6 min read
The Beatles made a lot of sense, and made beautiful music, but they got one thing wrong; Love is NOT all you need.
This is a fairly conflicting thing to say considering the name of my website/web-blog. If love is who we are, and yet love is not enough, are we not enough?
Hold on. Don't go there. This isn't about quantifying ourselves. We are better than Paul at math, but not as great as Deborah; in that case, we can compare, on some level, our skill. We are skilled at cooking, but our friend Shelby is much better at painting. These aren't comparitive; they simply are individual skills that bring unique and individual things to the relationships we have with others. Love... well, love is so many things.
Love in relationships is shown in how we express ourselves. We may write sonnets for our beloved, but if they have no love for language, it is a gift not well-recieved. Also it is pointless to write a love-song for the deaf.
But "Love conquers all!" Perhaps... or perhaps it is the patience, perserverence and dedication we have to our partners and ourselves to continue to grow as individuals and together. Perhaps it is the ever-evolving skills of communication, the ever-deepening honesty we find in introspection, and even the less-often seen bravery of seeing our partner not as an extension of ourselves but as a unique and individual person that could leave at any moment.
A friend said that fear and love are closely tied emotions. I didn't quite understand her meaning, so she explained that if you aren't afraid of losing someone -if the thought of them not being in your life doesn't bring some form of fear to your heart- then the depth of love you have for them may not be so deep (at least, romantically speaking). After all, do we really care if George who hangs out at the corner bus-stop disappears? Or do we care if someone truly close to us suddenly leaves our life forever?
Maybe fear and love are connected. Maybe they aren't. (Jury's still out on that one). But there is something to be said for taking our partners and loved ones for granted. We assume they will be there, through thick and thin, for "better or worse", because they said so in some promise. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of neglect. Sometimes this neglect becomes the new normal, and that's where I see a lot of couples in a rut, a loveless and passionateless monotony of life. Marriage or civil union becomes a contract that is more about convenience and comfort than actual passion and love. People find their own lives on the side, and sometimes that leads to infidelity; other times it simply leads to complacency and boredom. More common than I think most people would admit, it also leads to having kids to fill the gap. (I can't tell you how many times I've heard mothers imply that having kids ruined their sex life, their sex drive, and any romance. I also can't tell you -because I'd be telling other people's secrets- how many husbands cheat for this very reason).
Is love really all you need? Or do you also need to be able to look at yourself as you grow and age and be able to check in with your partner and see if this relationship is working for both of you? Are you really all that compatible? Do you allow for each of you to find and walk your own path in life, or are the life choices of one of you driving the direction of the relationship?
So, maybe love is not enough. It is a start, though. After that, you have to find a way to honor and love yourself in an honest way. If you are someone who needs certain things in a partner, but your partner cannot provide those things, you must either compromise and open your relationship to meet those needs (with your partner's consent), or you must let go of the relationship because neither of you will truly be happy. If you are needing more from your partner, you need to make those needs heard. If they cannot listen or will not, try seeking a marriage and family therapist to work together on better communication, or realize that being single and honest with yourself is better than being trapped in a relationship where neither of you can find true intimacy through honest communication.
A few thoughts, for anyone struggling with a relationship that has love in it, but for some reason isn't working:
- Therapy helps. The right therapist is best.
- There are kink-friendly, LBGT-friendly, and poly-friendly therapists out there. I recommend finding a local group online or via Meetup.com for the niche you relate to and asking for a recommendation.
- There are lots of articles and books on relationships. A few that have been recommended to me as go-to's for help include:
- Opening Up, More Than Two, Sex At Dawn, Passionate Marriage, Love & Yoga, Dear Lover, The Way of the Superior Man, Open To Desire, Polyamory and Jealousy: A More Than Two Essentials Guide, Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, The 5 Love Languages, Getting the Love You Want, NonViolent Communication: A Language of Life, and The Ethical Slut (just to name a few...)
- Support groups: If you don't like the term, then just consider it a group of people who hang out and have similar interests. Sounds nice, right? I've learned the hard way that isolation from people who can relate to you can be very negative and cause you to feel like your needs aren't being met even more than usual. Since you are already struggling to get your needs met by your partner, this added burden will be very negative.
Lastly, I just want to remind you, as much as you think your partner is your whole world... they cannot be everything for you. They may be your friend sometimes, your lover other times, your companion, your support. However, no one person can fill every social need that a person has. There is a good reason humans developed large social groups; we need them. So, go find your larger social group and get at least some of those needs met. Love many in the ways that you can, without breaking the contract of your relationship -and if the contract of your relationship isn't working for you, learn to be honest and loving and communicate. Maybe you can negotiate a new contract, maybe you'll move on and free both of you up to find a more compatible mate.
Whichever way your path goes... GOOD LUCK AND MUCH LOVE TO YOU!