1. A crutch.
It can’t be something you keep around like an emergency kit for when you might need it. Love will wipe your tears away, but it’s rarely the reason you stop crying. Taking on an emotional crutch will temporarily alleviate your pain, but it won’t make you stay with someone because if there’s love between you, it’s contingent on a problem in your life.
2. An excuse to be happy.
Love can provide happiness, nurture your happiness, but it can never be the root cause. He or she can never be the sole reason you cite for your happiness. If it is, your happiness is unstable and entirely reliant on someone else. Love doesn’t carve happiness out of thin air. A depressed person in love is still depressed.
3. An excuse to stay somewhere you shouldn’t.
You know when it’s right to move on from one place. You will know it when you poke your head into the same pizza place, or coffee house, or liquor store you go to every Thursday, and while working your least favorite shift. But when you don’t want to believe it, you grasp at anything and rationalize that you need to be stagnant as an act of love. Love can’t be the only reason you stay. Love isn’t that restrictive.
4. Pretty, perfect or fairy tale-like.
We say that love needs to be compromised, challenged or fought for, but that’s mostly because we like the culminating image of the passionate kiss when you make up. You did it! Your love passed the test, now it’s guaranteed to last. That’s a fairy tale notion, we like to pass off as real. It’s not to say love never has passion and blow out fights. It’s having one and then riding off into the distance is not the formula.
5. An emotional drain.
You can never give anything and not take, even if that’s your default setting. If you are supporting someone else 100 percent of the time, you’re running out of fuel because you don’t have enough energy left to support yourself. Romantic love can survive like this, but not be sustained because if you’re holding the other person up, who’s making sure you don’t falter?
6. Something to do in lieu of a job.
Did the example of Betty Draper’s shaking hands teach us nothing? You can be in love and also be jobless, of course. But you can’t reach out and grab a person and throw your energy into them because your professional life is crumbling and you need to report back to your family and friends that something is going right in your life.
7. A foundation for self-esteem.
There is no denying that having someone who will love you and your naked body unconditionally helps your self-esteem. But it cannot create your self-esteem because at the end of the day, only the person living in your body can give it the validation it needs and deserves. That’s what makes it so difficult.
8. A replacement for familial love you didn’t have.
Family issues show up in the form of separation anxiety, fear of abandonment and a host of other issues you have to fight your own battle against. Having a love of your life can help calm those insecurities, but it cannot remedy them by taking the place of a love you never had.
9. Pure entertainment.
Fun? Yes. Perfectly fine if both parties are on the same page? Of course. Love of your life? No.
10. A love to take the place of someone else’s.
As long as you are running away from feelings you have for another person, you are not fully committed to someone new.