I know what love is. And I know what it sure as hell isn’t. No one’s born knowing. In my case, I only got it after many tedious attempts at misplaced affection. (Thankfully, my suffering yielded a few not too shabby souvenir poems and songs, so there’s that.)
Understanding this stuff is essential. I mean, really, if you don’t know how to love and how to get what you need from your partner, how are you ever going to create and maintain a healthy relationship? You’re not! Which brings me to this email from yesterday:
I have been with this guy for 2 years. We were engaged and living together. He left me two months ago and I can’t figure out exactly why he won’t even say I love you anymore. I had caught him before on chat lines giving other women his number talking very very dirty. Even talking to his ex and well, I left him. After a couple months I went back because he proposed to me and swore it was me he wanted. He said he was gonna change and he wanted to make me happy. That lasted about 5 months. I found out this time when we broke up he was still talking to his ex. He even told me he met a girl at a bar for a one night bj but swears that’s all that happened. Now he said he wanted to be “f__ friends” with me and that’s all or nothing. I don’t know what to do anymore. I love him still so much after all that’s happened and I can’t understand why. I just wish he loved me. I don’t think he ever has. Please help me I’m seriously depressed…
Lost and Confused
Dear L & C,
You say that you “still love him” and that you wish he would “just love” you. I’m not sure what kind of love you’re talking about, but it isn’t enough to make this work. What the guy did was flat-out wrong, disrespectful and low. But let’s be fair… you didn’t show the greatest judgment either. Part of your current situation is a direct result of taking him back after he betrayed you. I’m guessing that you really didn’t trust him. You still don’t! Yet you allowed yourself to believe he’d get his act together. (Based on what? “LOVE”?) It also sounds like you two never addressed the hurt caused by the first betrayal. Never discussed why he thought it was OK to cheat on you. And because you never dealt with it, it came back to bite you… hard. The fact that now all he wants from you is to be one of his “f__ friends” really says it all, doesn’t it? And the reason you “still love” this self-centered disrespectful individual “so much” is… why?
What you need to move forward is more self-respect. When you develop that you won’t need me or anyone else to tell you that this isn’t love. If you need help sorting out your feelings and working on self-esteem, then I strongly suggest that you find a counselor or a therapist to talk with.
Most parents I talk with say they absolutely want their teen daughters and sons to grow up to be “a good partner in a healthy committed relationship.” If we’re going to walk the walk, we really need to be teaching our kids that love isn’t enough.