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This post has been brewing for some time in my mind. From all the emails I get from guys struggling to make sense of their romantic entanglements, I know that there is a lot of misunderstanding out there about love. I could go cliche and say that romantic comedies are ruining us by modeling unrealistic expectations, but it’s not as simple as that. I think it’s more comfortable for humans to live in a black and white world. If we have a clear set of rules to govern all the areas of our lives, we never have to be confused about what to do. But the world doesn’t work that way. Here’s Part One of a series (yes, there will be more) where we’ll explore common beliefs about love…and why they’re wrong.
“If she loved you, she wouldn’t hurt you.”
False. People who love each other hurt each other all the time. Girlfriends cheat. Boyfriends lie. Wives say mean things. Husbands act selfishly. A person can do all these things, and more, and still love the person they’re with. (Note that I’m NOT talking about abuse; that’s different, and definitely is not a part of loving or being loved by someone.) Being in love doesn’t take the human out of you. We all mess up in our relationships with other people. What we have to decide when we or our partners mess up is, is this fixable? Is this worth the time and heartache it will take to mend this relationship? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I mean, if your other half routinely cheats and lies it makes him or her a pretty shitty partner, for sure, let’s be clear about that. Which leads me to my next thought…
“You should be with the person you love.”
Another potentially untrue statement. People fall in love with other people who are terrible for them. Attraction is bizarre, unpredictable, and often nonsensical. We fall in love with people who have different values from us, with people who are terrible to us. We fall in love when we’re not ready to make a commitment; we fall in love when geography and family stand in the way. That’s why it’s so important to keep in mind that just loving someone is not enough to make a relationship work or worth it. Good advice for anyone who finds themselves returning to a toxic partner. You can love someone that you should not be with.
(uh, spoiler alert?) Rick lets Ilsa go–even the greatest couple in movie history isn’t meant to be.
“Love shouldn’t be this hard.”
Sure it should. Love is the greatest thing on Earth. It is. There’s nothing like it, nothing better than love, in any of its forms. The world is organized by relationships in contrast. Day and night, hot and cold, smooth and rough. Because love is so great, it also has to be so bad. Not all the time, that’s not sustainable. But love is really hard, make no mistake. It’s hard to make a relationship work and to maintain it over time. Often, it’s worth it.
“The opposite of love is hate.”
Nope. Love and hate are very closely tied. Sometimes indistinguishable. Need proof? When someone you’re really into breaks up with you, you’re initially bummed out. You spend a week moping, crying, drinking, scraping your dignity off the floor. That second week? You are pissed. You. Are. Pissed. That b*tch doesn’t know how good she had it. Do you know how much crap I put up with from that f*cker? Your hate is directly proportional to your love for the person who’s gone. The opposite of love is indifference. This is why a year or two after you break up with someone, you usually don’t feel much investment in what they’re doing.
We’ll explore Part Two of this same topic in a few weeks, stay tuned…
Got something brewing in your life? Send me an email–style, etiquette, relationships–I answer it all:firstname.lastname@example.org