Many of us see love as some lofty cure-all for our life’s problems. We enjoy watching love movies because they show us this fairytale of how this guy and girl fall in love with each other, then they go through this breakup, get back together, and in the end, love conquers all.
For many of us, this is furthest from the truth, but it only feeds our desire to obtain love. Our movies, our stories and our history all celebrate it as life’s ultimate goal—the best solution for all of our pain and struggle. And because we idealize love, we overestimate it. As a result, our relationships pay a price.
A healthy relationship requires more than pure emotion and lofty passions, and we need to understand that. The secret of the successful relationship hinges on deeper and more important values. The problem with idealizing love is that it causes us to develop unrealistic expectations about what love actually is and what it can do for us.
My ex boyfriend and I were madly in love with each other. We also lived in different cities, had families who hated each other, and went through weekly bouts of meaningless drama and fighting.
And every time we fought, we’d come back to each other the next day, make up and remind each other how crazy we were about one another, that none of those little things matter because we’re so in love and we’ll find a way to work it out and everything will be great, just you wait and see. We did not try to solve the problems we argued about nor find out what was causing them because our love made us feel like we were overcoming our issues. Yet on a practical level, absolutely nothing had changed.
Since we did not solve the problems, our fights repeated themselves. The arguments got worse. Our inability to ever see each other hung around our necks like an albatross. We were both self-absorbed to the point where we couldn’t even communicate that effectively. Hours and hours talking on the phone with nothing actually said. Looking back, there was no hope that it was going to last.
After all, love conquers all, right?
Unsurprisingly, that relationship burst into flames. The break-up was ugly. And the big lesson I took away from it was this: while love may make you feel better about your relationship problems, it doesn’t actually solve any of them.
Just because you’re in love does not mean that he is a good choice for you. Love is an emotional process; compatibility is a logical process. A lot of disastrous relationships were entered into on the basis of emotion — we felt that “spark” and so we just dove in head first. In that moment, it felt right to start a relationship regardless of everything, but after dating you look around and wonder, “Where did it go wrong?”
The truth is, it went wrong before it even began.
When you looking for a partner, you must use not only your heart, but your mind. You need to evaluate a person’s values, how they treat themselves, how they treat those close to them, their ambitions and their worldviews in general. Because if you fall in love with someone who is incompatible with you, who doesn’t treat you well, who makes you feel worse about yourself, who doesn’t hold the same respect for you as you do for them, or who has such a dysfunctional life themselves that they threaten to bring you down with them, who has different ambitions or life goals that are contradictory to your own, who holds different philosophical beliefs or worldviews that clash with your own sense of reality—well, soon you will realize that after some period, you will not have nice moments in the relationship, and you certainly will not be able to be happy.