When “I love you” is not enough

As children we learn the phrase I love you early by hearing it used consistently by society, family, and storybooks. Often we won’t experience a personal lesson in the actions that represent love before we actually enter the dating world. It is as easy to say the words I love you as it is to say hello or goodbye, but what does telling someone you love them REALLY mean and how will you act toward those you feel you love? Same goes for someone saying they love you. Do their actions reflect their words? Growing up Disney movies consistently tell the story of star crossed lovers that will be together against all odds. This leads many to feel that saying and feeling love are the only two things you need to do to have a successful relationship. As a result, many of our first “loves” end up in failure because we simply don’t have the tools to show our love through our actions in everyday life.

So how do we SHOW our love through our ACTIONS. The first way to show love rather than just saying “I love you” is to make the person you love a top priority in your life. So often relationships diminish because one or both partners simply cannot find enough time to work on their relationship. It is important to make time for things that are important! Furthermore, the time spent with loved ones must consist of mutual respect, interest in one another’s life, and a genuine concern for the other person’s thoughts and feelings. So often we feel we are doing everything to show someone we love them but our partners don’t seem to agree. This is why it is important to really get to know someone before considering whether or not you actually love them. Love is a strong word and shouldn’t be taken lightly but many jump into “love” quickly. Because of the influence movies and storybooks about fairytale princes and princesses have on our childhood concept of love, too often do we immediately jump into serious relationships at the first sign of chemistry with another person.

It is important to distinguish between lust, a physical desire that is perfectly natural, a simple interest in someone, and actual unconditional love for another person. Real love takes work, time, and resilience. Rarely, if ever will a person in a happy, long term partnership say it didn’t take a lot of work. It takes effort to understand someone else and work together as a unit to build a life together. Valuable interpersonal skills are essential to a healthy and loving relationship. The ability to compromise, communicate, actively listen and take on extra responsibilities that come with building a life with someone are important tools in addition to just saying “I love you”. Love includes being able to trust another person with your heart, depend on them to be faithful and to keep your darkest secrets. When you add all these factors into the concept of love, it complicates things, but without putting in any work, is it really love? Love is complicated, there are ups and downs in every love story and it will test you in ways many never think imaginable.

Lastly love requires resilience. Resilience means being able to overcome the obstacles that come with any and every relationship. Many adolescent relationships don’t last and tend to take on a dramatic flair because teenagers often don’t have the problem solving skills, maturity and faith in the future of their relationships to make it work. Showing love through actions AND words shows an absolute willingness to give a part of yourself to someone else. In return, working on communication, sacrifice and overcoming obstacles can eventually lead to a lifetime of happiness if you and your partner are “meant to be”. Meant to be meaning having compatible lifestyles, expectations, interests etc. A larger part of the fantasy of finding your soulmate is putting in effort in your partnership while feeling that your efforts are reciprocated and your partner shares the love you feel. Resilience comes from understanding that LOVE is a commitment to another person, that it takes work and that in addition to stating that you love someone, you must also show it through your daily words and actions in order to keep your relationship strong. At some point many of us come to a place where we feel love doesn’t exist because our Cinderella story won’t come true, but it is important to first define what real life love is and looks like. Love is 1% words and 99% action and true love only exists if you work for it!

Love is an unconditial commitment to an imperfect person. To love somebody isn’t just a a strong Feeling. It is a Decision, a Judgement, and a Promise
~ Jessie Jeanine ~