What exactly is the problem with love?
It’s one of the main forces that drive us as we move through life. Yet somehow we spend most of our adult lives trying to figure out how to love and be loved.
And yes, both are necessary.
We grow up with different ideas constantly thrown at us about what love should be. We see it on our television and movies, we hear about it in our music, we read about in our literature… I think it’s safe to say that humans have been obsessed with the subject since the beginning of time.
Obsessed, but also oblivious at times.
We have even gone as far as to figure out formulas, tests, and charts that might get us closer to cracking the code, but things fail regardless of how “compatible” people might initially be. Now, to top it all off, we have added social media and constant unrealistic comparisons/expectations to the non-existent equation that we have come to call “love.”
We have a stream of constant “picture perfect” data fed to us from all social media platforms and most of our social interactions as well. People try to put their best foot forward when in public and because everyone else is doing it too, no one really thinks that people have arguments or struggles like they do. We feel alone when we have disagreements and therefore our fuses are shorter, we blow up in ways that make matters worse, and we cease to see the point in continuing to choose them.
Or we can do the opposite (and possibly the most damaging) by actually disregarding the constant fights and lack of trust/respect because we romanticise the momentary good that we experience. We live through the experiences that we post on social media or when we are out in public and fail to acknowledge the wounds that never even begin to get a chance to heal prior to the next damaging outburst.
We stay in damaging relationships for far too long because we are afraid to be alone… only to realize that the longer we stay, the harder it also becomes to heal from the trauma that is caused. We get in relationships that will distract us from the healing process… we take them on as projects, but then we realize that we are now the one causing the trauma to someone else due to the pain that we still experience.
It’s a vicious cycle of pull and push, and we want what we cant have.
When we have something good, we don’t want it because we find something to miss… we can always find something more to want. When we have something bad, we just can’t seem to give up because we have to convince them of our worth before we go (and rarely will you).
We base things on the superficial and on the temporary. We look with our eyes, but not with our hearts… and much less our minds.
So where do we go from here?… when it seems like all the odds are stacked up against us.
Realize that love is a verb.
STEP 1: Make a consistent decision to work at it, TOGETHER.
Think of life as a marathon.
Love is about finding a running buddy that will be able to work with you, that wants to work with you, and that will commit to sticking with you through the difficult parts that you will both go through. You’re in it together. Every turn is a consistent decision you make to help encourage each other through it all, and hopefully make the experience more pleasant for each other too.
The tricky thing is finding someone that will do that for you in return as well.
Love will be a constant work in progress because we are ever-changing beings. Both individuals have to consistently decide that they want to work with each other, and much of that work will involve both meeting each other halfway. A relationship isn’t about one person always getting it their way. Remember, we want a loving relationship, not a dictatorship. We want to learn from each other, not constantly dominate or put each other down.
Love is about willingly deciding to put someone before you, but also trusting/knowing that they are doing the same for you. If both aren’t on the same page, then someone will always end up grossly neglected and damaged by the end of it all.
That is when sometimes love does lead us to leave someone behind. As much as you are willing to put them before yourself, if they are not willing to do the same for you, there will never be a healthy amount of compromise in the relationship.
What are ways in which you can consistently decide to work with your partner?
How can you meet them halfway more so?
Can you trust your partner to do the same for you?
STEP 2: Look at how well you don’t get along.
I feel that this is what messes us up the most. People base things on how good things are when they are good, but in reality, what we should pay the most attention to is how things are at their worst.
We need to acknowledge issues and find resolution in some way (to make amends).
A healthy and loving relationship will engage in conflict differently. According to the research that Dr. John Gottman has done on married couples since 1970, “the Masters of marriage” start conflict more gently and they make repairs in both minor and major ways that highlight the positivity in their relationship.
Anger isn’t what is damaging to a relationship when there is conflict… but criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling definitely do cause damage (check this article out for more information on those: The Four Horsemen).
Here is a list of interactions that stable couples tend to more so exhibit that helps balance things when arguments arise:
- INTEREST– be curious about what actually upsets each other so that you can work together to resolve the actual issue.
- AFFECTION– physical and verbal affection actually reduces stress. Use it to help keep situations from escalating.
- DEMONSTRATE THEY MATTER– the “small things often” rule will definitely help balance conflict that will inevitably happen in any relationship.
- INTENTIONAL APPRECIATION– everytime you give each other a positive compliment, it’s like depositing into a “savings account” that will help when you encounter conflict. You can each “withdraw” from that when things get hard. Appreciation is key.
- EMPATHIZE AND APOLOGIZE– try to understand and see how your partner’s feelings can make sense, even when you don’t fully agree. Just expressing that it can make sense helps. And if you hurt them, apologize to start the healing process.
- ACCEPT YOUR PARTNER’S PERSPECTIVE– respectfully acknowledging their view doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree, it just means that you understand that they can have a different perspective on the matter. And that’s okay.
- MAKE JOKES– find ways to laugh together. It will ease tension and help when conflict arises.
How well do you and your partner handle conflict?
Which of the “Four Horsemen” do you see in your life?
What interaction can you commit to more so engage in to help balance conflict?
STEP 3: Love like you were created for one another.
Yes, I am a hopeless romantic.
If you are willing to consistently decide to choose someone…
If you are willing to invest in them and work through the issues in a respectful manner…
What would keep you from loving them like they are your soulmate?
I truly believe that love is not subject to reasons. If your significant other is hardworking, dedicated, smart, loyal, and kind… does that mean that you will love anyone else that will exhibit those same character traits?
Leaving any God, prophet, or whatever higher power you might (or might not) believe in out of this… there is still something that remains inexplicable when it comes to falling in love.
Yes, there are neurotransmitters that are going crazy when we engage in novel experiences with people or when we are intimate with them, but that alone isn’t what love is made of. That isn’t what makes love last.
We also can’t decide to love just anyone.
I like Aristotle’s phrasing best… “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”
If two people decide to choose each other in the same way and continue to respectfully work through the difficult times that they may encounter, that is nothing short of magic in my eyes.
…Maybe there is a hint of predestination in here.
I feel that believing in being meant for each other helps us express love in the manner that we probably should have all along. It helps us not hold back, because when we hold back, we also can risk damaging something that could have worked otherwise.
What do you have to lose?
Life is about living and loving and taking chances.
SO, I DARE YOU TO LOVE.
Life is a marathon… would you be a good partner through it all?
What are ways that you can “deposit some currency” into the conflict resolution fund?
Do you treat your partner as if they are your soulmate?
How can you more so?
LEAVE YOUR ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS.
Join me on this journey,