I have been thinking a lot about love and relationships lately. This quarantine and these intense times have brought up a lot of emotions and a need for respect, empathy, and camaraderie. I hear a lot of people calling for more “love” but I wonder what exactly we are asking for? We all know love as this abstract feeling that holds people together and makes life more pleasant and meaningful, but what is love put into action? Sometimes I wonder if we give the word love too much weight, this intense energy that draws you to someone or something and never wants you to let them or it go has the ability to carry us a little too far away. When we make promises to love each other, we often assume that the love will be accompanied by overwhelming affection and attention, constant love and praise, and this idea that we will “forever” be with each other and there for each other in times of need.
In my experience, loving someone is often not what I expect it to be. We all express love in different ways, some of us prefer physical touch or actions, some of us prefer meaningful conversations and verbal affirmation, and some of us show our love in more practical ways, like always offering favors or giving gifts. It is so easy to feel that the love we give isn’t reciprocated because it isn’t received the same way it is given. I naturally express how much I love people with words and offering my time and energy and emotional support, so when people I love do not offer those same things to me, it is easy to assume that they don’t love me as much, but I’m starting to realize that’s not necessarily true. We can love each other the same amount but express that love through different actions. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to love.
Maybe it’s unrealistic and unfair to put so many expectations on each other, life is messy, and people are messy, so why do we expect our relationships to be so perfect? The truth is no matter how much I love someone, I’m going to say the wrong things, I’m going to hurt them, I’m going to embarrass them, question them and sometimes I won’t be able to be there for them the way I should.
I’m changing the promises I make to those I love because I know it is easier to preach than to practice. I promise to listen and to learn, I promise to own up to my mistakes, I promise to put my ego aside for the sake of us, I promise to be honest about how I feel and I promise to try to love in the way others want to be loved, not the way I want to love them. These are the promises I know I can keep and this is the kind of love I know I can sustain. It will not be perfect but it will be raw and real, and therefore it will be beautiful. Love is just a feeling, it is what we create with it that makes all the difference.