“It’s wonderful to be loved, but profound to be understood.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres
I thought I wanted to be loved—first and foremost.
To be loved is what so many of us desire. And while it’s still something I long for, it’s no longer my top priority.
In the past, I assumed that whoever loved me also understood me. I assumed that whoever looked deep into my eyes was also looking straight into my own soul.
But I’ve come to realize that being loved is entirely different than being understood. We might feel so much for someone, yet not “get” them. They can mean the world to us, but it might be challenging to relate to their core beliefs and ideas.
Love takes work, but true understanding takes more work. Understanding another person is an intellectual and emotional choice that requires giving a part of ourselves to another, and putting ourselves in their shoes.
We tend to confuse love with understanding, because usually, love kicks in first. When the euphoria declines and our extreme emotions calm down, we begin to learn about our lover in a more conscious way. This is when the journey of understanding our partner begins.
And so, I thought, maybe I want it to happen the other way around. Before being loved, I just want to be understood.
I’ve been loved countless times before, but rarely have I been understood—which has made me realize that love isn’t enough. I want my mind to be explored before my body. I want my ideas to be held before my hands.
Before turning myself into a home for someone, I want that someone to grab the lens through which I see the world, and look through it. And though our lenses might differ, it’s valuable to respect them the way they are.
I want my lover to know that I’m not a static being. I’m as changeable as the trees during the four seasons. I’m as flowing as a river in which you can’t step twice. I want to be understood with all of these changes, and all my revelations about myself and the world.
I want my concerns, doubts, and fears to be understood. I want my ideas about life, death, people, and our existence to be grasped no matter how absurd or shallow they may seem.
I want someone to put aside his own agenda and take the time to listen to me without imposing his own ideas. I want someone to listen to me without trying to change me.
I want to be loved the way I am.
I’m not looking for a solution or an answer to my questions, and I’m definitely not looking for approval or validation. I want to be understood first, because genuinely understanding someone—without trying to change them—is the beginning of true love.
The more someone works to understand me, the more I believe they’re loving me. Because at the end of the day, love is putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes and walking their path with them. Authentic partnership is knowing that we see through different lenses, and accepting those differences. And an intimate relationship is one where we don’t judge how the other sees the world.
Love starts with understanding. And although it’s impossible to fully comprehend another being, the willingness to begin that arduous journey is worth it.
Genuine love is not about only loving the parts we like in another person. It’s about loving them whole, whether we agree or disagree. It’s about putting aside our ego when it wants to kick in and prove itself right.
Because the ego gets in the way of understanding—and I just want to be understood, and loved, without its presence.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Nicole Cameron