What the What?!

Scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed can be a dangerous activity: you realize how stupid some of your friends are, who among you is stupid and well, other weird things you wouldn’t necessarily know unless a meme had been created about it.  However, one of the most popular topics on Facebook, other than politics and the conspiracy theories that accompany them, is the notion of what love is or isn’t.  I found the following text on a friend’s page, and, I have to say, it is a bunch of bull shit.  My opinion can be found in (bold italic parentheses).

“ARE YOU WITH THE RIGHT PARTNER?  (Gripping title)

During a seminar (What kind of seminar?  An “Are you with the right partner” seminar?), a woman asked,” How do I know if I am with the right person?”  (If this is not an “Are you with the right partner?” seminar, this question seems really bizarre and I need some background information to make this make more sense.)

The author (Again, I am really confused – are we at a seminar, a book signing, a Q&A after the seminar book signing?  Who is this author?)then noticed that there was a large man sitting next to her so he said  (If there was a small man next to her would the author have been prompted to ask the same questio?), “It depends. Is that your partner?” In all seriousness, she answered “How do you know?”  (I don’t know, lady, maybe it has something to do with the fact that you’re sitting next to him?) Let me answer this question because the chances are good that it’s weighing on your mind
replied the author.

Here’s the answer.

Every relationship has a cycle… In the beginning; you fall in love with your partner. You anticipate their calls,
want their touch, and like their idiosyncrasies. Falling in love wasn’t hard. In fact, it was a completely natural and spontaneous experience. You didn’t have to DO anything. That’s why it’s called “falling” in love.

(I kindly disagree – the beginning of my relationship was the hardest time in its history.  This is mainly due to the fact that by this point in my life, I’d been with pretty much the worst kinds of men imaginable.  I knew what it meant to have your heart broken, to be left behind and to be let down.  I was no stranger to lies, unfulfilled promises and the bare minimum when it came to effort.  When I met Bryan, I knew it was love – in fact, I think I fell in love with him the moment I met him.  But I had to fucking work for that shit.

At the risk of sounding like a stalker, I Facebook/Google/Twittered the shit out of him to get all the information I could.  I strategically ran into him in the hallway and began laying the groundwork during the mini-conversations we’d have before returning to our respective desks.  I spent many an hour crafting the perfect text message, trying to find the balance between alluring and desperate.  

Additionally, Alain de Botton (one of my favorite authors of all time) once said, “The telephone becomes an instrument of torture in the demonic hands of a beloved who doesn’t call.”  The period of time spent waiting for replies and returned phone calls can afflict you with some of the greatest pain known to man.  So, whoever isn’t “working” in the beginning of a relationship is probably paying for it.  Hashtag true story.)

People in love sometimes say, “I was swept of my feet.”  (I don’t think that’s something people say anymore.)  Picture the expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing  (You’re not doing nothing – you’re sweeping.  And if you’re doing nothing, then you’re not doing it right.), and then something happened TO YOU.  (All right, let’s just take a beat and think about this for a minute.  While you might have been standing around before someone swept you off your feet – even though you were doing “nothing”, the person sweeping off your feet was doing something.  They were making an effort to get hold of your heart which is no small feat!  So, think about that the next time you say things just happen – the truth of the matter is that no one ever got something because they didn’t work for it.)

Falling in love is a passive  (There is NOTHING passive about love.) and spontaneous experience. But after a few months or years of being together, the euphoria of love fades. It’s a natural cycle of EVERY relationship.

Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens), and your spouse’s idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts  (This is probably the most depressing sentence I have ever read in my god damn life…and I read “The Notebook”.  I’m not going to lie and say there aren’t times when I need to be by myself – where I just need to turn my phone off and not be bothered for an hour or two.  But I also have no shame in saying that nothing makes my day better than Bryan’s mid-afternoon phone call telling me he loves me.  I am never more at ease, and convinced everything is going to be okay, than when Bryan is holding me in his arms, running his fingers through my hair.  And even though it bothers the shit out of me that he never tucks the covers under the mattress when making the bed, I can’t say I don’t secretly love it when I don’t have to yank them out from underneath the mattress when I’m cold.  The fact of the matter is that the honeymoon period doesn’t last forever – but true love does.). The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship; you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller  (Never.) or even angry subsequent stage.

