Before I met my husband, I had no idea what it was like to be in a healthy, loving, adult relationship and I haven’t had one since he died. That’s not what this is about, though. This is about what I’ve learned about love over the years. Some of those lessons hurt a lot. The painful lessons I’ve learned about love taught me what I do and do not want in a relationship.
I’ve been in some pretty low places – not because of love but because of feelings I mistook for love. During my younger days, I confused lust for love more than once. If you can’t stand the sight of each other unless sex is involved, it’s probably not love. Yeah, I know, that burning desire is a great thing to have in a relationship, but the entire relationship can’t be based solely on that. It won’t last.
I often confused ‘settling’ for being in love, too. I’m working on a big art show for the spring and part of one of my pieces involves pages from my journals from as far back as 1999. I was flipping through them and it shocked and saddened me how many times I wrote about one man or another that I was ‘in love’ with, when clearly, I was just settling. If you’ve ever had the honest thought, ‘Well, hell, at least I have somebody’, it’s probably not love. Don’t settle. You don’t have to.
I’ve put his happiness and fulfillment above my own. Real love won’t ask that of you. The dreamy-eyed, romanticized notion of love will have you sacrificing your dreams, abdicating your throne and cutting off your freakin’ ear for someone else. However, real, grown-up, mature love won’t call for any of that. If you’re killing yourself to please your partner and no regard is given to you or your needs, chances are, it ain’t love. Love at its best is a mutually satisfying and enriching endeavor.
Love won’t require you to demean yourself in any way, shape or form. Love won’t abuse you. Love won’t ask you to accept infidelity. Love won’t say ‘I can’t live without you’, that’s what obsession says and obsession is not love. Love won’t set out to hurt or embarrass you. At the first sign of trouble, love won’t say, ‘Peace, I’m out!’ love will say ‘Let’s try and work on it – together.’ Real love won’t say ‘You complete me’, it will say ‘You complement me’. Yes, I know, that line in the movie made us romantics swoon and go ‘Awwww’, but you can’t complete another human being and would you even want to? I want a man to come to me whole, healthy and complete and I will be the same to him.
Let’s look at love through different glasses – grown-up glasses.