Previously I wrote about some of the lies we have been fed. Especially about how harmful lust is. But perhaps the biggest lie of all is what we have been told about love. And we have been told a lot. Everywhere we turn, the word “love” is being used – in commercials, magazines, restaurants, supermarkets and in relationships. But despite the constant use of this word we seem to have lost what it really means. So often what looks like “love” ends up hurting us. Badly. Perhaps this is because what we label love is not actually love, and we expose ourselves to what we should be protecting ourselves from.
So here are some of the common lies we hear about love and the truth behind them.
1. Love makes you happy.
Love does not make you happy if what you mean by happy is feeling euphoric and on-top-of-the-world. True love brings joy but not necessarily happiness.
If I think about getting up for the 7th time that night to comfort my crying toddler… happy is not the first word that comes to mind. Cranky, catatonic, flustered – maybe. But happy? – no. But it is love. And my child knows it. That’s why despite my exasperated whisper -“why can’t you stay asleep!” I get chubby fingers and a little voice calling “mummy, cuddle” and despite feeling like my eyes may fall out of my head from tiredness I am filled with joy – because I love. And I am loved.
2. Love needs to be earned.
This one is a whopper! Somehow we’ve gotten it into our heads that we need to be “loveable” to be loved. That we need to earn it. Well, we did nothing to earn the Greatest Love and we shouldn’t need to do anything to earn someone else’s. Now I’m not saying it’s ok to do nothing for others – but, when you do something for others it should’t be to earn love but to give love. Without expecting anything in return.
If my husband really loves me (and I believe he does) he loves me just as much when I’ve made his favourite dinner, cleaned the house, arranged a babysitter and taken him out for some quality time as when I’m cranky, tired, irrational and generally acting like a crazy banshee being chased by a rabid dog. (But out of love for him, I try to keep these days to a minimum).
3. Love is a feeling.
Well yes and no. There are lots of feelings involved in true love but they may not be what you’d expect (dread, exhaustion, helplessness, pain…) Love is not a warm fuzzy feeling in your tummy (that could be just a good cup of tea). Love is an action.
Feelings come and go. Love is a choice. If you are lucky enough, you know one of those couples – the couple who has been together forever, who finishes off each others sentences, whose wrinkled entwined hands are only matched by the laughter lines of their faces. Trust me they didn’t get there by feeling ‘in love’. They made a choice and they stuck to it.
Sometimes those couples are no longer holding hands: one’s hands feed as the other’s lie limp. That’s love. Sometimes the only feelings were anger, resentment and loneliness: but they chose love. Sometimes alternatives seemed so much easier: staying late at the office, a couple of drinks, a comforting ear to listen that’s not your spouses. But they chose love. And they did not regret it.
4. Love is about my needs.
We live in a culture which is constantly telling us “you should get what you want! Then you’ll be happy.” So, in relationships we seek to have our needs met. But true love is selfless. It does not seek to have it’s own needs met. Love wants the true good of the other.
“Wait, what? So I should just resign myself to life as a door mat?”
Well, not quite. Loving requires also to love and respect yourself. But in a relationship where two people really love each other, there’s no need to worry about yourself. You’re looking out for your partner, and your partner is looking out for you.
5. Love and sex are the same thing.
Culture constantly tells us “if you love someone you sleep with them.” Or at least in a romantic relationship. Can you remember the last time you saw a movie, tv show, or commercial where people in a romantic relationship were not having sex? And yet the very idea of sex outside marriage being synonymous with love flies in the very face of the definition of love.
If love is wanting the good of the other, we need to know the truth about sex before marriage. It’s not good. Study after study shows the negative effects of sex outside marriage – everything from decreased academic results, depression, drug use, unplanned pregnancies, STD’s, to lower socio-economic status – the list goes on! It’s time to start considering whether our actions are really showing love, or hurting those we claim to love.
6. Love and sex can be separated.
On the flip side we’re also told that you can just have meaningless sex without the “baggage” of love. This lie is so destructive because it totally and completely negates the power of sex. Sex is extremely powerful in binding people together. Sex is body language in it’s most powerful form.
Do you have true love in your life? Or is someone just using you for their own means? Are you really acting out of the desire for the good of the other or are you acting out of desire for good for yourself?
If you’re missing out on true love, what are you going to do about it? Are you ready to make the change? Maybe it’s time to ditch the boyfriend, find new friends or work on your marriage.
One last thing
Have you had a conversation lately with a friend where they complained of “something missing” in their love life? Do them a favour, and share this post with them.
Question: What are some of the lies you have heard/experienced about love? You can comment by clicking here.