We spend a lot of time worrying about what we’re going to get out of love.
We’re looking for commitment. Stability. Long-term partnership. A guarantee that someone’s going to walk into our lives and then never walk back out.
It’s in our nature to cling to what we love – this is an evolutionary trait that has been programmed into us since the beginning of time.
And yet it’s one that gets us absolutely nowhere.
Because here’s the thing about love: Its longevity is never guaranteed.
You could have a ring slipped on your finger, pop out several adorable children, be the world’s most picture-perfect couple and then have that lover get hit by a car one Tuesday morning and lose them a thousand times quicker than you found them.
Nothing about love is ever set in stone. And yet we expend so much energy trying to ensure it doesn’t go anywhere.
And the problem is that when we love with the goal of securing a commitment from someone, we are loving them with an agenda.
We aren’t just appreciating that person for who they are, we are looking at them as a means of achieving stable validation, companionship and support. We love them for what they could bring to our lives. We love them conditionally. Whether we’re willing to admit that or not.
And the problem with this kind of love is that it’s never going to leave us satisfied – because it’s always going to be rooted in anxiety.
It’s always going to be give-and-take, push-and-pull, I’m-happy-as-long-as-I-have-you and I’m-anxious-as-long-as-I-don’t.
And the kind of love worth having shouldn’t work that way.
Because real love doesn’t have an agenda.
Real love happens when – and only when – we are willing to give up the expectations we have for someone else and simply appreciate him or her for who they are.
We have to be willing to drop our pre-conceived expectations – our desires for a boyfriend or girlfriend or life partner or companion – before we can truly appreciate what’s incredible about a person. To see them holistically – not as a means to an end, but as a human – one with complex needs and desires.
One with opinions and passions and fears.
One who could change our way of thinking, if we’d let them. One who could light up our worlds if we’d allow them to.
Because the thing is, it’s incredible how kind people can be when we’re not expecting them to move mountains for us. How funny they can be when there isn’t any pressure to make crowds roar. How honest people can be when they don’t have any motivation to be dishonest, and how magnanimous they can be, despite all of the ways in which they’re broken – if they don’t have any reason to need to hide their flaws from our sight.
Anyone is imperfect under a microscope – and when we’re desperately trying to fit someone into a certain role in our lives, it’s always that microscope we’re placing them under.
We’re wanting them to say a certain thing, behave a certain way, showcase their affection in a very particular manner – rather than taking a step back and simply appreciating the ways in which they’re already doing so.
Because people are pouring out love constantly – in the jokes they make, in the initiatives they take, in the moments when they’re sitting silently beside you but it isn’t the least bit uncomfortable.
And if we could unclench our hands from that ‘Find love now’ agenda, we’d be able to appreciate those moments more fully. To allow our relationships to form more organically. To truly appreciate people for all their quirks and intricacies and charms, before rushing to assign them a particular role in our lives.
We have to love people without an agenda because it’s the way the best people deserve to be loved.
And it’s the only route to letting any kind of love worth having in.