“All we need is love”, a famous song performed by the Beatles. We see it in movies and on social media that all you need is love to have a good long-lasting relationship. We romanticize and idealize love in such a way that it sometimes clouds our judgment, and we ignore the fact that sometimes love is not enough. We develop unrealistic expectations of what love is, and through these unrealistic expectations, we sabotage the very relationship we thought was everything to us.
How many of us stayed in an unhealthy relationship just because we loved the other person so much? We accepted their behaviour, rationalized that “they love us”, or thought that “our love” will fix the relationship issues. We felt “the spark”; we believed that this will last forever and that they are the perfect one. Even when the red flags were there, we ignored them. We wanted to stay in the bliss of the initial romance and “accepted” that this is as good as it can get and that our love will conquer all.
Love is a beautiful experience and is one of the most vital driving forces in life. We all strive to find that partner who will enrich our lives and whom we will commit to. We look for the one we are compatible with, have passion, respect, and trust in the relationship. These are the basic fundamentals of a healthy relationship.
Some breakups happen, even to those couples who are happy – those are usually the devastating ones. Not even their love or happiness was enough for the relationship to survive.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky
What do you look for when considering a partner or when do you contemplate leaving the relationship? Here are some indicators to take into account:
- Are you compatible
Two people can fall in love, but they might not be compatible in the long run. You need to share some of the same opinions or share common interests to be happy in each other’s company. You might fall in love with someone who has different worldviews, religious beliefs, or have different values. You might have ambition and future goals, but your partner does not have the same. These are critical factors to consider when thinking long-term.
- Do you want different things in life?
Perhaps you fell in love with someone who wants to become a parent, and you might not want children? Perhaps you want to immigrate, but your partner feels differently? Do you both have the same idea of where and how you want to settle down? Would you like to get married one day?
- Love can not solve relationship issues.
What happens when your families don’t get along? What if commuting between your partner’s house and yours is getting too much? What if your work-life is interfering with your personal life? What if you are constantly fighting and your partner feels insecure in the relationship? How will “love” solve these relationship problems in the long run? In the initial stages of dating, these “problems” might seem insignificant, but these problems will cause significant complications in the relationship as time goes by.
- Are you making sacrifices in the name of love?
When you are in a healthy relationship, you are able to consider your partner’s needs and compromise with them. In a healthy relationship, you love yourself, respect your values and needs and are be able to come to an understanding with your partner. In an unhealthy relationship, you start to sacrifice your own needs, time, self-respect, dignity, ambitions, or life’s purpose to put your partner’s needs first. You might find yourself in a situation where you tolerate your partner’s disrespectful or abusive behaviour in “the name of love”. You must ensure that your needs are also met in the relationship and that you don’t lose yourself.
- Is your life better with them in it?
Is your partner willing to spend time with you to get to know you better, i.e. what your fears and aspirations are? Do they make time for you? Do you feel emotionally safe in the relationship? Does your partner build you up or break you down? Does your partner support you in your objectives, or do they impact you negatively? Do they contribute to your happiness, or do you live in constant angst and fear? These are critical questions that you need to answer when considering staying in a relationship.
- Love requires communication
Effective communication is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. You need to feel free to express your feelings and desires honestly without expecting judgement or rejection. The lack of communication will hinder the growth of the relationship. When couples get into constant arguments due to lack of communication, it may create distance between them. When one partner doesn’t create a safe space to express emotions, the other may shut down and suppress their feelings. When couples feel as though they cannot talk to their significant other, it causes them to feel alone. This feeling tends to make the person distance themselves and seek understanding elsewhere.
- Is there a strong friendship?
Are you best friends? Can you talk to them about anything without feeling judged? Do you enjoy spending time with them? Are you able to speak to them as you would with a friend? Can you instill the same boundaries that you would in a friendship? You are able to say “no” to a friend when you don’t want to do something but are you not able to do the same with your partner? Do you have fun with your partner as you do with your best friend?
- Your partner is just not happy.
Sometimes in a relationship, one partner might be happy and content, but the other is not fulfilled. Loving someone and being happy in a relationship aren’t necessarily the same. You might not be satisfied with how things are and could desire something different for yourself. These feelings are not unusual, and it doesn’t mean you love your partner less. People change, and their desires can change, so sometimes love is not enough to overcome unhappiness. If there is still hope in rekindling the relationship, you may have a conversation with your partner on how to mend things. Seeing a counsellor can also assist with bringing you both back together.
- Irreconcilable differences
There might be situations where two people will have irreconcilable differences in the relationship. Regardless of how much you love that person, your relationship might be damaged by something they said or did. Trust could be one of those situations. When trust is lost (no matter the incident), it can be challenging to recover. Whether or not it will be the end of the relationship will depend on the couple. Some couples can work through the problems and strengthen their relationship so long as both are willing and able to put in the work. Others will not be able to move forward due to the pain it has caused.
We all crave the emotional connection of love. We are all longing for a fulfilling, happy relationship with someone compatible. Sometimes we love someone so much that we will compromise ourselves and our values to stay with them. Romantic love – the initial love at the beginning of a relationship will dissipate with time. If your relationship can’t switch over successfully to companion love, your relationship might not make it. Companion love is feelings of affection, intimacy, and commitment.
Keeping in mind all of the factors mentioned above, you need to be honest with yourself if the relationship is worth fighting for or are you just clinging to it because you love the person.
Should you have relationship problems and want to work through them, speak to a counsellor that can assist you in navigating through your relationship issues, and give you the necessary tools to strengthen the relationship. You may also consider seeing a counsellor should you decide to leave the relationship. They can assist you in working through the devastating emotions you will experience during the breakup.
Love is beautiful. Love is exhilarating. Love is necessary but sometimes love is not enough.
Debbie Hartmann – Life, Relationship and Teen Coach @ My Kinda Life Coaching.