Saturday, December 16, 2017 16:43

Remaining Single: Seven Words For Love

I think the word love is something too easily said. What is the meaning of that word? We use it for everything, don’t we? I love to travel, or I love that movie, or I love my home. That’s all true but is that what love is really about? When we’re talking about romantic relationships, how is the word love handled?

I remember my first serious romantic relationship and how I knew my boyfriend wanted to tell me he loved me but I think he was afraid to say it first in case I didn’t say it back. I knew I loved him too but had never said that to anyone other than family before so it was scary to say it for the first time. It was a very sweet and tender moment and one I have always treasured. The relationship didn’t last a lifetime but that memory does.

Sometimes the word love is said with fury which seems completely paradoxical. I remember in another of my past significant romantic relationships, the first time we ever said “I love you” to each other was in the midst of an argument! Not the best predictor of a bright and happy future, to be sure. To this day I am grateful that romance didn’t last either, because it was full of red flags flying from the very first day. The two plus years we spent together were very hard for me and though I learned much about myself it certainly took its toll. And yet we said we loved each other. Hmmm…….

In thinking about what love really represents, I find there are some other words that I hear in my head when I think of the word love. They include but are not limited to patience, understanding, support, acceptance, regard/respect, admiration, value and cherish. These are the words I think of when thinking of love and how to love and who I love. I know I want those words to be present in any of my relationships – with colleagues , friends or romantic partners.

The words I mention aren’t difficult ones to figure out, and yet I know so many relationships of all kinds where it is clear by observation of interactions that these words are not in the relationship lexicon. I think about the relationships I have had with former friends, all of whom might have done the lip service of saying “I love you” with one breath while harshly criticizing and verbally judging something about me with the next. I have many instances where immediate family members have lied to me, verbally abused me, harshly disapproved of me, relentlessly criticized me, and were hurtful in general. Not quite what I would describe as love, and yet in our society we are ‘supposed to’ use the word ‘love’ when talking about family members. Seems hypocritical, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, I have had some positive love relationships in my life from whom I draw inspiration and strength. My father, now deceased, was the embodiment of the words I use to describe love. From the day I was born until the day he died, I was certain beyond all doubt that he loved me for exactly who I am, always. All I ever had to do was be his daughter and that was enough. We disagreed at times, and we didn’t always see eye to eye at times, but at no time did I ever feel anything else but that unconditional love from him.

I’m grateful that I had this positive loving relationship with at least one member of my immediate family, because as a result I have something to work toward in the rest of my relationships, including the most important one of all – the relationship I have with myself. And I continue to hold onto the belief that it is better to be on my own than to be settling for anything less than the words I use to describe love. In any personal relationship, I choose today to wait for the ones where those words can be said, meant and felt.

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