We all yearn for romantic love in life. Very few have found partners that reciprocate that love and even fewer have experienced true, undemanding love. Love without the conditions applied symbol at the corner of the page. Have we ever tried to understand, learn and then teach or discuss what love should feel like? Most of us learned about love by watching movies and TV series that showed us an elusive kind of love, one with loads of drama, emotion, and passion. I have not seen anyone discuss how love should feel with their children or at school. Teachers are only concerned that teenagers must not fall in love with their classmates and hence try their best to move the focus away from topics of romantic love. Sex education is taught but not love education. Most of society is concerned that children should not get misled into love and get abused or taken advantage of. All these are valid concerns but then no one is talking to these children or even young adults about what love should actually feel like. How to distinguish between infatuation and love? How to test these feelings in a safe space? How to know if it is an impulse or actual love?
If we teach these basic dynamics of a romantic relationship to young adults, I truly believe we will create an empowered society, with youth that is not wallowing in grief but youth that creates strong families with value systems that strengthen the society and provide stability to our nations. I really wish we start looking at discussing, debating, talking, and making this a normal part of daily conversation. Change the meaning of dating and move towards stable relationships and marriages that last. I may not know what true love is but life has shown me what love is not. This article is an attempt to bring awareness to this, at least so that you can recognize how love should Not feel like.
Disclaimer: These statements are from a non-judgemental and unbiased place of my heart. These are not absolute definite statements; these are only indicators to help identify red flags and hopefully help people analyze a relationship before committing to it fully. These are drawn from my experiences, and the experiences of friends, family, and clients. These are not to be taken as isolated, one-off instances, these are repetitive patterns observed in relationships.
Love never makes you feel unworthy or small or lesser in any shape or form. We are humans and we have habits or traits that need to be improved, but not by being yelled at, belittled, or ridiculed. If your romantic other constantly mocks your weaknesses, is being unhelpful to actually find a solution, and is being insensitive to your feelings, that is not love.
Love is not gaslighting another’s reality. Gaslighting means when a person denies your feelings. For example, if you were hurt by someone’s action and you are crying; imagine that person telling you, this is not something to cry about, you should not be feeling bad, something is wrong with you for crying. Instead of apologizing, sitting next to you, holding you while you cry, and trying to understand your hurt, if someone is telling you that you are wrong to even feel sad, that is denying your reality. Feelings are just that, they are supposed to be felt. No one can tell you that your reality is not real, at that point in time if you are hurt, you are hurt and have every right to express your hurt. Constant gaslighting is not love, it is domination.
A person can be disappointed with you, but he/she cannot say, “I do not love you anymore. I only care for you”, that is not love. This statement is ridiculous and I have heard it when I went through my divorce. It confused me to my very core. If someone suddenly stops loving you, it means this person never really loved you. Love is present always; it cannot be turned on or off based on external circumstances. People can part ways and still love each other. If you think you truly love someone, ask yourself if you will still love them when they are old, sick, broke, toothless, or homeless, be honest with yourself and you will get your answer. We are not Mother Teresa, we are normal human beings so the idea here is not of universal love, that stuff is way above our heads.
If someone says I will love you only when you get that high-paying job or I will love you only when you lose weight or I will love you only if you move to another city with me, that is not love. If you develop feelings for someone, a strong attraction but then something about them turns it off, it is not love, it is only attraction. Nothing wrong with only attraction, but clarity that it is not love will save a lot of heartache.
If you cannot have an uncomfortable conversation without the fear of losing that person, it is not love. As I stated, love cannot be turned off or on, it cannot be lost or gained. If you say that I cannot share this with my husband/wife because they will not understand me and will leave me, then it is not love. No matter how serious the argument or misunderstanding, love is the ability to talk through the topic and be open to listening to the other person.
If your husband says that his parents are more important because you came later into his life and his parents came first, it is not love. Love is not a competition. It is not about tenure, just because you know someone for 25 years does not make that love superior to someone you met a year ago. Love is about prioritizing. If you prioritize your other half, automatically he/she will prioritize you and your parents and heck your entire extended family.
If the relationship is primarily physical and every time you meet, instead of having meaningful conversations it is always about intimacy, it is not love. Intimacy is great and it is an essential part of a relationship, it can be exciting and all the happy hormones in the body will force you to always engage, but that cannot be the whole relationship. You may enjoy the intimacy and the chemistry might be mind-blowing, but that is not necessarily love. Love is effortless conversation, to enjoy each other’s company just by sitting next to each other. To take interest in each other’s life, to want to know more about each other’s past, present, and future ideas. To just be with each other, even without conversation, and feel loved is love.
There is so much to write about this that I can fill pages and pages more. These few pointers are aimed to make you stop, think and reassess your relationships. If you have been overbearing, dominating, and dismissive of your partner, now is the time to ask yourself and hopefully correct yourself. If you have been accepting bad behaviour because you love your partner, time to stop and reassess, have honest conversations, seek couple counselling, or decide to part ways. I remember a Bollywood movie named Fanaa, which means to be destroyed or lose one’s existence. It was a love story of a blind woman finding true love but the lover turns out to be a terrorist. It was somewhat of an extreme story, but Love DOES NOT mean destroying one’s identity. We are taught just that, especially women and young girls, but if you destroy your identity in the name of love, there will only be one person left in that relationship. Physically you may live together and compromise and be a couple but in essence that will be a lonely union for both parties.
If you take away anything from this article, stop understanding love with the help of movies, poems, dramas, or series, they are all fiction. Interview couples around you who you feel have a successful relationship. Ask them what they understand about love. Talk to people who have failed relationships and marriages, and ask them what that taught them. Listen to podcasts, interviews of psychologists and relationship coaches and in the end, draw your own framework of what love is for you. Remember you are human, so avoid any over idealistic notions of love and sacrifice, love exists only where self-respect exists and only where your identity exists. Compassion, respect, patience, communication, kindness, space, non-judgemental, consistent, evolving, acceptance, support, faith, and trust are a few words I associate with love. It needs to be both ways, if you are lacking in any of these you cannot complain about the other person.
Recommended reading: I would recommend a small book “ Buddhist Boot Camp” by Timber Hawkeye. He has explained really well about relationships. The quote below caught my eye
Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. Antoine de Saint-Exupery
If you need help in understanding your current relationship or deciding on marrying or divorcing, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am a decision coach, I have helped hundreds of individuals make decisions and understand their life situations with crystal clear clarity. I combine my management experience with the psychic art of Tarot to help you navigate life. You can also pick up my book “In Two Minds? How Tarot can help you decide” to learn about decision-making and how Tarot can serve as a tool. Follow me on: Instagram , Facebook and listen to my podcast- Soulfullythorvi for more interesting content.