Love Letter Monday 3/25/19: On Being Unable to Give Love

I’m the author of the acclaimed memoir, I Am Yours, available wherever books are sold. Every Monday, I post an open love letter on Instagram and Facebook.

Love Letter Monday 3/25/19

Once upon a time, I had a habit of dating people whose emotional distance was the very thing that kept me hankering for their love. The more aloof and cold the man, the more I desired to make him warm to me. Our toxicity came from the marriage of his unavailability and my desperate need to be the positive space filling into his negative, or perhaps, vice versa.

It’s not that it felt like a game, because that would require my having confidence to begin with. More accurately, it felt like a punishing duty, as though gaining his affection would mean that finally, I had become a magical combination of ideal traits that could unlock the door to belonging.

One man had a fascinating inability to express gratitude. He never gave a single compliment or validation, even when a simple “Thank you” or a kind word felt normal in a situation. For months, I made it my assignment to figure out why this was. Had he never been modeled gratitude by his parents? Do I need to give him more compliments and kindness and gifts to finally become enough to warrant his reciprocity? Soon enough, I became a desperate, needy shell of a person. Begging and bending to be the positive space to fill his negative.

Then it dawned on me: He saw expressions of gratitude and affection as power. And a person’s ability to share or withhold any kind of power hinges on their self-esteem. The more secure a person is, the more generous they are with giving and sharing resources. The more insecure they are, the stingier they become.

The moment I realized this, my attachment to him evaporated. I was able to feel compassion for his deep insecurity, but the desire to convince him to recognize my value vanished. He had his own work to do to recognize his own value. I had the same work to busy myself. We had come into each other’s lives to be the precise mirrors we needed, not the partners.

Be abundant with your love, your gratitude, your validation of others and yourself. If you find yourself holding back, soften by leaning into love.

For this and more, Thank you. We are the love the world needs.

Love, Reema

I’m the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, I Am Yours, available wherever books are sold. Every Monday, I post an open love letter on Instagram and Facebook in a series called Love Letter Monday. Links to all published writing, videos, interviews, and reviews can be found at