The Short Definition of Love
When you are asked the question, what is love? It can conjure up definitions, quotes, stories, experiences and scripture. And while every single one of those has truth, I'm going to oversimplify the definition today.
Love means putting others first.
There you go. Done.
Bottom line, love means putting others before yourself. Seem too simple? Let's break it down.
When you love someone or want to show love to someone, anyone, you want their happiness. And you are willing to put your needs second to ensure their happiness. No one shows this better than a parent.
Our children eat before we do... Our children sleep before we sleep... Our children get new clothes, haircuts, new toys, new technology and we are playing catch-up; happy with the few moments to ourselves in the bathroom! Lol
No matter how old our children are... you never lose that feeling. I would do everything in my power for my children if that was in their best interest. I love them with every fiber of my being. It comes natural to me.
In our intimate relationships, the same is applied. If you want nothing more than your partner to be happy, and he/she want's nothing more than your happiness, then you have found the right equation.
What things do you do in your relationships to see that your love relationships are your priority?
When you love someone else, you are constantly thinking, what would be in their best interest?
Selfishness thinks only of oneself. Love thinks of others.
It's not about what you can get. The power you can wield. It's about what you can give. How can you help? What can you do to make their life easier? What would make them smile?
It's not about following blindly, or losing yourself within someone else. It's about helping them to shine and you grow from their glow.
Love is shown in similar forms all day every day and can be displayed with everyone you meet.
Love is opening the door for someone else.
...letting someone go in front of you in line.
... buying someone else's order.
Following the simplicity of this rule, sometimes, showing love, by putting others first isn't always easy. At times, there are tough choices to be made still keep their best interests in mind.
By putting others first, does not mean you become a doormat. (That is usually the first argument I get when I talk on this.) It does not mean you have to do whatever the other person says, just to make them happy. It does not mean that you have to go against your beliefs or endanger you or your family in any way. If they ask you to do any of those things, they are not seeing you through eyes of love and you will have to make some tough decisions.
Sometimes you have to make that call to the addiction hotline to get your love some help.
Sometimes it means you have to walk away from an abusive relationship to save yourself.
Sometimes you have to stand firm on a decision if it means the best for your family.
Love does NOT mean to follow blindly. If the other person loved you, was putting YOU first, you wouldn't have to be making these difficult decisions. You can love them, still, and love yourself too. By putting others first, it is a sacrifice. But you shouldn't be in love by yourself.
Recognize love coming back to you. Recognize when it does not.
Love is putting others first. The end. If the ones you are in a relationship with are not putting you first? They are not in love. If you are not putting them first? Guess what? You're not in love either.
Blame It On Any 'Ol Thing
I got my first piece of hate mail...
Don't get me wrong, I've gotten "dislike" mail before. If someone didn't like one of my books or had a differing, intelligent opinion, I've gotten those...
But this one was an all in, all out hate mail. It was a personal attack.
My first reaction was defensive, WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS???
Then I went to sad, Why would he say those things? That's so mean!
Of course, the insecurities kicked in, Maybe he's right. Maybe I shouldn't be advising people. After all, what do I know? I'm nobody special...
Luckily, my brain took over at that point and shut my sensitive heart down!
The long and short of it was that he was blaming me for his girlfriend leaving him. "Because of you, I lost my best friend and lover". That was probably the nicest thing he said in the whole context of the email. The rest was hateful....
Blame is everyone's first response to pain. We automatically look for an outside source we can pin the hurt on to help us deal with it. But things can never reach a solution until we go back and see what our part of the problem was and take responsibility for it. It is not an easy thing to do, but blaming will keep you in the EXACT same place that you are right now.
He went on to say that I was filling her head with stuff like "she deserves better" and that sometimes we "have to be alone until we figure out what is right for us".
Yeah... sounds like something I would say.
Honestly, I don't know specifically who this former couple is but I am thinking that she probably did the right thing by leaving. Because at no point of his rant did he mention that he loved her or was willing to make any changes to win her back. It was all about how his life is miserable without her. That's not love. That's inconvenience.
