Unlucky in love? Your definition of love is probably the reason.
Universally, there are only two things every person wants: Love and money. Of the two, money is so much simpler to understand and obtain. It’s transactional. You provide a service. You make money. Done.
The definition of love, on the other hand, is harder to pin down. And so much more complicated when what you think you know is both ironic and contradictory.
Love is fleeting. Love is forever. It’s all-consuming, yet mercurial. Difficult to keep.
A marriage is love that lasts a lifetime, though you better enjoy the honeymoon period, because it won’t last. And watch out for the seven-year itch!
Even with evidence that marriage doesn’t equal love and love doesn’t last, you still pretend that it will. That’s a pretty high and unrealistic bar you’ve just set for yourself.
So, what is your definition of love, and how could it be holding you back in your relationship?
Sure, I have no doubt that you’ve been in love before. And what happened? Your experiences never matched up to all those fairy tales you consumed as a child.
You think it does… At first. You’ve cast them as the leading role in the movie you’re acting out in your mind.
Your brain is your most powerful sex organ, after all. Then, that exciting, heady rush of attraction and lust burns out.
Maybe it lasted long enough to get married. And maybe you got married anyway, even though you knew it was already gone, turning love (and sex) into just another transaction.
Done. You might not have the love you want, but at least, you can check that box, right?
Most people aren’t happy in their relationships, married or not. You either keep repeating the same patterns over and over again in a neverending cycle, or you just give up and decide this is the best you can get.
You couldn’t crack the code, so either something is wrong with you, or love doesn’t exist at all.
Neither is true. Your definition of love is wrong.
Here are 5 ways your definition of love is setting you up for failure.
1. You Equate Someone’s “Need” for You as Love.
Have you ever said or been told, “I need you?” It’s not a compliment.
Need signifies emotional lack and dependence. It might bolster the ego, but it is a subtle manipulation intended to tie you together through obligation and guilt.
There is a fine line between being needed or needy that quickly turns into responsibility. That’s control, not love.
2. You Believe It Validates You.
What comes to mind with this one is the noxious line from the movie, Jerry Maguire: “You complete me.” Yuck. Did you almost throw up in your mouth a little, too?
Looking for external validation in a relationship is a zero-sum game. Once you let false beliefs define you, you’re now stuck on the hamster wheel of not smart enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough, not good enough, not enough.
If you don’t already know your worth, no one else will.
Love is not service. Or sacrifice. Jumping through hoops in a relationship is always about power and lack of boundaries.
Again, that’s control, not love.
3. You Believe It Should Be Unconditional.
The idea of unconditional love is probably the most insidious and damaging myth of all time. Why would you ever believe it’s a good thing? Without boundaries, the door is wide open for any kind of bad behavior, poor judgment and all types of abuse… Without consequence.
And what is it really saying? You won’t be loved if there are conditions? If that is the case, you aren’t giving yourself or your partner much credit, are you?
And if your relationship truly can’t survive with conditions, then that’s control, not love.
4. You Think It Should Last Forever.
Everything in life is a cycle. Birth. Life. Death. And the same is true with relationships. They are constantly changing and evolving.
And how could they not, when the world is constantly changing and evolving? When you are constantly changing and evolving?
Do you expect that your favorite color as a child would be your favorite color forever? No, of course not.
Your preferences, goals and desires change over time with experience. So, thinking your relationship will last forever is also unrealistic.
And it absolutely won’t last if you’ve already pre-determined what it has to be in the future… Because it means you aren’t paying attention to it in the here and now.
And guess what? That predetermination is control, not love.
5. You Believe It Should Come Without Cost.
Love is never freely given. There is always a cost. And why wouldn’t there be? It wouldn’t have any value, otherwise.
The difference is that real love is earned. But control disguised as love is paid for again, and again, and again.
It’s difficult to tell the difference when the spotlight of attention on you feels so good. Eventually, that feel-good glow is replaced with obligation, guilt, and shame.
You’re constantly paying into a relationship with what’s left of your self-esteem, always trying to prove your worth. The idea of love and what this relationship is “supposed to be” has become more important than you or your partner.
And now, neither of you are getting what you want, but you both go along with it because you don’t see any other choice. That’s control, not love.
No one can give you what you can’t find in yourself. Attention is not love. Service is not love. Sacrifice is not love. Obligation is not love.
You never need to lose yourself in a relationship. The relationship is there to serve you, not the other way around.
Love is not a destination. And it isn’t a substitute for worth.
Your capacity for love starts with you first. You teach everyone around you how to treat you based on how you treat you. This is only learned through the boundaries you insist on for yourself and others.
Love is earned through respect, appreciation, vulnerability and dedicated care. When you give them to yourself first, others have to treat you in kind to earn them from you in return.
Otherwise, they have no place in your life. Once earned though, love is a choice. One you can keep making… or not… based on how it serves you and how it makes you feel about yourself. And in a world of infinite choices, choosing and being chosen is the only love that is truly real.
This guest article was first published on YourTango.com: 5 Ways Your Definition Of Love Is Holding You Back.