Desire is not synonymous with love. I know that now. But once upon a time I confused the two. And if a man chased me hard enough–wanted me badly enough–it had to be because he loved me. I wasn’t wise or mature enough to consider the other factors that may influence a man’s desire of you, like his ego (or need for shelter).
Just because a man wants you doesn’t mean he loves you. And I’ve had to find that out the hard way. Like my FWB who would show up at my door in the middle of the night and at my job to tell me he didn’t want to lose me whenever I tried to end things; but, towards the end, when I finally had the courage and self-respect to ask if we were ever going to be anything more, like ever?, his response was, “I never saw you as anything more than a friend, and I never saw us in a relationship.” And when I brought up things he said over the years which led me to believe that’s where we were eventually heading, he said, “I said that? Oh, well that wasn’t fair. I’m sorry.”
Oh, no worries, mistakes happen. I’ll just lie here in bed for a week and try to figure out how I keep managing to fuck up this area of my life so royally.
Looking back at my previous relationships, I don’t think any of my exes loved me.
Okay, let me back track and flesh that out a little. Yes, I understand that love and how we experience it is subjective. I am sure they “felt” as though they loved me, and I am sure they wanted to believe they loved me, but love, as a verb, I can’t say I’ve experienced from any of my exes.
Like, throwing all of my and my unborn baby’s shit out of the window while I was pregnant, or kicking me out of your house while I was barely dressed the day I found out I was pregnant. Or stalking me and attempting to sexually harass me after I finally ended things. I don’t think that’s how you treat someone you love.
Or, the super clingy ex who said he loved me, yet was constantly having extremely inappropriate interactions with women on the internet, who faked a suicide attempt to manipulate me into staying with him, and who stuck me with his iPhone 6 Plus bill after we broke up. Yeah, can’t say that he loved me either.
And then there’s the man who went out of his way to convince me he was the one I was looking for, only to say 5 months later and 2 days after introducing me to his mother, “Deep down in my heart I know I can’t be the man you deserve.”
Wait, what? WHAT? Then why did you even…you know what? Never mind.
It’s crazy how deep down the emotional rabbit hole you can be encouraged to go, only to look up and realize the other person wasn’t behind you the entire time like they said they’d be. At some point, maybe only a few feet down, they climbed back up and decided to watch you from the opening. I can’t say that’s love, but then again, I’m only now learning what love is. One thing I can say for sure about love is, it can’t subsist with fear. The two are like oil and water. You cannot be open to the experience of love with fear blocking its entrance. So this ex, who was afraid of our relationship, afraid of losing me, afraid of messing up, did not have space in his heart for love because fear had filled every gap and was at the helm. I am sure he wanted to love, and meant to love me, but there was little room for love amidst the fear.
I had dubbed this year the #yearoflove, and what I learned so far is that I had a very juvenile understanding of love: beliefs that were formed as a child in response to painful situations and events.
I faced several major turning points this year, especially in the area of love–not just romantic love, but self-love as well. And at every turn, what I heard life shouting at me was, “Baby, it’s time to grow up. It’s time to let childish thoughts and ways and beliefs go.” E.g., this idea that I was not lovable blocking every opportunity for love to enter my life. And as that relates to my propensity for picking men who are falling apart and trying to be the thread that holds them together, well, that’s not love either. I wasn’t loving ME in any of my relationships. How could I expect others to love me and how could I love others in a healthy way?
If we measure love in actions, my opinion is, the result is leaving people in better condition than we found them, not worse. To me, that’s the real measure of love.
Did you make a meaningful impact on the person’s life, even if it didn’t work out? Did you add value to their life instead of suck them dry? I think that’s a true measure of love. And I’m not saying that we don’t unwittingly hurt those we love and vice versa; it’s impossible to escape any interaction with other human beings without figuratively scraping a knee or two (or three). Relationships are complex because people are complex, but love in the context of how it is executed (love as a verb), is not complex. It’s quite simple.
This year I also learned the love we give to others is proportional to our capacity to love ourselves.
We really do attract people who are a match to our vibrational energy. I picked men who weren’t emotionally available because I haven’t been available to love; I’ve been choosing out of fear, not love.
So what’s possible now that I have let go of false ideals? What’s available to me, in love, now that I know possession is not in love’s ingredients list? What’s in store now that I have no doubt about my worthiness? These are things I think about as the #yearoflove comes to a close. My therapist thinks there’s still plenty of time left in the year to meet someone, if I really want to.