As we’ll see throughout the rest of this article, everything that makes a relationship “work” (and by work, I mean that it is happy and sustainable for both people involved) requires a genuine, deep-level admiration for each other. Without that mutual admiration, everything else will unravel.
The other “wrong” reason to enter into a relationship is, like Greg said, to “fix” yourself. This desire to use the love of someone else to soothe your own emotional problems inevitably leads to codependence, an unhealthy and damaging dynamic between two people where they tacitly agree to use each other’s love as a distraction from their own self-loathing.
We’ll get more into codependence later in this article, but for now, it’s useful to point out that love, itself, is neutral. It is something that can be both healthy or unhealthy, helpful or harmful, depending on why and how you love someone else and are loved by someone else. By itself, love is never enough to sustain a relationship.
2. Have Realistic Expectations About Relationships And Romance.
“You are absolutely not going to be absolutely gaga over each other every single day for the rest of your lives, and all this ‘happily ever after’ bullshit is just setting people up for failure. They go into relationships with these unrealistic expectations. Then, the instant they realize they aren’t ‘gaga’ anymore, they think the relationship is broken and over, and they need to get out.
No! There will be days, or weeks, or maybe even longer when you aren’t all mushy-gushy-in-love. You’re even going to wake up some morning and think, “Ugh, you’re still here….” That’s normal! And more importantly, sticking it out is totally worth it, because that, too, will change. In a day, or a week, or maybe even longer, you’ll look at that person and a giant wave of love will inundate you, and you’ll love them so much you think your heart can’t possibly hold it all and is going to burst.
Because a love that’s alive is also constantly evolving. It expands and contracts and mellows and deepens. It’s not going to be the way it used to be or the way it will be, and it shouldn’t be. I think if more couples understood that, they’d be less inclined to panic and rush to break up or divorce.” – Paula
Love is a funny thing. In ancient times, people genuinely considered love a sickness. Parents warned their children against it, and adults quickly arranged marriages before their children were old enough to do something dumb in the name of their emotions.
That’s because love while making us feel all giddy and high as if we had just snorted a shoebox full of cocaine, makes us highly irrational. We all know that guy (or girl) who dropped out of school, sold their car and spent the money to elope on the beaches of Tahiti. We all also know that that guy (or girl) ended up sulking back a few years later feeling like a moron, not to mention broke.
That’s unbridled love. It’s nature’s way of tricking us into doing insane and irrational things to procreate with another person — probably because if we stopped to think about the repercussions of having kids, and being with the same person forever and ever, no one would ever do it. As Robin Williams used to joke,
“God gave man a brain and a penis and only enough blood to operate one at a time.”
Romantic love is a trap designed to get two people to overlook each other’s faults long enough to get some babymaking done. It generally only lasts for a few years at most. That dizzying high you get staring into your lover’s eyes as if they are the stars that make up the heavens — yeah, that mostly goes away. It does for everybody. So, once it’s gone, you need to know that you’ve buckled yourself down with a human being you genuinely respect and enjoy being with, otherwise, things are going to get rocky.
True love — that is, deep, abiding love that is impervious to emotional whims or fancy — is a choice. It’s a constant commitment to a person regardless of the present circumstances. It’s a commitment to a person who you understand isn’t going to always make you happy — nor should they! — and a person who will need to rely on you at times, just as you will rely on them.
That form of love is much harder. Primarily because it often doesn’t feel very good. It’s unglamorous. It’s lots of early morning doctor’s visits. It’s cleaning up bodily fluids you’d rather not be cleaning up. It’s dealing with another person’s insecurities and fears and ideas, even when you don’t want to.
But this form of love is also far more satisfying and meaningful. And, at the end of the day, it brings true happiness, not just another series of highs.
“Happily Ever After doesn’t exist. Every day you wake up and decide to love your partner and your life – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some days it’s a struggle and some days you feel like the luckiest person in the world.” – Tara
Many people never learn how to breach this deep, unconditional love. Many people are instead addicted to the ups and downs of romantic love. They are in it for the feels, so to speak. And when the feels run out, so do they.
Many people get into a relationship as a way to compensate for something they lack or hate within themselves. This is a one-way ticket to a toxic relationship because it makes your love conditional — you will love your partner as long as they help you feel better about yourself. You will give to them as long as they give to you. You will make them happy as long as they make you happy.
This conditionality prevents any true, deep-level intimacy from emerging and chains the relationship to the bucking throes of each person’s internal dramas.