This is the hardest thing to understand, but a healthy relationship should not be based on LOVE alone. That’s when we tend to get ourselves into trouble. We think love will save the day, and love conquers all. IT DOES NOT. You have to like a person, you have to trust a person, feel stable with them, feel unintimidated. They have to be nice, kind, respectful, loving, they have to SHARE YOUR SAME VALUES…and you have to be all those things for that person in return.
When we take a look at the Healthy Relationship pie, love is only one slice, not the whole darn pie. So, in dating, push the idea of love aside, and see if you’ve got all the other things to build on. In my case, LOVE was not what attracted or sustained D and I in the beginning. And why should it have been? Love is the byproduct of mutual respect, friendship, trust and kindness. It is not something you get or feel right away.
So then what’s that feeling, if not love?
While I was acting out as a love addict I mistook intense emotions for love. The two are HUGELY different. Love is the result of many good things shared between two people. Intense emotion for another person, however, is immediate, it’s somewhat chaotic and mostly irrational. In the early stages of dating it’s so important to know the difference between the two. I also want to clarify that this is not a “dating pie”; it’s a healthy relationship pie. What’s the difference? Love would not be on a dating pie, nor would trust or friendship. Those things are built over time. They are things that the two people involved work towards to create. If these things are not created within the relationship over a significant amount of time, then you might have a relationship, alright, but it’s not a healthy one.
A dating pie, might have respect, shared values, kindness, common interests, chemistry (intense emotions); it may even have friendship if you were friends prior. But it does not have love or trust. Again, those things are built over time. See the difference?
Remember that love is earned ONLY when all the other slices of the pie are present. So here’s something to consider when you look at your current or past relationship: how much importance did I assign to “love”? How much importance did I assign to friendship, shared values, or trust? How did my relationship stack up to this pie chart. Was love the only thing that was on my pie chart? Or were there other things that held the relationship together (sex? flirting? convenience? need?) Did I have a dating pie or did I have a healthy relationship pie? Make your own pie chart from a past relationship, and make a future pie chart of what you would prefer your relationship to be built on.
For more on this topic, see Susan Peabody’s explanation of “romantic love.”