While this hateful letter was meant to (most likely) tear me down, make me quiet down or maybe even stop me from what I'm doing, but I'm afraid it did a few things in the opposite direction. This is what I have learned from this act of angry opposition:
- While it was probably very difficult for her to leave, she was able to because someone out there gave her the courage to believe in herself. If that was me, I am honored.
- I am doing the right thing. The things that I write are not unique or brilliant, but they are written in a way that the words I write resonate with the ones who are meant to get something from them. What I write and how I write is important to someone, somewhere. And if I am helping even one person, I'm doing the right thing.
- I am becoming a worthy opponent. The Devil is passive until you become a threat and then he begins his attacks. I must be doing something right to get him to turn his attentions to my humble writings. It's okay. I have the Light on my side and it continues to shine down the path I am supposed to be on. (I just have to work on getting a thicker skin!)
- And the writer of the email, you can blame her leaving on any 'ol thing you want to, but the bottom line is: She would have NEVER left you, if you had been treating her right.
Women (in general) are more forgiving. They often give more chances than are healthy. They see the beauty in you and hope and pray it comes to the surface and often stay longer than they should to see it happen. They want and need the security of commitment... It's how we are built. (I know there are exceptions and that is fine, but even the most independent woman want to be needed)
And dear writer of the email that launched an entire blog post-
I don't know if your heart is really broken because she left, or just your pride but here are a few words that I hope will heal your heart.
-I'm am sure that she still loves you and left you unwillingly. From your words, it sounds as if she had to convince herself to step away from the relationship. So, she didn't leave you because she loves you any less.
-I'm also pretty sure she didn't leave you for someone else. She left to save herself. If she DID go to someone else, I can guarantee that it has been building for some time and you just didn't notice that someone else had been giving her the things you were not.
-And finally, if you are unwilling to change or at the very least SEE that you need to change, please, let her go. Don't call her. Don't text her. Don't show up at her job. Don't be her friend on Facebook. Don't try and "just be friends". If you're aren't going to step up to the plate and give her your everything- then give her nothing. Let her go. Let her heal.
-I don't say these things to be cruel, but there is something missing from your relationship and until you find out what that is, she is hurting. And if you love her that should inspire you to do everything in your power to lesson that. Even if that means walking away. If you want to win her back- become the man she SEES in you. But don't woo her back if you're just going to be the same person that hurt her in the first place. Please.
Love is trying to figure out what things you did wrong and CHANGING them because it wasn't working. Love is ALWAYS about the other person. You get love by giving it away. Simple as that.
I'm glad we've had this little talk... I feel much better.
What Love Isn't
Ahh, the month of l'amour... (read in a very thick French accent) Love is everywhere. Flowers, gifts, cards, wedding proposals... February creates the feeling of passion, romance and long lasting love.
I don't want to be the one to pop your shiny helium balloon or anything, 'cause I'll be the first one to go all crazy for Valentine's Day, but just because it is the month that invokes the spirit of love... does not mean that love is what you are feeling!!
Sadly, I am here to tell you what Love. Is. Not.
And it breaks my heart to do so, because I want everyone who wants it to feel those butterflies and goosebumps of love. I want everyone to find that special someone that will stay with them forever- through thick and thin, good times and bad, fat days and skinny days, and all that stuff. But just because it is Valentine's Day does not make it so...
A client of mine had recently gotten away from an abusive relationship. He was both physically and emotionally abusive. He was her addiction. But she finally broke free and moved back in with family for support. She started going to church and became an active participant. Through our sessions she began to realize the destructive behavior and how it impacted her life and the lives of her children. She began to see that maybe this wasn't love, because love doesn't do those terrible things and cause pain to each other. Love only lifts you up. Love never tears you down or manipulates.
She had cut off communication and went out of her way to avoid seeing him and took this time to concentrate on healing. She had to realize that she could live without him, that she was addicted to him lustfully, and that she did not deserve to be treated in such a harmful, manipulative way.
