To Feel or Not to Feel

Melinda WalshA longtime friend called me with a question. “I’m in a dilemma and I am not sure what to do. Would you give me some perspective?” he said. “Do you think Love is a choice?

He told me about a female friend that he’d known for several years, who was newly sober and freshly out of a relationship. The two of them were platonic and were clear that they were just friends, but he suddenly found himself having feelings for her, despite knowing that this she was in a vulnerable state and wouldn’t be a good choice for a relationship for him.

This is  our conversation.


He’s been single for a number of years.

How do I stop these feelings?  We single folks crave touch, and how can I stop wanting that? My head knows that there are red flags with her all over the place but I keep having feelings for her.


“First off, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re human and humans get lonely, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that you feel this way. You’re normal!

FRIEND looked surprised, as if I had just told him that he was going to sprout wings.

What you’re really craving is not her, but the way you feel when you’re involved with someone. We all want companionship, to love and be loved. And that’s what you want. You’re clear on it, your head knows not to get involved. But don’t suppress your feelings, either. They will come and go like the tide.”


You mean they will go away?


Not altogether. You have to learn to manage them without coming up with a story that inspires you to give in to them. That’s where the trouble starts— most people don’t know how to tolerate feelings of loneliness so they choose relationships that really don’t serve them in order not to feel that anxiety. Your job is to learn to just allow your feelings to flow—and choose healthy actions, while tolerating those feelings.


But that’s uncomfortable! I don’t like that!



Of COURSE it’s uncomfortable. You can give in to the discomfort and end up in a crappy relationship or learn to manage it while choosing actions that serve you and honor your integrity. It’s up to you. What’s it going to be: short run or long haul?


He is quiet for a moment.

I was thinking there was something wrong with me but I’m really just human, aren’t it? So, how do I manage those feelings?


Journal. Say out loud, ‘This feeling sucks,’ ‘I hate feeling lonely’. Cry. Talk to a friend. Go for a walk or work out. Eventually you will learn that you can manage them and that makes you feel really confident when it comes to relationships.

I do believe that Love is a choice to some degree, but the more important choice here is to evaluate your feelings and your actions separately. Don’t let your feelings talk you into doing something that soothes the anxiety of loneliness in the short run, but goes against your integrity in the long run.

MELINDA smiles.

I know you’ll do fine.

Learning to Love isn’t always easy. Sometimes we have to learn to tolerate discomfort in service to a bigger objective. Feelings are just feelings, there is nothing wrong with having any of them. It’s what we choose to act upon is truly Love Applied.



  1. I love that your advice is to learn to cope with the discomfort, in service of the bigger objective. We all need to find the patience to do that, whether it’s the discomfort of NOT being in a relationship, or starting an exercise routine. Discomfort ain’t the worst thing in the world.

    • melinda! says:

      I SO agree with you, Beverly! It can sure feel like it, though, sometimes:-) I know that I had a lot of strategies for avoiding it…and of course I consequently felt stuck. The really cool thing about learning to tolerate discomfort is that you end up feeling so much stronger, and have new possibilities open up to you–often the very thing you’ve been wanting all along:-)

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Erniebee says:

    Just like Beverly, I’m hooked on the words “”in service of the bigger objective”. It reminds me of my recent weight loss. When I started on the Ideal Protein Diet on December 7 of last year, for the first 2 to 3 weeks, there was major discomfort. In my eating routine, in what I ate, the change in my social life of not being able to go eat out with the gang as much anymore. At one point, I almost gave it up. That’s similar to going with the “crappy relationship” to avoid the uncomfortable feelings. Well, by the grace of God, I managed the uncomfortable feelings and now am 63 lbs better off for it. I now am more healthy, more energetic and more joyous in my daily attitude. Because of sticking it out for the ‘bigger objective’. Thanks M

    • melinda! says:

      You are living proof of being “in service of the bigger objective”, Erniebee!

      I appreciate your comment:-)

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