You aren’t approaching it with a good heart
Love. It’s very easy to chalk up as one of The Big Things we “need” in life; something we need to get situated in order to feel settled; to even feel like someone.
It can be tempting to think of love as a check point on life’s checklist, albeit an important one; a milestone, another step along the path of things we have to do in order to have a successful, happy life.
We want what everyone else has. We want what we’re “supposed” to have. We want what will surely make us happy.
But the problem with this thinking is that it can hinder us from authentic, rich connections. It can render people — partners, but other human beings nonetheless — little more than social commodities; status symbols.
And it becomes hypocritical, us approaching them with a checklist to fulfill while expecting authentic and everlasting and un-superficial love in return. It’s not fair, and it’s not honest.
I am both saddened and exhausted with the number of people who say they’re looking for good love, but approach it like they’re car shopping — 5 year warranty, leather seats, all the bells and whistles. Oh, but I want it to love me “back.” Forever.
It makes me sad for their partner. And it makes me sad for them. Because they truly keep waking up each day not fully understanding why nobody sticks around, and I want to shake them, tearful and screaming, “because you ‘love’ them like they’re a 3-series!”
Love is not a checkbox. People are not a thing. Neither are a requirement or an accomplishment, and while they may have standing as status symbols and social objects, the reality is that holding them in this light ruins the underlying potential for real love. The two mindsets cannot coexist.
Love is work. Love is commitment. In the same sense your job isn’t about putting on a paper suit and carrying an empty briefcase around just to tell people your title, and good love isn’t hollow either. (And in the same way that many people do make their work into little more than empty time sucks, they absolutely do this with love as well. But there is no meaning at the end of it, in either one.)
Love isn’t a static, one and done achievement to attain. The goal isn’t to “settle down,” but reinvest day after day.
If you want meaning, you have to make meaning. And if you want richness and real love, you have to invest accordingly. That doesn’t mean planning date nights and putting on cute outfits and remembering anniversaries. It means actually and deeply caring about the other person and their unique, human person life experience — every day.
It’s natural to treat love like a static thing to obtain. It can be tempting to pretend as if there’s one little thing that, if you could just get it under control, would fix everything and all would be okay.
Writer Kim Quindlen wrote,
“People don’t talk about it. People don’t want to admit that the world treats love like a formula, like a simple catalyst that will lead to your perfect wedding and marriage and life. It ruins the mirage… Something we have to grasp our hands onto before it’s too late — before we reach the age where it’s considered too late to get married or ‘start’ a life or to raise a family.”
But it’s not that simple. The good ass shit is not that simple, anyway. And isn’t that what you really want?
This is why love feels so hard to “get,” and why real love is even harder. Good partners aren’t picked up like a haphazard game of human musical chairs. Not the good ones anyway, not the ones with real love.
I can’t guarantee that you’ll have good love. It’s a privilege, not a right, and it isn’t promised to anyone, you or me alike.
But I can guarantee that you will never have love — real love, dat good AF authentic love— if you think of it like a checkbox or status symbol in your life.
We get what we put out in the world, and that includes approaching other people with the same whole-hearted, honest to goodness grace and respect and investment that we most yearn for back.