Or letting love happen this Valentine’s Day …
Valentine’s Day is a day of celebrating romantic love, and that’s exactly what we romance writers do best. We are in love with love, and we want all our characters as well as friends and family and even strangers to find love.
Funny thing though, love is sometimes an elusive being when you go out to find it. Is it hiding underneath a rock? Or could it be lurking in the pages of a book? How about it’s gone on a long vacation with no itinerary of returning? Maybe it’s staring you in the face and you’re not seeing it!
This is exactly what happens to many of my heroes and heroines, as well as friends and even myself in real life. Most of my romances, especially the friends to lovers, or even the enemies to lovers stories have this theme. Two people may be insanely attracted to each other but they have all sorts of reasons why this person is absolutely the wrong person for them. My job as the writer is to go behind the character’s doubts and insecurities and figure out fun and exciting scenarios for my hero and heroine to get past their roadblocks to love.
In most cases, the issue isn’t that they’re not lovable. Or that they don’t want love, no matter how loudly they deny that’s the case, but that they’re afraid to be vulnerable. That they make it difficult to let others love them. There are barriers and walls that might be built from past traumas or simply distrust that others have their best interests in mind. Perhaps deep inside, they don’t feel they deserve love.
Our characters are a lot like us. Or maybe I’m just speaking for myself. A common theme in my romances are characters who feel like they don’t belong or are hard on themselves and distrustful of people’s motives. They push those away who try to get close and struggle to accept love and affection, or even small favors that their friends want to do for them.
You know the type. If someone asks if they need anything, they’re always “fine.” They’re cheerful to help another but can fathom sitting back and letting others shower them with affection.
Here are some steps to help you start allowing others to love you:
- Acknowledge your fear.
Many of our issues stem from fear. We can start by acknowledging the fear that’s holding us back. This fear could stem from past hurt and disappointment, or it could be a general fear of vulnerability and intimacy. Take some time to reflect on what might be causing your fear and either write it down in a journal or talk about it with a friend. It might be hard to admit it but knowing yourself is the first step.
- Realize your worth.
Self-love is the foundation of all healthy relationships. If you don’t love yourself, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to fully accept love from others. That’s because you don’t feel worthy of love. Realize that you are worthy and figure out the things that make you happy. Don’t worry so much about how you look to others. Surround yourself with positive people, do things you’re interested in, and speak kindly to yourself. Most of all, if you have faith in God, you know that you are so worthy that he gave the ultimate sacrifice to redeem your soul. He loves you unconditionally and entirely in perfect love.
- Learn to trust others.
If you’ve been hurt in the past, it can be difficult to trust others again. However, trust is an essential component of healthy relationships. Start small by opening up to people you already trust and gradually building up to those you’re less familiar with. Trusting isn’t blind, however, and therefore you need to always be discerning and prayerful about letting someone into your life. Give it time and go for the slow burn. As you become more discerning and yet open to new experiences you will trust your own judgment and intuition better and avoid being hurt.
- Be open and honest.
One of the biggest reasons why we struggle to accept love from others is because we’re not open and honest about our needs and feelings. When we keep our feelings bottled up, it can be difficult for others to understand what we need from them. We’re always telling our friends we’re fine and ignoring what’s bothering us. We want to go it alone and not ask for help. I’m not saying to be needy or clinging, but being honest about your feelings and needs goes a long way toward building a loving relationship with another human being.
- Be patient.
Allowing others to love you takes time and patience. It’s not something that happens overnight, and there will likely be bumps along the way. Be patient with yourself and others, and remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. It’s no wonder that 1 Corinthians 13 starts with: Love is patient, love is kind.
Did you find any of these steps helpful? My wish for you is that you are loved not only on Valentine’s Day but every day of the year. As a writer of over 80 romance novels and stories, I’m always conjuring up new ways for my characters to fall in love. Some are sweet and cute and others are out of this world. So have a Happy Valentine’s Day, and if you like, pick up Red Hexed: Ruby, on sale for 99c – an unlikely love story between a Viking sword-bearer bent on stopping Ragnarok and a modern-day beauty queen who was burned on half of her face.
Rachelle Ayala is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Her foremost goal is to take readers on a shared emotional journey with her characters as they grow and become more true to themselves. Rachelle believes in the power of love to overcome obstacles and feels that everyone should find love as often as possible, especially if it’s within the pages of a book.
Her book, Knowing Vera, won the 2015 Angie Ovation Award, A Father for Christmas garnered a 2015 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award, Christmas Stray received a 2016 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award, and Playing for the Save got the 2017 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award in Realistic Fiction.
She is also a writing teacher and founder of the Romance In A Month writing community. She lives in California with her husband and has three children and two birds.