Falling in love is one of the most confusing, promising, fleeting, addicting and subjective emotions. It is extremely difficult to answer, “what is love” or “how do you know you are in love.” Unrealistic expectations and our own physiology make it nearly impossible to differentiate between lust, love, or just plain fantasy.
Mainstream media and recent articles, such as Elite Daily’s, 10 Definitive Ways To Tell You’re In Love With The Right Someone, only exacerbate the confusion by promoting a definitive, fairytale picture of love. Sadly, as a result people miss out on potential loving relationships. To clear up some confusion, here are 10 signs we’re led to believe indicate love that really just create false expectations.
1. Always looking forward to seeing the person you love
Love is just one emotion. Each day love has to compete against all your other emotions that can be more important at their own time. For example if you’re angry, or stressed, realistically you may need to work out those emotions first, before you are able to feel excited about seeing your lover.
2. Sacrificing your needs or passions
Love is promoted as being more important than your own needs and passions. Loving someone means you support, not become, your partner. You create the risk of becoming resentful towards your relationship the moment you believe love means sacrificing your own needs. Your lover should be a priority, but you still need to feel fulfilled and well-rounded.
3. There are no boundaries or privacy
Everyone is used to having a certain amount of privacy and personal space. Setting boundaries for personal space actually displays greater trust in your partner. It sustains independence and desire, requires honesty, and cultivates a better understanding of each partner and their needs.
4. Every emotion is shared
Love is promoted as being an open book. Misinterpretations and miscommunication are a major area of conflict for relationships. Communication should always be done carefully and thoughtfully, especially with someone you love.
5. Your lover will also be your best friend.
Love is promoted as two parts, a lover and a best friend. A lover cannot only or always be a best friend. Close friendships outside of the relationship offer a different fulfillment and outlet that your relationship should not offer.
6. Loving every aspect of your partner.
Loving someone does not mean that everything about him or her is pefect. Some things will always get on your nerves. Conflict is either a deal-breaker or an annoyance, and sustaining a relationship is learning to understand, compromise and accept the annoyances.
7. Love means you never fight
Love is promoted as a positive, conflict-free relationship. In most relationships conflict is inevitable. It reevaluates your relationship as changes occur. Conflict should be handled slowly and with maturity, and never be afraid to explore the help of a professional if you feel your relationship is more important than your conflicts.
8. You’ll never think about anyone else sexually or emotionally
Love does not create or necessitate mental and physical monogamy. Humans have an instinctual need to procreate, with or without your love. Stop blaming your lover or yourself for being attracted to others. Focus instead on fulfilling and being the outlet for each of your own sexual desires within the boundaries you set together.
9. Resisting short-term temptation
Love is promoted as being a strong enough reason to resist short-term temptation. Any love can be put at risk if there is strong enough temptation. A short-term lapse in judgment or temptation doesn’t change the fact that you do love your partner. Discuss openly and honestly about potential or previous situations, and realize that a mistake is only a bad decision, not a lack of love.
10. Love withstands the test of time
Love is promoted as never-ending. Emotions are volatile and they change with new experiences. You need to love the person today, not be in love with who the person was yesterday. Sustaining love means that big changes can be weathered as a couple instead of as an individual.
“… So we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide: Give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one. Give me comfort, give me edge. Give me novelty, give me familiarity. Give me predictability, give me surprise. And we think it's a given, and toys and lingerie are going to save us with that…” (Ester Perel, The Secret to Desire in a Long Term Relationship)
One of the first steps to a successful loving relationship is having the right expectations. Forget the media-driven picture that love is a fairy tale. In reality, it is a variety of genres ranging from love, romance, drama, action, sex and comedy. Understanding, recognizing, and sustaining love is not as straight forward as we have been led to believe. It can be difficult and even confusing, but it is definitely worth it.
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*Edited by Rachel Ritter