Thought Catalog

You Shouldn’t Have To Tell Someone How To Love You

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Mink Mingle

Someone I love deeply calls me. She tells me her heart is broken, tells me he’s trying to win her back but he asks her what she needs, how he can earn her trust, what he can do to make things right. I listen. I remind her of her worth. And then I get annoyed. Because I can’t help but wonder why this man hasn’t already tried a million and one things. Why hasn’t he bought her flowers? Why hasn’t he texted her every morning and every night and even during the day, just to show he’s thinking about her? Why hasn’t he written her a letter, or taken her to dinner, or bought her favorite candy bar and snuck it into her purse, or asked if he could take her on a date to the hill to lay on a blanket and watch the stars? Or reminded her, over and over, how he messed up and doesn’t want to lose her?

As I listen, I go through a million and one opportunities he could have had to win her back, all the words he could have said to ease her worried mind, all the little things he could have done to show her that she matters, exponentially, to him.

She cries. She yells. She tells me what she wants, tells me that she’s told him what she’s scared of, how she’s been hurt, the way her heart aches from mistrust and brokenness and he’s done nothing. She tells me she wishes she could just show him what she needs, tell him all the ways to love her.

And I can’t help but think that’s wrong. Because she shouldn’t have to tell this man how to love her, how to make things right. She shouldn’t have to make him see how he’s hurt her, show him how to fix what he’s broken.

She shouldn’t have to explain anything at all because as someone who supposedly loves her, he should already know.

As I listen to her talk, I think of my own relationships. I think of people I made excuses for, believing that because I was his first love he wasn’t quite sure how to care for me, or because I’m too emotional, he wasn’t sure how to earn my trust, or because I’m sensitive and stubborn, I was difficult to love.

I made excuses. I rationalized. I thought I was the problem. I thought I was asking for too much, loving with too big of a heart that those men didn’t know how to love me back.

But if someone loves you, they’ll love you. They’ll love you in all the ways you need. They’ll love you in all the ways they know how. They’ll love you, and prove this love, over and over because they don’t want to lose you. That’s real love.

We’re all imperfect, but when someone truly messes up, they’ll do whatever they can to make it right. They won’t try to guilt you into believing you’re holding too high of expectations. They won’t flip the script and act like you’re the one in the wrong just because you haven’t forgiven them on their timeline. They won’t make you feel bad for holding them at arm’s length because you’re still hurting.

They won’t ignore what you need because it doesn’t match up with their perception of what they think you need, or of what they want. They won’t take a backseat when there’s problems and act clueless on how to fix them.

See, when someone loves you, they don’t need to be told what to do.

They don’t need to be told how to care, how to treasure you, how to make up for lost time or selfish actions. They don’t need to be told how to kiss you, how to hold you, how to apologize or appreciate or make you feel wanted.

When someone loves you, truly loves you, they do whatever they can to fix things, whatever they can to make sure you know you’re treasured, whatever they can to keep you.

They won’t ask you to specifically recount what you need. They won’t wait for your step-by-step explanation. No, they might not always get it right, but they’ll try, they’ll invest, they’ll take steps towards you, not sit on the sidelines and wait to be instructed.

It doesn’t matter who it is—a new girlfriend, a long-term boyfriend, a wife, a husband, a lover you’re just starting to take the next steps with—you shouldn’t have to tell them how to love you, explain what you need, feel like you’re in a place where you’re constantly bending yourself just to make things work.

If you’re hurting, you don’t need to pretend you’re not just to ease the other person. If you’re broken, you don’t have to brush it off just because your significant other is at a loss of how to fix things.

When someone loves you, they will do whatever it takes to make things right, to make things better, to make your relationship strong and beautiful and whole again.

You shouldn’t have to wonder whether or not you should explain what you need. You shouldn’t feel torn up inside, compromising your true feelings for the sake of ‘getting over’ a bump in the road. You shouldn’t have to call someone you care about in tears because you’re losing a piece of your pride just to stay with someone who isn’t even sure what you need and isn’t trying hard enough to find out.

You shouldn’t have to tell someone how to love you.

Because when someone loves you, they already know. They already try. They already do whatever it takes to be love, fix love, heal love, bring the two of you back to love.

So please stop breaking yourself for him, for her, for the ways your significant other is making excuses instead of giving you what you need.

You deserve real love. A love that doesn’t have to be taught or explained, but one that comes naturally because that person feels so strongly, there’s simply no other way. TC mark

Marisa Donnelly is a poet and author of the book, Somewhere on a Highway, available here.

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