At this point, you and/or your partner might start asking, “Am I with the right person?” And as you reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when relationships break down.

The key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person; it’s learning to love the person you found.  (Not true.  God, whoever wrote this thing I hope you find the right person and they show you what an ass you are because seriously, you know NOTHING.  

I’ve dated all the wrong people – liars, abusive liars, creative liars…a lot of wrong people.  Love isn’t about settling for less than you deserve – it isn’t about looking over all the shit that drives you crazy.  And it definitely isn’t about making due…love is about the journey.  The long, difficult and painful path that lets you know the person you eventually fall in love with was fucking worth it.  Love is about pushing through the pain of failed relationships and refusing to settle for less than you want.  Love is about respect and trust and not being thought weird when you sleep with your socks on because it’s cold sometimes.  

Love means never having to change who you are for who you’re with.  Beginning and end of argument.)

People blame their partners for their unhappiness and look outside for fulfillment. Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes.

Infidelity is the most common. But sometimes people turn to work, a hobby, friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances. But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your relationship. It lies within it.  (The dilemma lies within the person who is too chicken shit to admit they want something different.  This is the sort of thing that cheaters tell themselves to absolve them of any guilt.  If you’re unhappy and you don’t say anything don’t blame your relationship – blame the coward in the mirror.)

I’m not saying that you couldn’t fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you’d feel better. But you’d be in the same situation a few years later.

Because (listen carefully to this):

The key to succeeding in a Relationship is not finding the right person; it’s learning to love the Person you found.  (Again, not true.)

SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. You have to work on it day in and day out. It takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it demands WISDOM. You have to know
WHAT TO DO to make it work. Make no mistake about it.  (You see, you make me think you’re a douche for this entire spiel and then you say something like this.  What’s wrong with you?!) 

Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your partner), Just as there are physical laws Of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. If you know how to apply these laws, the results are predictable.  (And now we’re back to thinking you’re a douche again.)

Love is therefore a “decision”.  (All right, pal, you are back to getting on my nerves again.  I have no idea why you chose to put decision in quotation marks – but it doesn’t make you any less wrong.  Love is not a decision.  

However, I can see how you might think that.  Normally, to know this, you need to have been in an abusive relationship.  You see, many people believe that love is like a light switch – you can turn it on and off whenever you please.  They don’t realize that love is a feeling – a deep, uncontrollable feeling.

Love starts wars and leads people to do super ridiculous things like standing outside with a boombox over their head playing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”.  Love is strong and unforgiving.  It conquers all there is to conquer.  And it’s not a choice.

If love were a choice, there would be no such thing as domestic violence.  Would we really opt to love someone who hurts us physically and emotionally?  Would be allow to ourselves to be used, abused and taken advantage of?  Would we forgive our partner’s infidelity time and time again if we could simply decide we didn’t love them anymore?  I think not…) Not just a feeling.

Remember this always: God determines who walks into your life.  (Yeah…I’m going to go with no.) It is up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let GO! (This is true.) ♥”

So let me offer a counter-metaphor that has worked well for me in the past.  Relationships, unlike cycles (seriously, what kind of metaphor is that?), are like people – they are born, they are raised, and they reach maturity.

Now, like people, relationships can also get sick.  Sometimes the illness is minor, like strep throat or the chicken pox, and can be restored to health in a few days with some medication, love and care.  However, some illnesses are a bit more serious and require additional attention.

As with people, relationships are taught how to exist, what to tolerate, and how to behave based on the people who have raised them.  Some relationships are built on respect and trust, while others are founded on lies.

Relationships, like people, can also die.  If the relationship refuses to take the necessary medication, or if it is abandoned, it will not survive.  There are also times when a relationship can get cancer – things grow difficult and sometimes are beyond repair.  But it is up to the two people involved to decide if they want to continue the fight and brave through the storm or if they want to give up and let the relationship die.

Relationships are what you make with another person.  They’re not a chore, a Facebook status or your excuse to not be with your family on Christmas – relationships and love are what makes life worth living.  So go out there, and find yours.

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