We live in a world where there are so many different definitions of love. We are all searching for something special, for something meaningful and pointed and real, but sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between what is good love, and what is toxic, or what is not actually serving you.
\There are so many human beings who exit connections, and it is only in looking back on what they were calling love, that they come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t love at all. Sometimes, we can become so comfortable in a certain way of feeling, that we forget that love should be soft, that it doesn’t always have to be pain, or confusion.
Sometimes, our patterns, or our pasts, or the way that we experienced love as a child can push us into the kind of connections that aren’t actually secure or safe, because they are all we have ever known.
Below are four things we often mistake for love — because love is not uncertainty, love is not attachment, love is not fear, or entitlement or perfection. This is your reminder of that.
1. Love is not uncertainty.
At the end of the day — love should not be the main source of confusion in your life. Love is honest, and vulnerable. Love speaks, it has a voice, it communicates, it ensures you know where it stands. Love is not games, love is not manipulation. Love is not wondering if someone cares about you. Love is not overthinking someone’s intentions, because you will know what they are.
If someone in your life consistently leaves you feeling confused, or unworthy, or like you are simply just an option; if you are constantly overthinking a connection, if you are waiting around for it to meet the potential you see within it, if your heart is constantly left feeling disoriented, or unappreciated, or like it is not being held — that is not love.
I promise — there is more to love than having to question if someone cares about you. The people who will love you beautifully in this life, are the ones who will stand directly in front of you and they will ensure that you know that they value you, that they are grateful for you. They won’t just do this when it is convenient, or when it is easy; they won’t just do this in words, or in actions that hold no weight. They will show up. The people who will love you in the most profound ways in this life will be transparent, they will not conceal their feelings, they will not try to hide your connection away or treat it like something that isn’t special — and you deserve that kind of clarity. You deserve to know where you stand with another human being. You deserve honesty, and communication. You deserve to be chosen.
2. Love is not fear.
Love does not make you feel like you have to change yourself in order to be worthy of it. Love does not make you feel like you are too much. However, I know that overthinking can make you feel like you are hard to love. I know that anxiety can make you feel like you are hard to love. But you are not hard to love. The right human beings will work to understand the internal battles you fight, and will never make you feel like you have to apologize for the way you are. The right human beings will never make you feel like you have to apologize for the way your heart beats against your chest. They will never make you feel like you have to silence parts of yourself, or water yourself down, in order to keep them in your life.
Love does not exist in connections where you are constantly worried that the person you care for is going to leave if you show them your true self — the version of you that is real, not perfect or edited or agreeable. Love does not exist within that kind of control. It is not having to do everything perfectly in order to be safe within it, it is not being afraid of expressing yourself so you close yourself off in order to keep it around. Love does not make you feel replaceable, like you are not worthy of holding it, like you are the reason why someone might walk away or find better. Love is not that kind of fear, that kind of heaviness.
Love is safety. It is knowing that you have something special with another human being, it is an understanding that exists between two souls that makes you feel at ease within its energy. You will never feel like you are too much. You will never have your emotion, or your interests, or your hope, held against you. You will never have to apologize for the way you exist, you will never be asked to quiet the parts of yourself that deserve to take up space here. You will never feel like if you were just prettier, or funnier, or cooler you would have something that was more secure. The right kind of love exists within security. It chooses you, as you are. It never makes you feel like you are disposable. It never manipulates you into thinking that you have to do more, give more, be more, in order to keep it stable. The most beautiful kind of love simply just is stable; it is secure. Love is peace.
3. Love is not a melting pot.
When you enter into a relationship, you are an individual human being loving another individual human being. You have both come into this connection with your own pasts, with your own dreams and hopes, with your own personalities, and goals. You are both working towards better versions of yourself, you are both working towards making your life something you are proud of.
Often in relationships, this coming together can become almost too enmeshed. Society glamorizes intense love connections where two human beings quickly become obsessively attached — their worlds crash into one and they are interconnected and almost addicted to each other. But that is not love — that is attachment, that is codependency.
Love, real love, honors individuality. It allows for you to be your own person, for you to have your own life outside of your relationship that nurtures you and nourishes you and builds within you your own foundation of happiness. Your relationship is not the only source of beauty in your life, you are working to create the kind of life that is beautiful in every aspect. You do not lose yourself in your connection, you do not become so deeply enmeshed that you forget who you wanted to be, or your friendships, or your goals. Love honors the freedom that exists in being true to yourself, within it, and outside of it.
The most beautiful kinds of connections are not melting pots, but rather, they are unions. They are the coming together of two individual human beings who are growing, and learning, and making their lives their own. Love honors that, it inspires you to be your own person, to make your dreams come true. Love supports, it does not stifle. And when you feel that kind of freedom in a relationship, it helps for you to grow into a version of yourself that you are proud of. That only ever strengthens love.
Love is not codependency. You should not have to feel like you have lost yourself in order to keep it in your life, you should not feel like you have to sacrifice all of the things that make you an individual in order to make it work. If you are so deeply rooted in another human being, if they are your foundation, if they are the only thing you pour into, that is attachment. You cannot deeply love something you are deeply attached to, because you will always be afraid of losing it — because losing it means you lose your sense of self, and your worth. Losing it means that you lose your steady ground. Losing it means that you lose your purpose. And that is not safe, that is not healthy.
Real love is foundational and beautiful, because you have the freedom and the capacity to build your own foundation, to strengthen your heart and your sense of self to the point of being able to love someone without fearing the loss of that love. The loss of love does not scare you, because you know that you will be okay on your own, you will heal and survive, you will be able to look to the other strong aspects of your life and have them nurture you and fill your life with beauty.
Love compliments your life. It compliments your growth. It compliments your individuality. And that kind of beauty only ever makes for the strongest connections because you are never gripping at love. You let it flow through you. You appreciate it for what it is. You appreciate every moment you have, fully and with presence, because you are not afraid of losing it, you are not afraid of losing yourself. You know that you will be okay without it, which only ever helps for you to deeply appreciate the fact that it stays, that it endures, that it supports, that it exists as another aspect of your life that drives your happiness.
4. Love is not entitlement.
Falling in love is easy, but staying in love requires work. Just because someone sees within you something that they want to protect, and love in this world, just because someone chooses you — does not mean that you can stop feeding into love and nurturing it and growing it. Just because you are committed to someone, just because someone wants to stay, does not mean that you are entitled to their love. You have to earn that love every single day. You have to choose that love every single day. You have to show up for that love, every single day. You cannot get complacent with love, you cannot take it for granted because you assume it will never leave. You have to tend to love. You have to feed it. You have to honor it. You have to ensure that you are always treating it like the rare and beautiful thing it is.
Being comfortable in someone’s energy is a deeply beautiful thing. However, there is a difference between feeling secure within a relationship, and getting so comfortable that you stop fostering a connection. Love deserves to be protected and preserved, like fine art. You cannot neglect it. You cannot stop showing up for it. Love is doing the work, it is communicating and being vulnerable, it is being there for the human being you care for, it is celebrating your connection, not just with words but with action. Love is knowing that you found someone, in a world of billions, that gets you, and ignites something deep within your heart; love is working to defend that, to choose that every single day.
Please, if you love something, just take the time to appreciate it. Please, just take the time to show up for it, to honor it, to pour into it. Not just one month in, but five years in, ten years in. You have to continue to grow and build, you have to continue to talk, to learn about the person you care for, you have to continue to make an effort. Because love is never yours forever. Love is never guaranteed. So how will you keep it? How will you show up for it, each and every day?