Sandra Gibbons

Sandra Gibbons

lives in beautiful Northwest Arkansas. She writes about parenthood, lessons learned, and creating moments of happiness.

Love

It's now one month until Valentine's Day.

A couple days ago, I had tweeted and asked what it really meant to love someone. Having undergone a quarter-life crisis and moving back in with my dad, my thoughts about love had changed (and simplified), so I was curious what other people were thinking of the whole concept. Some of the feedback I had received was:

unconditional commitment and affection
a mutual admiration for each other’s strengths and flaws, acknowledging we are human through perseverance
no specific definition – love is something innate for all of us

Past love

I used to believe romantic love was this convoluted mass of feelings and actions and reactions towards someone. The “crazier” and more melodramatic, the truer it must be. While this could still be true to an extent, I think those more extreme presentations have more to do with being desperately enamored by that special someone. It probably isn’t very healthy to obsess over someone and dig your claws into them for fear of them drifting away. But to be compelled to think about that person and his/her happiness and well-being is certainly healthy and self-respectful behavior.

I used to say, “I love you” 50 million times a day to someone and expect them to reciprocate. I would expect to spend every second of every last day with my partner, and I remember thinking that was normal. I was that girl who put my friendships and relationships with family members on the back burner in order to focus on my romantic relationship, and I would get jealous, angry, suspicious, and passive-aggressive when my boyfriend chose to spend time with his family or friends. I was unhappy with myself, and really had no sense of who I was, and so I filled that void with whatever relationship I was in. I was depressed and felt worthless, and gauged my personal fulfillment on the status of my relationships. Not healthy. At all.

Love defined

A relationship isn’t truly a relationship unless both parties have their own set of goals and passions, which they’re able to share with each other, in addition to relationship goals and passions that coincide with the individual ones. Well, all that plus the necessary attraction and affection for one another anyway, which I really believe having separate personal goals/passions coupled with the relationship ones accounts for a large portion of that attraction. Beauty of the mind outlasts beauty of the body, or so they say.

So how would I describe romantic love? I think real, long-lasting love is simply loving somebody more than yourself. And that has to apply both ways for the couple—a balance. Otherwise, the relationship will not last. I believe having a reciprocated greater love for your mate, your own personal hobbies and goals, and actual relationship hobbies and goals really is the key. If any of these are missing or have an imbalance, problems in the forms of selfishness, frequent disagreements, boredom and complacency, suffocation, and loneliness or other general unhappiness can manifest itself.

Recognizing love

The kicker is just finding someone whose personality, interests, and outlook agrees with your own. It’s a matter of putting an end to romanticized ideas of how you see yourself in a relationship, and just recognizing who you really are, and finding someone honest enough to let you know who they really are, too. An old friend of mine from Westminster gave me some advice about people—his terminology was derived from a Muse song, but Muse has some pretty deep lyrics—very thought-provoking. He said there were two kinds of people in life—black holes and revelations. No in-between. The in-between is where people get hung up in false hope and effort, creating excuses for someone’s displeasing behavior. Black holes consume all of your energy and happiness. They just keep taking and need more and more regardless of what it does to you. Revelations bring out your best. They empower you, giving you lots of support and encouragement. No in-betweens. He said everyone you meet in life will fall into one of those two categories, and to surround yourself with as many revelations as possible in life.

Here it is, several years after receiving that advice, and all of my thoughts and beliefs are finally coming together in such a way that they actually make sense. Thank you. So if any of you are out there feeling lost and defeated, please think hard on these words. Really reflect on yourself and your relationships and see if any of these things described are missing or perhaps deficient or excessive in your lives. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

True love is eternal, infinite, and always like itself.
It is equal and pure, without violent demonstrations;
It is seen with white hairs and is always young in the heart.
— Honore de Balzac

Dogs

Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe