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.