Enter Valentine's Day. In walks Mr. Wonderful with a bouquet of flowers and a shiny helium balloon... oh, and one more thing... a ring. My client went blind, deaf and dumb but still managed to accept his proposal.
"He said he was going to change. The Lord told me to forgive him. If I am supposed to be a good Christian, I should give him another chance. He loves me."
I was speechless. She was in her moment of euphoria so, she wouldn't hear a word I said, so... I'm saying it to you.
What Love Is Not....
Forgiveness. Yes Forgive. Yes, always forgive. Because forgiveness is more for you than the other person. It allows you to heal and move forward and not give others control over your emotions. Yes, forgive. Even in the hardest, most painful of circumstances... forgive. But forgiving is not forgetting. Saying that, hear this- Just because you forgive does not mean that they should stay in your life. Let me say that again. Just because you forgive someone, does not mean they still belong in your life! Not all relationships are meant to last forever especially if they are abusive. You are not being a loving, forgiving person if you allow someone back into your life that is going to continue the same behavior. You know why? You are not loving yourself! That is unhealthy!! You deserve better!! Yes, people can change, but if this is the twelfth time you've forgiven and tried over... chances are, no change is going to take place. You've already proven to them that you will take them back no. matter. what. That is not love. To allow yourself to be treated anything less that amazing... that is not love.
Actions speak louder than words. Just because they say it, doesn't mean their behavior backs up their words. Sometimes we want to hear those words so badly that we tend to turn a blind eye to bad behavior. People can only be artificial for so long. Eventually their real, true self will come to the surface. You know it. You see it... but you chose not to. Those three little words are magic. But if the way they treat you and others contradicts those beautiful words, see it and believe it. It is not love.
Being taken advantage of is not love. When you are someone's second choice, and not their priority, that is not love. If they wait to find out if there are any other offers besides yours before they give you a commitment, that is being taken advantage of. And if you are willing to drop your plans because they called at the last minute, you are allowing yourself to be taken advantage of. If they can't put your first, get out of their way. You deserve someone that will be into the relationship just as much as you.
If you have to try to convince someone to love you... they are not for you. You don't match. It's not necessarily a bad thing! Not everyone is going to get along with everyone else! Don't try to force love. Don't look for things that aren't there. Don't try and change someone into your idea of the ideal mate because you will only be hurt in the end. Love is not forced. You shouldn't have to try so hard to make a relationship work. If there isn't a foundation that you can build on, that is not love.
Disrespect is not love. When someone realizes that they pretty much have a green light to do whatever they want, because you'll always take them back they will continue to respect you less and less. They will wear down your standards; coerce you to have you bend your belief system. They aren't as afraid of losing you as you are of them. When someone disrespects you, it is better to remove yourself from that person. They will never suddenly see your worth. And if you continually drop your standards ("yes, he cheated, but I know he was sorry") they will continually cross that new line. And soon, you will feel shallow and empty waiting for them to love you the way you imagined they would. Let them go.
Love is never hateful. Or abusive. Or harmful. If someone lays a heavy hand on you. That is not love. They may think they love you, they may honestly believe they love you, but love is not designed to hurt. More likely than not, it is an addiction. Addictions are possessive, love is freeing. If someone loves you, they would never, ever want to see you in pain. If they love you, they will not cheat on you. No exceptions. If they love you, they will not leave you. If they love you, they will let you know. You won't have to wonder. If they love you, they will have your best interest at heart. You won't have to force them to want to be with you.
Walking away isn't easy. We all want love. We want to feel the joy of love and sometimes we think that if we just keep trying, we can love someone enough for both people. That is not love. And when you keep trying and keep trying waiting for a different outcome, you only sink deeper and deeper into that loveless hole. They are not going to change. So you either have to tolerate their behavior or walk away, loving yourself enough to start again. I vote for the loving yourself option. The right one IS out there, when you are ready. But you can't really give yourself to someone else to love, when the love is not already there within you.
Don't settle for anyone just to have a someone. That... is not love. Be patient. Take care of you. Do what you need to do so that when love comes along, you'll be ready. You'll recognize it for what it is... and what it isn't.