As a young girl, like zillions of other young girls, I dreamt that one day I would find Prince Charming and he would whisk me away somewhere magical and lovely and everything would be super awesome because we would be in LOVE.
Fast-forward a few decades and some accrued baggage and heartache, along with the odd tinge of disappointment, I think I’ve wised up a little and learned some things about love. And, about some things that love is not.
Ideally, love should be unconditional and able to withstand the ups and downs of yours and your beloved’s reality and limitations. Love, when it is good, should conquer any and all obstacles. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes, love just isn’t enough to cut it in the real world. And sometimes it is.
In any case, there are some things that LOVE most certainly is not:
1. Love is not always a fairytale
As a young woman planning your wedding, and in the immediate afterglow of the big day, it is all too easy to get lost in the enchantment and wonder of it all, and believe that life will always resemble the way it is right now in your life.
Throw in a few years’ worth of unresolved arguments, sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, difficult teenagers, horrible in-laws and whatever else … and slowly but surely the fairytale starts eroding before your very eyes.
Love - especially long-term love – is messy and painful and hurtful and downright exhausting at times. If you are blessed, there will be glimpses of the fairytale from time to time. This is what we should always be striving for. But we would be naïve to expect this kind of standard on a day-to-day basis. And if we did have it every day … then just maybe we wouldn’t appreciate the magical moments when they did occur.
2. Love is not supposed to make you happy all of the time
If you are expecting that love from another person will make you happy and keep you in a joyous state all of the time, then you will most likely be very sorely disappointed!
Life is full of ups and downs, and our feelings and moods naturally fluctuate as a result of many things, including these ups and downs. Just as it would be unfair if somebody relied solely on you for their happiness, you shouldn’t rely on another person’s love for your happiness.
Romantic love is wonderful when it is going well. But there will be many times that it does not go so well. This kind of love will make you swoon, laugh, cry and cringe, but one thing it will not – and cannot do – is make you happy 100% of the time.
Happiness must come first and foremost from within. If we can master the art of loving ourselves, and of being happy and comfortable in our own skin, and with our own company, we will most certainly be giving ourselves the best chance of living a happy life.
3. Love is not supposed to be hard work all of the time
Okay, so we can’t expect to be living the fairytale, but neither should we be putting up with a whole lot of heartache and wasted effort, with little or no joy in return.
In my book at least, love is compromise. There are the obvious things that we all should be doing when involved in a partnership - stay faithful, show respect, give love and affection to the one we’re with. These things should not be “hard work”.
If we’re not prepared – or able - to give and do these things on a pretty consistent basis, then maybe we shouldn’t be in the relationship we’re in. And, it, of course, goes both ways – in order to give and do, we also need to be receiving. This is the basic stuff.
However, if the relationship involves a lot more work and effort than the basics – if you find yourself in a constant battle of wills, with lies, deflection and bad behavior the norm, then maybe this relationship is not right for you.
4. Love is not your savior
Because YOU are your savior. Love is nice, love can be grand, but the truest love we will ever find will (or should) come from within. If we can be happy and find joy within ourselves, any outside love we do happen to stumble across will be an added bonus.
So, be your own best friend. Take yourself out on dates. Don’t look for a man to save you – go save yourself. Show yourself and the world that you are a gorgeous, independent and self-sufficient woman. Then, just maybe, the one you have been searching for will one day come stumbling right across your path.