Updated: Jun 1, 2021
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been in love with the idea of being in love. The hand holding, kissing, words of affection, I am here for ALL OF IT. I had convinced myself that if the show of affection was there, what I had was real love. As I grew older, I became fully aware that REAL Love is sooooo much more than public displays of affection, it is a way of being.
In 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a, REAL LOVE is defined. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
When I read this scripture and compared it to some of the relationships I have had over the years, I came to realization that real love was rarely present in ANY of them. I was so caught up in my limited definition of what real love was, that I subjected myself to relationships based on a mutual need agreement. In exchange for the physical affection, I was willing to put up with deceit, selfishness, being embarrassed, mistreated and undervalued. It wasn’t until I discovered my true self worth and began showing REAL LOVE to myself first that I was able to change the way I was expecting others to treat me. Once I set the standard, it was easier to not get caught up in relationships where I was not valued according to my worth. I learned a couple of lessons along the way that empowered me to love wholly.
Lesson #1: A healthy relationship is not one sided
If you are always the one making the sacrifices, taking the initiative or be asked to prove yourself in the relationship, you are not in a healthy relationship. For far too long, we have been taught that love is suffering. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although we will go through rough patches in even the healthiest of relationships, suffering should not be the key trait when you think of your companion. I remember spending my last for one of the guys I was dating. He told me that since I was out of money, he no longer had a use for me. The terrible part about it is that I took pride in being able to give him the things he wanted. But hindsight showed me that the same assets I gave to him, he was not willing to do 1/10 of that for me. REAL Love reciprocates.
Lesson #2: If they tell you they are not ready for a relationship, BELIEVE THEM!
I don’t know how many times I have heard the tragedy of a woman coercing someone into a relationship and the mess she is left to clean up after he leaves. For some strange reason, we have convinced ourselves that we can change people. You may be able to temporarily change some behaviors but overall, how that person is, is how that person REALLY is. I, too, have had the experience of trying to change a man-ho into a husband. I loved him hard and compromised my character and dignity to make him happy. If it was serving his purpose of getting what he wanted, he was happy to let me do it, no matter what the cost was to me. If a player decides to turn in his player’s card, it’s because he wants to, not because you made him.
Lesson #3: Hurt people, hurt people.
You have probably heard this saying before and it is 100% absolute truth. If you or your partner are not healed from past hurts, you will drag all that poison with you into the current relationship. I remember yelling at my then boyfriend, now husband for something he had not even done. But because my ex-husband had done what I was accusing him of before, I automatically thought that would be my boyfriend’s default behavior. After a few other occasions where this happened, my boyfriend looked at me and said with the deadest serious face I had ever seen in the 5+ years I had known him then, “I’m not him and I don’t want to have to pay for what he did to you for the rest of our lives.” His words jolted me. He was right. What happened to me before me being with him had nothing to do with him. It was up to me to work through them. Take the time to do the work and heal prior to jumping into another relationship. Not doing so will only add to the cycle of hurt people, hurting more people.
Remember, you set the definition of what love is and how you let it be shown to you. Aim high and choose wisely