Something that I've been pretty intentional about doing, for the past few years now, is not using the word "love" a lot. For one thing, it's a far more powerful and sacred word than a lot of people give it credit for. Also, when it comes to a long-term commitment with another individual, how is it that they get the same word to describe how I feel about them as the word that I used to describe my affinity for ice cream, oxtails or Pumas? If I see my love for them in a similar light as random things, it can be pretty easy to be just about as dismissive about them too. Make no mistakes about it—words have life. We definitely need to choose the ones that we use wisely.
Something else that is wack to me? Blaming stuff that doesn't work out between flawed human beings on love. Love is beautiful. Love is pure. The Bible says that God is love (I John 4:8 and 16). So, when things go awry, it's not love's fault. It's the two vessels that are trying to learn about how to love who need to take the responsibility for how things are going or how they ultimately turn out.
When it comes to the many myths about love, to me, that is one of them—that love is painful or makes us do "crazy" things. And because I'm so fond of love (especially the more I get to know about it), I want to debunk a few other ones, so that we all can learn to appreciate, value and embrace love. The real kind. Not the one that myths and fables talk about. Ready to unlearn to relearn a lil' bit?
1. The Right One Will Be Perfect for You
Personally, I think it's kinda hilarious—and by "hilarious", what I mean is ridiculous—that a lot of people use the word "perfect" when it comes to what they look for in an individual or relationship when they aren't that themselves. While the concept, in theory, is cool (I guess), let's revisit what the word actually means. To be perfect is to be "excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement". No one on this planet will ever be that (anyone who doesn't agree has quite the ego). Besides, you're perfect and someone else is perfect, what do either of you need to be together for? You can't be improved upon…right?
One of the main reasons why a lot of relationships don't work out, isn't because mutual love is missing. It's because one or both of them have some super unrealistic expectations. For one thing, they expect perfection in areas where it's close to impossible for it to transpire. Does that mean that you settle for utter bullshishery? Absolutely not. Yet the goal is to strive to be with someone who complements you and makes you better—who actually challenges you, in many ways, to become your best self. When you can honestly say that your significant other has played a very clear and significant role in your development and that they did so without bringing a lot of drama or trauma into your world, that is when you can say someone is right for you. And right is a whole lot more impactful than perfection.
2. If You’re Not Always Happy, It’s No Longer Love
I've said this before and I'll repeat it again—this "god of happiness" that people seem to worship is gonna really cost them in the long run. The fact that so many people will leave all kinds of people, places, things and ideas, ONLY because they no longer make them "happy"? I'm sorry but that's not really how grown folks get down. Matter of fact, this also falls into the "unrealistic expectations category" because when you're happy, you're delighted and pleased and if you expect a flawed human being to make you feel like that all of the time, I've got two points to share.
One, it's no one else's job or responsibility to make you happy and two, in even the best of relationships, there are good days and bad ones. This means that you're absolutely not going to be happy all of the time. With or without someone, no one is happy all of the time.
The word that needs to be the focus is healthy. When a relationship is healthy, it keeps you mentally stable. When a relationship is healthy, it helps you to prosper. When a relationship is healthy, it also makes you stronger, causes you to feel safe and can even bring wholeness into your world. Folks who've got a few years of marriage underneath their belt can vouch for the fact that you can feel all of these ways about a relationship and still not be happy all of the time.
Yet when you get that love is more than a feeling, it's a commitment (more on this in a bit), you make peace with healthy being your bigger priority. Which gives your relationship longevity in the long run.
3. Love Doesn’t Require Sacrifice
Some of the most selfish people are in relationships—and they absolutely should not be. That said, remember how I stated within this title that I'm debunking love myths today? If you're coming from a spiritual space on any level, then you are probably familiar with the fact that God is love (I John 4:6 and 18). OK, well when it comes to people who think that love means that they shouldn't sacrifice themselves, if you are a bible believer, you know that John 3:16 speaks of God sacrificing his own son for the sake of our salvation. Yep, someone actually surrendered their life for you…out of love. Another Scripture that is similar to this is, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13—NKJV) Hmph.
A lot of us don't even want to make adjustments in order to make our relationship work, so these kinds of sacrifices seem, not only extreme but ridiculous. Yet here's my overall point—there is not one long-lasting relationship (and most certainly not a marriage) where sacrifice hasn't been required. I don't mean sacrificing your values, standards or self-worth. I mean stepping back and realizing that sometimes you've got to shift in what you're doing now for the sake of the greater goal (which is basically the definition of sacrifice). If you're not down to do that, don't put that on love. As I just shared, love is all about sacrifice. So long as it's the right kind and for the greater overall purpose. Make sense?
4. Love Matters More than Like
Love is a big deal. I won't deny that. It's such a monumental thing that it needs to serve as the foundation for your relationship. That said though, don't think for one minute that most people stay in their relationship simply because of how "in love" they are. More times than not, it's actually because they really like their partner, even when they are totally pissing them off. This is why I think it is a huge deal that long-term couples see their partner as their best friend. Someone you have things in common with. Someone you can laugh with. Someone you enjoy spending time with. Someone you trust. Someone you know has your back.
