“Nothing is possible without love…..For love puts one in a mood to risk everything.” ~Carl Jung
We all want love. I get it. For those who’ve legitimately experienced the feeling of being in love, you know that words like euphoric or intense or amazing can’t do it justice. In our effort to find true love, most of us have probably looked in all the wrong places at one time or another, only to end up disappointed.
We may invest our time going to singles bars, swiping right or left or whatever which way on dating apps, or going on blind dates looking for the perfect relationship. We may leave those bars or blind dates having had a good time — even rehashing a few interesting quips from the night’s events — only to choose not to see them again.
At the end of the day we’re still left questioning whether love exists outside of movies. And, we can wind up questioning ourselves in whether we’ve ever experienced it outside of flirtation or infatuation.
Ask your friends what their idea of love is and you’ll get one answer. Ask your family or mentor or colleagues what their idea of experiencing love is like, you’ll likely get a different answer for each person you asked.
If you go to Google, you’ll quickly fall down a rabbit hole searching for words like “in love” or “love”. Love nowadays, seems to change its opinion as the wind changes its direction. Ironically, in a world where the idea of love is at our fingertips with technological advances, dating services, and app hookups, we should all be more in love per capita than ever before.
Yet, there still seems to be a shortage of those who have legitimately experienced real love.
When It’s About Fun
With infatuation, they want you, they desire you, they may respect you, but there’s no emotional depth and long-term commitment is always left vague, ambiguous. For those of us who’ve experienced infatuation, we know that if we got laid-off from our job, they’ll probably send their condolences or may even offer a movie or dinner to help get our mind off it.
The relationship is lived in the moment and for the moment, so if we’re struggling in finding a job after that night out, or stressed because bills are due, they probably aren’t our person to confide in.
With infatuation, conversations are shallow and awkward silence often fills the air after the flirting has stopped, the sex has ended, and the conversation has lagged. The investment in the relationship usually ends with them making sure we got home safe, or sending an “I’m home” impersonal text.
We may not hear from them for days at a time, and then a cycle starts of Netflix and Chill or a Friday night out for drinks. The “same ‘ol, same ‘ol” begins to identify the relationship at its earliest phases where excitement and learning about each other should be. It’s never “bad” per se in this type of relationship, just too comfortable, too soon, with little else to offer after the initial infatuation wears off.
The relationship will start to feel sluggish, void of any authenticity or intimacy, even boring, because what’s needed for true love and a true relationship are lacking. Within a few weeks or a few months the dates gets reduced, the texts start coming in slower and eventually we mutually move on to greener pastures.
When It’s Unhealthy
Idealization is a real bitch. For those of us who’ve experienced having been idealized, we’re aware of the cycle, the incredible highs, the depth of the lows, and the emotional roller coaster that goes along with it. Is it love? No. It’s dysfunctional. It’s full-throttle excitement and always with a viscous and painful ending. With idealization, the pedestal becomes your best friend and your worst enemy. As the old saying goes, ”The higher you are, the harder the fall.”
Idealization is about extremes of hot and cold, fire and ice. You can go from having conversations for hours, talking about your deepest fears, your biggest regrets or your wildest dreams, to being pushed aside for a podcast. It’s addicting how they can draw your emotions and feelings out of you, impressing you with their compliments, their promises of forever-after and fairy tale endings. Any compliments you receive aren’t about you, but about mirroring parts of your qualities they want for themselves. Promises of forever-after have an expiration date, and fairy tale endings…don’t exist.
You’ll go from being adored one day to abhorred the next; showered with affection today, to chasing validation tomorrow. These relationships usually happen fast, filled with passion, incredible moments of intensity and sooner than later, the dreaded fall from grace where the same things they “adored” yesterday become their ammo today.
Today, you’re showered with everything you want to hear, or need to hear. Your basic needs that may have gone unmet earlier in your life are now being handed to you on a silver platter and it’s addicting, giving you a sense of validation, perhaps for the first time in a while, or the first time in your life.
By the time you recognize the “red flags” you’re in over your head in love and believing their love is genuine. That’s also about the same time you get replaced for their next conquest that was usually already in the works.
For anyone who has experienced idealization, then you know the other side of that coin is devaluation. It’s destructive, painful and can cause trauma. It can damage your view of the world and your view on humanity; your view on yourself. When relationships are unhealthy, what makes you perfectly imperfect and beautifully human that they once claimed to love, are now used against you, making you question everything and trust nothing.
When It’s Love
Love is a funny thing. It can start out as infatuation where you’re both hot for each other and burning holes in the bed-sheets. The intensity is there too, sometimes from the start, but not always. Sometimes the intensity of conversation, or passion, or intellectual stimulation takes time to bubble up, but it’s an amazing climactic moment watching it unfold. Love is the place where you come to for safety, for conversation, for validation, for security, for friendship. Silence doesn’t feel awkward with love, it feels peaceful.
If they love you, they’re not only saying you’re their world, but they’re showing you. Take notice of the little things they do like having your dinner ready when you get home from a long day at work, or waiting until you get home to open Christmas presents if you were called in on an emergency that night. When they love you they’re listening to you and they want to be a better person for you, and for themselves.
They hear you, they know your quirks, they know your frustrations, and they love those things about you. Spending time together is about bonding, intimacy, and growth. Their word and deed add up. They’re there for the good times, the incredible sex. They’re there for the rough times like surgeries and when bills are piling up. They’re there when your cat dies and you’re devastated; they become your strength. They’re pushing you to be a better person, and motivating you on your self-improvement journey. They know your human flaws and love you for your humanness; they encourage you to be stronger than childhood conditioning, survival mode or self-sabotaging habits. Safety and a quiet place of protection is what they offer.
They don’t care if your skin breaks out, or if your tooth is crooked, those are the endearing things they love about you and would never use against you. When they love you, they love themselves, and they understand that self-love is the basis for loving another. You’re their priority, they’re yours. You defend each other not only to each other’s face, but more importantly behind each other’s backs.
When it’s love, it’s raw, and completely vulnerable and authentic. It’s intimate, where you know each other’s pasts and each other’s pain and they’re your person, you’re theirs. True love is about trust — unconditional commitment to each other…they’ve colored your world and you’ve highlighted theirs.
When it’s genuine love, you realize that because they’re your person, you know you’re theirs. There’s no guessing, no assumptions, and no hoping.
This post was previously published on “Hello, Love” and is republished here with permission from the author.
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