents & cousins. NC has not been my first choice, yet it’s the only way to maintain my clarity & peace. Thanks for the Love & Peace!
    I have gained in awareness & that has been a blessing!

  3. By: Mimi Posted: 7th August

    I went through fearful times too. The further I got from my mom, the more clarity I found. Because she had such an inivisible hold on me, being in her presence seemed to hinder the clarity. Then, like I said, every couple of months she would do/say something that made my head sort of spin. Even though I could identify it as one of her tactics, I still was touched in some way, and that would mess with my clarity, even if only a little bit. After the last few exchanges I had via email, when my stepdad intruded, it was like I was handing them the rope, and they eagerly accepted. Their words screamed dysfunction and screwed up definitions of honor, love, respect, bullying, etc. They both got to a level of desperation that I find so evident now. It has really helped me to see them for who they are. That I could remain calm and speak as an adult, but they failed to do so. That is a relief to me. The road goes both ways. Once I put the pressure on them, they got angry and unreasonable. I suppose since I used their own methods on them, now I get the honor of saying they have anger issues ~ that they’re monsters. It proves to me that when buttons are pushed, people react. It doesn’t make me a monster, it makes me human. And, it makes me NO DIFFERENT than them in terms of angry reactions. What a relief to catch them up in their own BS and see how THEY handle it. All these years, I’ve bought into it. They stood over me like vipers holding an axe, ready to strike if I had a thought of my own or showed a hint of anger. Bullying because they could. Because I was weak. Because I needed them.

    My husband, and people here, etc. have pointed out that it keeps a person stirred up to respond to their desperation. My husband suggested I route their emails to junk folder. As much as I still have some morbid curiosity to see what they have to say, I know it’s best to not even know what they have to say. It unleashes some strange paralysis on me for a few days. I’m sick of that roller coaster. I want to get past that two month mark when she comes back with some new crap. I want to see what happens past that. I wonder if I’ll continue to improve and gain more insight about myself and how to reparent, work on self esteem, etc.

    I understand that pain you refer to. It is so painful. Revelations are just painful, no other way to describe it. At times, it’s been debilitating for me. I remember wondering how my mom could NOT love me, her own child. I don’t think she does. I don’t think she loves anyone but herself. I am relieved that she’s angry and withdrawn now. I need this time. Right now, I don’t think I ever want to see her or my stepdad again. I’m not sure I can keep my self care intact if I have contact with them in the future.

    Thanks for listening, and I hear you. I know some days have passed between posts lately because I’ve been blessed with extra work. I know now that I can still function in a work capacity. What a relief that is. Anyhow, I have read everyone’s comments, and I’m thinking of my friends here. I’m just in a time crunch lately.

    Much love and peace to you Sonia…. and everyone!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th August

      Thank you for sharing this! Sounds like you are having some victories!
      Hugs! Darlene

  4. By: SMD Posted: 6th August

    I meant issues & problems in post #172….

  5. By: SMD Posted: 6th August

    Thanks for your comment #170. I was told today, by my counselor, that she suspects I have PTSD. Actually, this makes so much sense to me!…It explains a lot of what I’m dealing with. The pathology is toxic! The ability to function becomes impaired. Yes, a sensible answer is to end the relationship. I certainly don’t want to revisit the trauma. My goal right now is to stay away from FOO, until I do more healing on myself. I have an intake appt set up this month to address my issues 7 problems. This is so hard to acknowledge that I need more support, because I feel I’ve done hard work & made progress. Yet, the pain is still remains. My counselor thinks that I can heal more & then have family contact without getting hurt. Well, I don’t know if I believe that for myself. I just know I need to go no contact at this time! I’m Scared & Hopeful at the same time.

  6. By: Rizae Posted: 6th August

    Pam ~ That is so true … all of it!!

  7. By: Pam Posted: 6th August

    Darlene, I think not knowing how to express emotional abuse is one reason that kids make up ‘stories’ of abuse. They aren’t really lying, there looking for a way to express what is happening to them and causing them so much pain. Thank you for helping me in the last year or more to really understand how I was abused and giving me the right words to acurately describe what was done to me.