There is a particular married couple that I know who, after about a decade in, they both realized that they should've spent more time getting to know one another before saying "I do." They want to honor the vows that they made/promises that they gave and so, while divorce is not an option for them, something that they do is make sure that singles realize just how critical it is to be friends with their future husband or wife. Matter of fact, the wife tells me often that if her man was not her closest friend, she probably would've been outta there years ago. Still, she likes him. A lot. And so, the mistakes that she realizes that she made on the front end, their ever-growing friendship has gotten them through.
Might not sound like a Hallmark card. You know what, though? It's realistic as all get out. If you like who you love, it can keep you loving them. Again, a lot of folks with wedding rings on can certainly vouch for this very fact.
5. If You’re Not Jealous, You’re Not in Love
I don't know where so many people got the idea that a sign that someone loves them (and that they're in love) is jealousy. Give me a break. Before getting deeper into this particular point, let's touch on what some indications of a jealous person are, shall we? Jealous people tend to be insecure. Jealous people tend to make a lot of comparisons. Jealous people typically don't respect or accept boundaries. Jealous people always want you to prove yourself. Jealous people want to make everything be about them (in order to fill their own voids). Jealous people are suffocating (because they don't know how to give others any space). Jealous people create drama. What in the world sounds "loving" about that?
So Shellie, are you saying that if I see my man talking to another woman and I feel some sort of way that something is wrong with that? Eh. I think the answer to that question is why does it bother you? If the answers are along the lines of you think that she looks better than you or you don't trust your partner, those aren't healthy things either. One is about self-esteem and the other is about not being in as solid of a foundation in your relationship as you should (same thing goes for him, by the way). Listen, when someone chooses to be with someone else, there should be no reason to be jealous. They made their choice. If that's not good enough for you, then that is indeed problematic and worthy of doing some soul-searching about. Real talk. Chances are, you'll realize that not only is jealousy not rooted in love but what you're going through is due to either some toxicity in the relationship that needs to be dealt with or—a lack of self-love.
6. Love Is a Feeling. Not a Choice.
Being led by your feelings. Lawd. You might be surprised how many articles are out in cyberspace that talk about just how unreliable feelings are. My thoughts? I've shared before that a Scripture in the Bible clearly tells us that the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9-10); so no, I am not big on "following your heart" as a life motto. However, whether you're a bible follower or not, I think something that a professor of cognitive psychology said on the topic is a pretty good way to live your life. He said, "Although there may be some truth to the claim that we cannot trust our feelings, suppressing them comes at a cost."
So, what does all of this boil down to? If you think that real, true and lasting love is built on one's feelings, you are probably never going to be in something that is real, true and lasting. Feelings are fickle. Feelings are all over the place. Feelings change…all of the time.
That's why I'm not big on people ending relationships because they don't "feel" the same for someone anymore. Before making any major moves, it's important to spend some intentional time getting to the root of WHY you don't feel the same. If it's just because your partner's been getting on your nerves lately, you probably get on his too. If it's because you're not sexually attracted anymore, you used to be, so what changed? If the relationship isn't what you expected it to be, get honest with yourself about if the expectations are realistic or not.
See love, it's where the big boys and girls play. And what they know is, whether it's a good day or a not-so-good one, every day that you wake up, you CHOOSE to be in your relationship. Choice is about being rational. Choice is deliberate. Choice is about intention. If you solely relied on your feelings when it comes to making a relationship work, trust me—you would've checked out a long time ago. You know, on one of these days when you didn't feel like hanging around. Feelings can't be trusted. Go with reason, logic, truth and facts. Make your choices from there.
7. Soulmates Are Like the Movies
One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from someone who I still haven't been able to find, to this day. Whoever it is once said, "We're all looking for demons who play well with our own." What's so profound to me about that is, a part of what it means is far too often, we tend to resonate with people who validate our weaknesses rather than encourage our strengths. Yeah, that's not good.
And when it comes to romantic connections, this can apply to how people define a soulmate. Thanks—yet no thanks—to Hollywood and Disney, maybe people think a soulmate is someone who is just like them; someone who always makes them feel confident that how they are is how they should be. Yeah, naw. I've spent a lot of time researching and learning about what a soulmate is truly designed to be.
More than anything, a soulmate is someone who serves as a catalyst that brings you to your most authentic self. In many ways, I think that's a lot like being in a refiner's fire. They may cause you to ask yourself questions about whether or not you are fulfilling your purpose. They might "rub you" in such a way that you are able to see character traits that could use some fine tuning or adjusting.
They should make you feel comfortable enough to be completely real with them about who you are and who you need to become—even when it's hard to face certain things about that reality. And all of this will have moments that will not be all warm 'n fuzzy. It can actually be downright challenging. Yet since you can't help but see the growth, it's all worth it. A soulmate will help to nurture your soul. A soulmate brings you to your best self.
And that's where I want to end this. Love? It will always cause you to evolve as a person. It will better you in ways that nothing else ever could. That's not going to be an easy task all of the time. Oh, but it will so, so worth it.
With love being the best thing going out here, of course there are a lot of myths about it. Don't be so caught up in those that you don't allow yourself to be brought to the truth. So that you can experience love as it was meant to be—not what so many lies out here say that it is. Amen? Amen.
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