“True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.”
—Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We claim we’re in love and throw around the words “I love you,” as if they’re going out of style.
But how many of us know what it truly means to love someone?
Is it love if we can’t stop thinking about them? Or when they’re the only person in our lives that make us happy? Or if we make our whole life about pleasing them?
If we knew the true definition of love, how many of us would actually be able to say we’ve been in love?
Here are 8 things most people get wrong when it comes to understanding what love is truly all about.
Love is not words, but actions
Words are cheap, or so they say. I’m a writer, so I don’t like to believe it’s true, but it certainly can be.
It’s easy to say things you know people want to hear, so that you can make them temporarily happy, then use them for what you want. Because you don’t have to mean them, and it doesn’t cost you a lot, except needing to talk BS.
When you want to know how someone truly feels about you, pay close attention to their actions. The way someone acts will show you if they love you, or if it’s simply talk.
Love is more than just a feeling
You’ve probably been angry at people you love in your life before. Maybe your parents, a best friend, or even your children, right?
But, of course, you still loved them.
This is love—it transcends temporary feelings which come and go.
Love isn’t pain
How many movies have you seen where people who are crushing on someone express feelings like:
All I can think about is her.
I can’t eat or sleep.
I love him so much it hurts
We’ve come to equate love with pain, but it’s not.
Love is not pain. There might be moments of sadness, hurt, or anger if you have a disagreement or a falling out, but pain should not be the norm. If it is, then chances are you’re in a toxic relationship.
Love doesn’t make you whole
Our society teaches us that our other half is out there somewhere waiting for us to find them. This leaves us thinking that until we do find that special someone, we’re incomplete.
This leads us to place all our happiness and expectations on the shoulders of someone else. Not only is this unfair on that person, but it also leaves us feeling like we’re not in control of our own life.
Love is amazing, but it cannot make you whole—you need to feel whole on your own.
Love is selfless, without completely sacrificing your own needs
They say that love is all about being selfless – thinking about what you can give to someone, instead of thinking about what you can get from them.
And while this is true, it’s also incredibly important that you don’t sacrifice your own needs and desires. If you’re in a healthy, loving relationship, where the other person is just as selfless as you, then you won’t need to worry too much, because chances are you’ll both be ensuring each other’s cups are filled up.
But, if you find yourself with a partner who tends to be quite selfish, your generosity and kindness may be taken advantage of, and this is when you might find your needs are totally ignored. This is not love.
Love is not sex
You can have sex and not be in love, and you can be in love and not be having sex.
When you try and put sex into a relationship too soon, it can drive love away, and potentially compromise the relationship. And sometimes when you remove sex from the equation, it allows real love to grow and flourish.
Love is respect, but not submission
If you love someone, it doesn’t mean you will always agree with them. Far from it.
In fact, it’s healthy to have disagreements in any relationship—as long as you disagree respectfully with one another.
If someone truly loves you, they will care enough about you and your relationship to speak up if they think you’re wrong, or if they feel hurt by something.
We’re only human, which means we’re all wrong at times in our lives.
Love can only be found by love
When our own hearts are full and swelling with love for ourselves, only then will we be able to attract the kind of love we’re seeking out there.
We’ve been convinced that love comes from outside of us, but it doesn’t—it comes from within.
And true love can only be found by love. Love goes where love already is. The more love you already feel, the easier it’ll be to attract.