Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Love & Friendship

What Do You Expect From Love?

I know exactly what you’re thinking. What makes me think I’m the expert on love? Well, let me admit something to you right now. I’m a self-help book/blog junkie, and I’ve probably read more about love than I’ve read about fear or anxiety.

I’ve spent years interviewing and evaluating other people, wondering what exactly is the definition of the L-word?

But here’s the thing. I still don’t have it figured out.

What I do know is no one has it figured out. 

Everyone has different expectations of love, with some common factors. The Big Answer I found from years of searching is this: No one has the answer but you.

So, if you’re wondering what love is, go ahead and read. Ask others, watch movies, look for examples in anyone you know with a great relationship.

But, the final expectation, the final set of criteria falls on you. What do you expect from love? What will you accept, and what won’t you?

It’s a long time in the making, but here’s mine.

1. Honesty. This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s taken me a long time to realize there isn’t much love at all if you don’t respect one another enough to be honest. That goes for both parties, and even on little, tiny issues.

If you can’t generally believe what the other person has to say, so many little issues will pop up as a result. And, of course, trust will be nearly impossible.

Even if you think it will change or get better, if there’s little or no honesty, you’ll eventually become exhausted from constantly questioning and chasing, wondering if they really did what they said they did. And, if it’s easier for you to lie to your partner than to be honest, that’s an issue too.

Love means telling the truth, even when it isn’t the easier route.

2. Respect and Consideration. I wasn’t sure which should come first in my list, honesty or respect. You can’t have one without the other. Your partner should be your biggest advocate, your number one fan, and it should be visible to everyone.

You may have your arguments from time to time, but your partner should still talk about you to everyone he knows as if you are the most amazing person to walk the planet.

Respect is in the way you’re talked about, the way you’re talked to, and in the consideration of your feelings at all times, even in the darkest of fights.

3. Wake up Naked Drinking Coffee, Making Plans to Change the World. Yes, that’s a Dave Matthew’s quote. No, I’m not saying love means drinking coffee together or even sleeping (or waking up) naked, although if that’s your thing-go for it.

I’ve always loved this lyric because it means you get up in the morning and plan your day together, even if it means you’re each going to work. Taking a minute in the morning to connect and communicate sets you up for success and shows you’re both invested enough in the relationship to give it some thought and reflection. The coffee drinkin’s a bonus- and if he brews it just the way you like it, that’s even better.

4. Up-Lifted-Ness. Pretty sure that’s not in any dictionary. Up-Lifted-Ness is when your partner makes you feel excited and energized. He makes you want to strive to be better in all aspects of your life.

He accepts you for who you are, but encourages you to take small steps toward feeling better and achieving more. And, of course, you do the same for him. You can dream together.

5. Butterflies. Say what you will about butterflies. Call it too much Hollywood influence if you must. I watch plenty of love stories, and I certainly don’t expect perfection. But, I’ve come to realize, even if your relationship has been around a really long time and you think you’ve seen it all, those butterflies should still stir up every once in a while. Maybe it takes a special date or a slow dance when you’re the guests at a wedding, but they should always be there, waiting in the background.

6. Changing Fights. I kept asking people about arguments. Everybody argues, right? But I’ve learned there are two types of arguments. 

There are those little ones about who folds the laundry and what color paint to put on the walls. Those are argued about, discussed heatedly at times, but eventually compromised on and solved. These arguments are just fine, they’re actually healthy.

The other arguments are the larger, more fundamental arguments {you don’t want these} where you deal with issues like jealousy, lying, or differences in the way you live your lives that the other is having trouble accepting.

These can be poisonous, can lurk under the surface and keep coming up again and again without ever being solved. The fights stay exactly the same so that even the little arguments about laundry end up being huge screaming matches dealing with jealousy.

7. Acceptance. You accept your partner for who he is, imperfections and all.

You don’t try to control his actions because you realize he makes his own choices, and like it or not, his choice may sometimes be the right one. When it’s not, you’ll let him learn from his mistakes rather than trying to mold his choice to match yours. He feels the same about you and shows it in his actions.

I do believe (whole-heartedly) it takes work, communication, and connection to make all 7 of these happen.

Love may be somewhat of a fairy tale, but there’s certainly a lot of work to be done in that Happily Ever After part.

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