This is not gonna be too short a read, because, well, as the title suggests, love is some complicated shit. Lost love is THE biggest reason for extreme mental health outcomes. If we did a statistic on how many people in the world are happy in love, would we find that they outnumber those who are unhappy?
It’s possible. Just look around you and honestly go over this: how many relationships are going through trouble vs how many are maintaining the bond? The answer might depress you.
IS LOVE A TRAP?
According to this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce_demography, the number of countries with higher divorce numbers than marriage numbers are in the minority. But it’s not that simple, is it? That’s because there are many marriages that are unhappy, even abusive, despite not ending in divorce.
The thought of love leading to damage is confusing at first. Fundamentally, love is supposed to mean affection, and how can affection allow for sustained periods of severe damage to the point that it often ends in bitter conflict or separation. The answer is not as complicated as one might think. The truth is simply this: although love is “supposed” to mean affection, in the real world, it rarely does.
Let’s look at some of the things that commonly complicate love beyond simple affection.
Life is challenging and unfair. It often leaves us feeling incomplete. Like we don’t have what it takes to feel complete within ourselves. It could be because we lack employable skills, financial security, likable personality traits, likable physical traits and so on. Most of us end up feeling incomplete. Before long, we start looking to others to complete our existence. Although we do this with friends, it affects us more when we do it with partners because with partners we feel intimate and vulnerable in a way biology doesn’t allow us to feel around friends. Traditionally, women are known as the better half.
People are quick to point out that we’re “good-for-nothing.” Everybody’s heard it. So, many of us end up looking for validation from someone else. Validation is basically feeling like your existence is valid. In other words, you wanna feel like you’re not a waste of space. Often, we look to our partners in love for our own validation. They tell us we are cute, good looking, adorable, talented, funny etc and we lap it up as validation of our existence. The general notion is I’m nothing without you or you make me feel special.
(3) Excitement, fun and passion
We all need excitement, fun and passion. We can’t go very long feeling dead. Often, the first time we feel true excitement and passion is when we experience a crush on our partners. These feelings are made even stronger by fun and laughter. Somehow the passion and excitement takes the fun and laughter to intoxicating levels. So much so that we feel hooked to it like a drug. The general expression is when I’m with you, I feel so happy and alive.
(4) Expecting a punching bag
People often expect their partners to be their punching bags. They expect them to tolerate tantrums and outbursts without being offended. Popular phrasing of this expectation includes: why can’t you be there for me?
(5) Expecting selflessness
We expect our partners to put us before themselves. We expect this especially when we want them to provide a certain need that we don’t think we can provide ourselves. In other words, when we want them to take care of us in a way we don’t think we can do ourselves. The expectation of selflessness is commonly voiced using: it’s not all about you, you know?
(6) Expecting no tension or disagreement
A relationship, by definition, means that more than one person is involved, and every person has different needs. Sometimes, these needs conflict and disagree with each other. But the lovers often just stay mad at each other without resolving the conflict/disagreement. They end up forgetting the and, well, repeating the same fight over and over again till it destroys them. A telltale sign of unresolved and accumulated conflict/disagreement is: does it seem lately like all we do is fight? It’s just not fun anymore?
Note that all 6 of the above are normal for any human being in a relationship. But the equation should be something like this:
Notice above that be with me and expect my affection is the biggest component, followed by make it fun, exciting and passionate. The rest are small components that should not happen very often for the love to be healthy.
For the most part, you should be doing your own completion, validation and being a punching bag. You should also, for the most part, not expect selflessness; and, most importantly, expect a fair bit of tension and disagreements (given that different people have different needs).
What is affection?
Well, affection means that you are really bothered when the other person is hurt or in pain. In practice, that amounts to the following:
(1) Being gentle with the other person’s emotions.
(2) Being non-dismissive towards the other person’s concerns.
(3) Having a selfless desire to make the other person happy. Not to receive praise or gratitude for yourself, but simply to put a big smile on the other person’s face.
(4) Giving physical support like a hug, a kiss on the head, holding hands etc when you don’t have useful advice or when they don’t like your advice.
(5) Allowing room for human errors in actions and judgment.
Last but not least, find a partner who complements your personality: otherwise, they are not the right one for you
For example, if you’re an emotional person, find a partner who is more level-headed. If you’re a practical person, find a partner who is not too feelings-oriented. If you are an introvert, find a partner who is also an introvert. If you love talking about a certain subject, find a person who loves listening about it. If you are not funny on your own, find a person who can make you laugh. The theme that runs through here is that find a partner who complements your personality. Relationships are not supposed to leave you feeling defensive.
That wraps it up. Let us know about your thoughts and comments below.