How do we know if what we are giving or receiving is love?
Love is sold to us in songs, movies, books and advertising as all-consuming, captivating and wish fulfillment.
It is promised to us by people who don’t really have a clue about love, maybe they never saw it in action growing up, but they might feel other intense feelings when around us.
Recently I have been thinking a lot about this and the examples of “in love” people I meet in therapy and see in my outside life.
The image below made me think seriously about what we put up with and give out as love in today’s society and also about how relationships that don’t work for us can teach us alot about what love is and what love is not.
This can be a lesson for how we give love ourselves and what we tolerate from others in the name of love.
It is hard to know what love really constitutes and to give a definition here probabaly just wouldn’t do it justice.
It’s probabaly easier to talk about what love is not, rather than to say what it is!
By saying what it is not perhaps we will come to a better understanding of what we need to really look out for.
Remember we can be in love, and be love, but in some moments and reactions we are not loving, we are in pain or something else.
Its important to know the difference so because these other things can be toxic.
What love is not:
Love is not possessive-ness. Not a sense that we need to have someone all to ourselves or take them away from other people that do them good but cause us anxiety.
Love is not being so angry with someone we would hurt them because they didnt make us happy, wanted, etc.
Love is not demanding someone should change to suit us, our preference or our styles. It is not making someone fit our ideal.
Love is not needing the other person to be constantly around for us and fulfill our every emotional or mental need.
Love is not treating someone like a figure from our past who treated us badly.
Love is not paranoid or overly jealous, snooping and controlling.
Love is not selfishness or sabotaging the one we supposedly love to make ourselves feel better.
Love is not holding someone back from expressing who they are, or put downs, humiliations or attacks.
Love is not stalking, harassing, coercion, manipulation, gaslighting or pressure to get them to act as we choose.
Love is not using others against someone or turning others against someone.
Love is not heavy demands for the sake of being in love, this is dependence and not love, love makes no demands.
Love is not a contract you make someone sign and hold to. Commitments and monogamy yes, but not love. Someone is free to love us or not it is their choice.
Love is not needing to be right, to be in charge or to have control.
Love is not fearing someone’s growth for fear of how it might impact us.
Love is not revenge, settling the score or getting one back.
Love is not bringing drama, mind games or deceit when we dont get what we need.
Love can be many things and expressed in every moment but it is not these things.
Check the signs:
If these signs existed in a past relationship don’t confuse that for love.
Dont confuse these things for our own or someone else’s love in the present either, and if it doesnt feel right call it as it is. Don’t call it love.
Call it: I’m scared, I’m weak, I’m needy, I need help but don’t degrade love which is the most powerful unselfish force in the universe when used for the benefit of another human being or cause.
Be honest if we don’t love someone and honest if we do! Who knows when the last time we get to say it will be. Have relationship boundaries.
For anyone struggling with issues like those outlined above please know that these struggles are common.
Romantic love confuses us all and can be hard to wade through in today’s society and especially when it has gone wrong and we have been hurt by someone who claims to love us.
As a therapist I work with clients on issues such as this, relatioships, anxiety, depression, stress and self esteem.
I am always delighted to chat to clients about how with the help of some therapy these things can be worked on.
We all deserve love but we also need to be able to spot when we ourselves or others are not acting with love.
It could save a relationship or for some it could save their life.
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Many thanks for reading
Anxiety is like a merry-go-round, going nowhere, its time to step off