What is love? What does it really mean? Am I in love? Do they actually love me? These may all be questions you have asked yourself recently, or at one time or another, but have you ever stopped to ask what love isn’t?
1. Love isn’t all you need So many people live their relationships by the phrase “If I have love then I have everything.” This thinking tends to lead to neglecting many aspects of the relationship. Believing that if you “love each other then everything else is perfect” is blinding. There are still aspects of a relationship which have to be maintained and cared for. Compatibility, communication, trust, and the ability to work through arguments or disagreements are all necessary, and love alone doesn’t fulfill these needs.
2. Love isn’t changing your identity Love is not a reason to change who you are. Your identity is important, and a relationship shouldn’t force you to morph into someone else. Yes, there is some level of compromise to be had, but it doesn’t require you to lose what makes you, you. Healthy love respects your values, beliefs, attributes, quirks and all.
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3. Love isn’t just a feeling The feeling of love is strong, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a choice. You and your partner choose to love each other through all the rough patches and struggles. Some days you may feel like not loving your partner, and others you may feel like loving them stronger. At some point, you have to choose whether to love them despite the times when you just don’t want to. Instead of actions driven by the emotion of love, many times your actions will be driven by your choice of loving your partner.
4. Love isn’t always easy Love is easy when the situation isn’t tense and all is going well. But when your partner is stressed and tired after a long day, then snaps at you for not cleaning the dishes or taking the trash out, it is harder to speak to them with love. Your instinct is to be upset and fight back- it takes an effort to choose to react and communicate with love instead.
5. Love isn’t a fix for all your issues Saying “I love you” and making up after an argument are great ways to heal the immediate wounds- but they aren't fixing it all. Love feels good and it makes us happy, but when push comes to shove it requires work to understand one another and effectively grow a relationship that is built on trust, communication, compromise, and understanding.
6. Love isn’t always perfect We all want for our partner to see us as worthy or “perfect”. But love isn’t perfect. It isn’t meant to be either. Your imperfections, both as a unit and separately, are what makes your relationship unique. Realizing that being perfect is exhausting and focusing on growing together will create the lasting bond you are longing for.
7. Love isn’t about ME Love isn’t a thing you give someone, it isn’t just about you being nice or you creating space for them. It is about loving them as they feel and need to be loved. Learning each other’s love languages and how to facilitate those for each other. Love becomes about WE and less about ME.
Love is a great many things, and it is different for each person. What truly matters is understanding each other’s love and what it means together. Creating a bond and drive to work things out even when it seems difficult.