How to know if you truly love someone or if you’re addicted to a feeling.
I recently had a conversation with a follower on my Instagram platform. Hey, if you’re not a client, this is your warning. YOU ARE FAIR GAME. Anyway, this lovely lady was in a relationship with a man considerably younger than herself. She knew the relationship was unhealthy. “He cheats on me” she said. “But I just can’t walk away, I love him so much!”.
I’ve been here before. I’m not going to scold her. I know what it FEELS like to be addicted to another human being who is not good for me. To confuse love for its counterfeit, only to later realize not only did I not love them, I didn’t even LIKE them. So, I pushed back. I asked her what she loves about him. She said “He’s very charming. I love that he cares about who I am and wants to know what I’m doing”. So I pushed a little more: “Does he love who you are and is interested in your life? Or does he love molding you into his version, and knowing what you’re doing so he can plan his shenanigans?” She relented and I asked her again what she loves about him. In different words, her answer was the same. He’s charming, and he pays attention to her.
I then challenged her with her answer and then I explained that if someone had asked me the same question “Why do you love him (meaning my husband of course) my answer would look like this: “I love that he’s honorable, trustworthy, kind, generous, hard working, and loyal. I love that he has integrity. That he is a good friend, father, and husband. I love that he’s forgiving, and patient.” Do you see where this is going?
Friends, I am going to push back with you as well. Oftentimes we think we love someone when we can’t even list 3 things we like about them. Feelings are fleeting. You will not always have the butterflies with your partner or spouse. There will be hard days. And THAT is why it is so important to LIKE the character of your chosen partner. Dr. Gottman calls this positive sentiment override and teaches this is a crucial component in successful relationships, and I tend to agree.
Today I challenge you to take inventory. If you are in a relationship take stock of the qualities you love in your partner. If you are single and or dating, write down the characteristics you most want in a future spouse or partner. It will help to clarify and as you venture on bring appreciation to what you may already have, or work as a tool to assess those who you may eventually consider.