I once knew a woman who was obsessed with the idea that love and only love could save her.
Love, for her, was enough.
It was the end goal, first prize, the ultimate blessing from the universe.
I can hear John Lennon singing in the back of my head, “All you need is love…”
The woman I knew went through a string of relationships that usually ended in heartbreak, until one night. She had dinner with a man who quite literally stole her breath away. It had been the first date of single woman dreams.
On the other side of town, as I sat like a couch potato on a Saturday night watching reruns of “Friends,” I received a voice note from her, sent from the bathroom of the restaurant.
Her words and intentions were clear, “Mandy, I am going to marry this man.”
Talk about a whirlwind.
It went from a few short weeks of casual dating to moving in together, to step parenting and, finally, within six months, a wedding.
She had secured herself the fairytale ending.
All she needed was love.
Sadly, in our culture, we idealize love and create impossible expectations rooted in illusion.
The woman I knew believed that love is a cure-all for life’s pains and struggles.
Hell, even Hollywood likes to spend time brainwashing us with the fantasy of happily-ever-after, but the reality is vastly different.
When we find ourselves in the mindset of, “love is enough,” we start to ignore fundamental values of respect, honesty, humility, and commitment, amongst others. Our partners can essentially do anything, and in the name of almighty love, all will be forgiven and overlooked.
A few years later, that woman became a shell of her former self. It was beyond hard to witness it. She got divorced—after having spent years with a man who made her desperately unhappy, sticking it out with the cry of, “But, I love him!” until she no longer knew who the f*ck she was.
Love is not enough.
Love is exquisitely beautiful and necessary. I am not love-bashing—but it is not enough to sustain healthy relationships of any kind. We need a myriad of other components to make love a success.
Here are a few truths about love:
1. Love is not the same as compatibility
Love is based on emotion, whereas compatibility is based in logic. Just because we have the capacity to fall madly in love with someone does not equal them being a good partner for us in the short-term or long-term.
We can very well fall in love with someone who treats us poorly, makes us question our own morals and values, or can bring us down with them. We can also fall in love with someone who has a completely different set of life goals to us, and that is a recipe for a disastrous union. It’s doomed even before it has begun.
This is how we invite toxicity into our lives. We ignore what we need and what we want, and we justify it in the name of love.
2. Love will not solve your problems.
If you suffer from low self-worth, if you struggle to deal with your problems on your own, if you struggle with living your life to your full potential, love is not going to save you from that.
Another person is not a magic elixir that will make you conquer mountains and give you wings; they will, most likely, become a scratching post for all that you feel you are lacking.
We can most certainly grow within love that is based on good values, but I see, too often, a need to escape into another person and misery inevitably ensues.
Now, self-love will save you because it’s based on the internal; it’s cultivated from within and doesn’t depend on anything but you. Nothing external is going to solve your problems; it starts and ends from within you. If your insides are a little f*cked up, your energy and efforts are best used there.
3. Love isn’t always worth the sacrifice.
Real, honest, and healthy love does—from time to time—require sacrifice and compromise. What a fine line we walk when we merge two lives into one. But when it comes to sacrificing our self-respect, our dignity, our ambitions, and dreams, just to be in love, that same love will ultimately lead to our utter destruction.
Love is an aid in our individuality, not a hindrance. If we find ourselves in relationships that require us to sacrifice ourselves, we are letting the concept of love being enough consume us at the expense of everything else we may hold dear and true to our hearts.
We often forget that the people we choose to spend our lives with will play a pivotal role in all aspects of our lives, from our mental, emotional, and physical health to finances and everything in between.
Please, use both your heart and your head when deciding.