Today I want to talk more about the “but I love them” justification that people use all the time as a reason why they should keep striving for a relationship with someone who will NEVER provide the kind of loving partnership that they want and deserve.
Unfortunately, love is vastly misunderstood—and we make all kinds of mistakes based on our mistaken ideas about it.
The truth is, there’s a fundamental difference between loving someone and whether a relationship with them is the right thing for you. They’re not the same thing. They’re not even on the same planet.
And yet, mistaken ideas about love and what it means for our relationships are so rampant, it’s unbelievable.
Here are the five often-ignored facts and misconceptions about love:
1. Love does not conquer all.
If you love someone romantically, you can still be wrong as a romantic partner for them. You can deeply love someone and they can deeply love you, but a relationship between you both can still be a disaster. This doesn’t mean “it wasn’t true love,” it just means that at this time, coupledom between the two of you is not meant to be.
2. Love is not an excuse for acting out.
Sometimes when we fall in love, we get comfortable and feel like we’ve “conquered it” or “won” because the other person loves us back. We tell ourselves that because there’s love there, or we have feelings for someone, we can act out, we can cling, we can generally allow ourselves to act in ways that we’d be embarrassed to admit to our friends.
When we let this happen, we allow our shadow selves to come out and play. We let ourselves go emotionally, and stop protecting the other person’s feelings. When they’re hurt, we justify our shabby behavior with how we truly love them and “they aren’t going anywhere.” Then the relationship goes off the rails and we tell ourselves it wasn’t meant to be or that it wasn’t true love. The truth is that behind closed doors we acted like that person would never leave us and we’re send reeling when they call our bluff.
The truth is, because someone loves you, they don’t automatically have to put up with lousy treatment from you and vice versa.
3. Love doesn’t automatically imply pain.
One big problem is the belief that once you fall in love, you have to overcome obstacles to “make it work.” This is heavily shown in Hollywood’s version of true love, since without a conflict or romantic tension, there isn’t much of a movie to watch. As a result, people manifest all kinds of terrible situations to support the mistaken belief that they need to strive, work and overcome to have a good relationship.
Loving someone doesn’t require that you strive and contort yourself in an attempt to “make it work.” Love is an emotion. Relationships often do require work, but it’s usually more the staying present, communicating and working on one’s issues variety. Not the “convince someone you REALLY DO love them” type so commonly shown in the movies.
4. You are not obligated by someone else’s love for you.
The fact that you two love each other (or they love you) doesn’t automatically mean that this relationship is right for you or that you are obligated to stick around. If the relationship is wrong for one person, it’s wrong for both people.
The fact that you’re going to hurt someone if you leave them cannot—and should not—make you stay if the relationship is wrong for you. Guilt is a powerful emotion that will snuff out your happiness if you let it.
5. Love is scarce and rare.
Love is all around if you choose to look for it. So are people with whom you could have a great relationship. It takes digging, but it’s doable.
If you adopt the belief that you can’t go out and find love with someone else, you’ll cling to bad relationships and make decisions based on lack. Fear based decisions aren’t rooted in the greater good, they are contorted by your mistaken view of the world. And when it comes to romantic love, the results will keep you stuck and mired in what you hope a relationship could be, rather than what it is.
Our fears lie to us. Fear tells us we might never find anyone else and that if we let go, we might never be happy again. This is simply not true. It’s our fear trying to protect us from taking a leap into the unknown.