I agree completely.
People thinking that “love” will solve all of their difficulties, especially their emotional and psychological difficulties, is a huge problem. Love, romantic or otherwise, will not fix all of our problem. This is something that parents have been telling their children, friends have been telling their friends, professionals have been telling their patients and strangers have been telling other strangers for an incredibly long time now.
So at this point we know that the whole “love will fix me” idea is false and we’ve known this for a long time.
And yet we still fall for it. Many people with emotional and psychological issues still believe that “falling in love” is the answer. Many men with psychological and emotional issues honestly think that if they just learn the “secret” to “picking up women” that will make them better. Similarly, many women with psychological and emotional issues honestly think that if they can just learn how to attract the “right kind of guy” that this will make them better.
IMO, knowing that this kind of thinking is wrong doesn’t get us anywhere unless we also ask WHY people keep believing this falseness even though they have every reason to KNOW that it is false.
WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP BELIEVING THE LOVE WILL MAKE THEM BETTER?
I’m not sure if I know the full answer to this question, but I think I’ve picked-up on a part of the reason.
About a month ago I had a long conversation with a guy on medium. He had posted something along the lines of “Women only fall for charming jerks who abuse them, while ignoring good guys like me.” The typical crap that has been the mainstay of men who feel that they have been “wronged” by women for the simple reason that the women they are attracted to aren’t attracted to them.
So, feeling superior, I wrote something snarky and mean about how pathetic and wrong he was. But before I hit publish, I looked over what I wrote and decided to cut out most of the mean stuff. Then I rewrote the entire thing (There was a WHOLE LOT of mean stuff ;p) so as not to put him down but still make it clear that he was fundamentally wrong.
His response was polite and soon we were having a real conversation.
He described how he was suffering from emotional and psychological problems for which he was getting treatment. Sadly, his continued anxiety issues made it very hard for him to connect with other people, especially women. He understood that his anxiety issues made him come off as weird and panicky, and he also understood that this was why women avoided him and why he didn’t get any second dates. So he wanted to learn the “secrets of the pick-up artists” in order to attract women.
This next thing was the part that really got to me.
He told me that the reason why he wanted to become a “pick-up artist” was because he was incredibly lonely due to his psychological issues and he hoped that being able to attract a woman would lessen the loneliness.
He didn’t frame it as “Love will make me better”, he framed it as “Love will make it hurt less because it will make me less lonely”.
That pretty much broke my heart. Because even though I know that no one has a right “not to be lonely”, I’m pretty sure that I have NEVER been as lonely as this guy was. Even though I know that no one has a right “to have the people they are attracted to also be attracted to them” there have been enough times in my life when a person I was attracted to was also attracted to me, for me to feel desirable and good about myself. I would never reach the false conclusions that he did, but I also had many things that he did not.
One of the core differences between him and me is that he is very lonely and I am not.
I’ve known a few people who have gone through different emotional and psychological issues. And despite the fact that they were different people going through different issues, at some point they all said the same thing:
“I was so very lonely”.
Bipoler, depressed, BPD, it didn’t matter. Different issues, different symptoms, different treatments and yet one across-the-board common pain:
IMO the reason why we keep thinking that love will “make us better” is because despite the different issues we are going through, the “pain” caused by these different things always involves loneliness.
Getting another person to love you makes the loneliness go away, probably not for long and definitely not forever, but just long enough for the pain to stop a little bit.
So I understand why people keep thinking and hoping that love will “fix them”.
Because a person with emotional problems is a person in pain and a whole lot of that pain is loneliness.
The things you talk about, recognizing that love won’t fix us and learning to love ourselves more, are both entirely correct. But recognizing that a whole lot of the people who aren’t able to do these things are in pain casts an entirely different light on their “effort” to get beyond these mistakes.
Very often, the people who aren’t able to do these healthy things aren’t “just not trying hard enough”. Very often the people who are unable to give up on the idea of love as a “quick fix” can’t do so because they are already incredibly lonely and just want the loneliness to end, even for a second.
IMO we can’t expect people not to keep thinking that love will fix them unless we can give them something else to believe in as capable of ending their loneliness.
Tearing down a lie doesn’t create a truth. All it does is create a big space where people used to have something to believe it. And in that space, sit all the problems and pains that that lie was made for. The lie was fake, but the problems/pain is real and they are not going anywhere.
If we are willing to tell people that love will not cure their loneliness we must also be willing to put in the compassion, kindness and work to come up with something that will help end their loneliness.