Love Shouldn’t Hurt
Passion. Heat. Desire. These are some of the elements that fuel romantic notion. We crave a burning passionate love that leaves us feeling desired above all others. We search for the fire to our gasoline, speaking in analogy. We are inundated through TV and social media with volatile relationships that have been white washed to appear romantic. The couple in question usually fit into the “star-crossed lovers” category and fall in and out of love until they cannot fight their inevitable future together any longer. There are often times shouting matches or fights that are so intense it seems as though the couple will never recover, but when they do, they come back ten times stronger. We call that passion. We use what we see around us to make excuses for our own unhealthy relationships. We think that our partner is only acting this way because they love us so deeply they are willing to fight for us by fighting with us.
It often happens gradually. The person you love changes a little. They suddenly seem less like the person you fell in love with and more like someone you do no not quite know. People change, they grow or they regress. Sometimes it is simply the person you are with has started to show their true colors. Pretending you are someone you are not becomes very difficult as time marches on. However, love is blinding. It tends to look past flaws and see what it wants to see. We cover a multitude of sins by simply saying, “But I love them.” We dismiss the little things, the quips about how we’re dressed, the weight we’ve put on or the friends we have. Eventually however, these remarks become more frequent. We say we have heard them before and dismiss it. We argue about them a little, but what is the point really? Soon these small issues turn into major points of contention and begin leading to full blown arguments. The arguments are intense, and so is the making up. Often times, before we know it, fights are physical and we are making excuses. We are protecting our beloved and protecting ourselves from outside scrutiny. “How could anyone else understand our relationship?” We believe our love for each other is greater than our fighting. We believe we can fix everything, after all we have made it through worse right? Maybe he or she did hit me this time, but they did not really want to. It was an accident; they said they were sorry. We make excuses until we believe them. We push others who are concerned out. At this point it is easy to feel lost and alone.
I speak from experience. In college I fell in love with a man who fit perfectly into my plan. He was on the right career path, he was amusing and he was attractive to me. We flirted, we dated, we fell into a long term relationship. His friends became my friends and my friends, well, they did not like him much. I was young though, and thought they just did not understand him like I did. Little did I know that they noticed his off color comments about my body or my clothing choices whereas I was not hearing them. The first year he and I dated was not so bad. We got along fine and everything was new and exciting. Our passion for each other was alive. He never said “I love you” though. I trudged on thinking he just wanted to be certain I was, “the one.” Year two was not so great. We quibbled. He called names. We fought. Why we continued dating I will never know. Neither of us was very happy, but we were comfortable with each other and for one reason or another still thought we should end up together. Year three was brutal. We fought often. We were violent. He would say things so hurtful I would burst into tears. Rather than my tears appearing as a white flag however, he would then make fun of me for crying. I would become enraged and throw whatever was nearby in his direction. He would become enraged and physically hurt me. I lied about bruises. I lied about our fights. In the end we always made up. The next day would be like it never happened. We would go on a date or hang out with friends and we would be happy and enamored with each other again. All sins forgiven. But there was always a next time. We could not hold on to the simple happiness. Our issues ran too deep and I think we both secretly nursed grudges. I eventually realized he had become my only friend. Others had abandoned me because of him. I had pushed people who inquired too much out. I eventually began to fear for my own life. Not necessarily because of him, but because I was losing my will to live. I felt lonely and worthless. His insults became my truths and more and more I felt like giving up and ending my life was the only way to find true peace. I felt I could not leave him because no on else would want me. I was crazy, I was talentless, I was fat, I was worthless. None of these things are true, but at the time they seemed to be. Eventually he and I had a fight that drug on and on and he ended things. I was broken. However, we were each others best friends so we did not stop seeing each other. We continued on in a dysfunctional open relationship that was just as volatile and unhappy. In this time I began seeing a therapist. I had seriously considered suicide too many times and even tried once before I realized I needed professional help. She slowly helped me to grow stronger, and I eventually ended things completely. It was hard. There were remnants of love for him. However, I knew he and I would never achieve the healthy relationship we deserved.
Love shouldn’t hurt. We often times delude ourselves into believing our fighting is passion. We think things will eventually work themselves out. Good, healthy relationships are not always easy; they sometimes take work and a willingness to be open and talk through difficult subjects. They should no hurt though. Physical violence is never OK. Verbal and emotional abuse are never OK. Manipulative behavior is never OK. These are absolutely not elements of good, healthy and mature relationships. These things are not love. True love will not hurt you. Lust, a lack of self-esteem and the need for absolute control will. These things masquerade as passion, heat and desire. They trick us into thinking pain and suffering are part of our love story, when in fact they are part of our undoing. Love is not turning a blind eye to abuse. Love is not accepting abuse as part of our life. Love is not dismissing inappropriate behavior. True love will help you grow. True love embraces maturity. True love will put your needs first. True love does not hurt.