A recent client was struggling with the concept of love. She knew she loved her boyfriend but she wasn’t sure she was in love with her boyfriend. “Does that even make sense?” she asked.
As we’ve told so many clients: love is easy, relationships are hard. There’s definitely a difference between loving someone and being in love with them. Love is a human emotion. You can’t help it. It happens or it doesn’t. When we experience the feelings of love, we are swept away by them and they seem to take all of the logic out of the atmosphere. Love is the greatest of emotions and all people are looking to feel it.
When we love someone intimately, we may choose to move forward in a relationship with that person. At that point, it is no longer just a feeling - it is a decision. We love that person and we’re choosing to be in love with them. That feeling is great but we’ve got to choose to love who they are as a person - their weird family, their messiness, their moody moments.
When we have emotional love for that other person, we truly want to see them succeed and thrive and grow. When we make the choice to be in love with someone, we are often putting in expectations that they will want the same growth and happiness for us.
Loving someone tends to last even after a relationship is over. This is why we mourn the loss of the relationship and are sad when it ends. The loss of the feeling is difficult, even if the loss of the messiness and moodiness isn’t all that bad.
If emotional love is the natural process, then we can only truly control the relationship part of it. We must choose to jump in with a little extra energy when that person doesn’t have it. We must make the choice to be a member of a team that is working to tackle the everyday challenges of life.
As any parent knows, you can love your kids unconditionally and yet not like them very much when they’re acting out. The same is true for the people in our intimate relationships. We can love our partner deeply, even in the moments where we aren’t feeling very in love with them.