    All, I’ve read through the comments and I think I have it a little confused when it comes to who said what but in the last conversation I had with my mom, I felt emotionally, cut off at the knees and it helped me identify the source of the paralyzing depressions I used to have. Family relationships can be so toxic that it is impossible to survive if we remain in them. None of us would knowingly expose ourselves to poisons that make our bodies sick (or we shouldn’t, abusing substances is to abuse one’s self by ingesting poinson. It’s only common sense to remove ourselves from people who are emotional poinson. If they have no desire to change and become healthy themselves, there’s no other sensible answer than ending the relationship.


  8. By: SMD Posted: 5th August

    Thanks for your support & encouragement. I’ve stayed away from my FOO this past week & I am feeling better (less stressed)! I don’t feel obligated to explain or call them either. I’m actually getting more in touch with my anger towards their mistreatment of me, over the years. The family interactions & situations happening in the present are reflecting the control & manipulation, I experienced as a child. I could not understand or articulate what was going on in my family. Denial is Dysfunction & Minimizing the abuse is a coping mechanism. I see that so clearly now, more than ever! I realize their behavior is pathological & it was covered up, by looking at me as the problem. My anxiety & depressions were used as proof, that I was the problem & I believed that all my life. Despite that, I’ve gave them the benefit of the doubt and continued to have some relationship with them. LC has been difficult, particularly these past few weeks, with family drama & stress. They do that have the awareness & sensitivity that I have and it is not healthy for me to be with them. Although it’s hurts, I’m glad for this realization. I’m taking better care of myself in the process. I’m convinced I have PTSD, since any contact, leaves me in distress with new revelations of past pain & memories. It’s been a rough few weeks. I continue to verbalize my pain & not hide it from myself. I have been conditioned to minimize & present well, when I’m feeling badly. My goal is to be more Real & step back from family contact. I continue validating myself & the damage done to me. I’m Hanging in There for Myself & My kids.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th August

      Yes, that is what all abusers or anyone who sees themselves as “above” the other person will do; they don’t let you come up for air long enough to ever see that it is them by making sure that you look at you all the time. When I first admitted that I had depression it was the proof that everyone used against me and I went along with it! Even getting involved with the “wrong boyfriend” when I was younger was used as proof and before that, people talked about the difficult birth that I had and that the dr. had to use forcepts which damaged my eyes…. and perhaps my brain… and I accepted that too. GOOD GRIEF, its great to be out of that fog!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Pam,
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Aurele Posted: 5th August


    Thank you for your answer, it helps me a lot.
    Thank you for your site too, it’s wonderful.
    You are a great example and if I wish one day being able to do the same.

  10. By: hurtinginside82 Posted: 4th August

    Aurele, i feel sad for you. i said the same thing to my dad whilst i had the razor blade over my wrist and he said “do it then….”

  11. By: Aurele Posted: 4th August

    Hi everyone,

    A painful memory came back into my mind, it was when I was 18, my father made his usual harassement and I told him (totally desesperate) that I feel so bad and if he continues, I will kill myself.

    What he answered me ?
    He yelled at me saying it’s ok, no problem, come on I’ll take you, we can go in the top of the building right now !!
    He accused me to do affective blackmail in saying that I will end to kill myself.

    So terrible and sick emotionnal abuse.

    Love to everyone.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 4th August

      Your father makes me angry. What a sick and horrible thing to say / do to a person. And it makes such a statement and sends such a clear message about your value and importance. This is such a damaging thing to say!
      Thanks for sharing it. I am sorry that happened to you.
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Hurtinginside82
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken,
      My comments above to Aurele apply to you as well. What an awful and disgusting thing to say! Again the message is clear; Your own father is saying that he didn’t care about your life. That is what we are talking about here in this site. For many of us, the message was not so blunt, but that is the message that we must overcome in order to live in freedom and wholeness.
      Thank you for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

Leave a Reply to SMD Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.