Love isn’t always the answer. It doesn’t always conquer. The famous Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez wasn’t so off when he wrote, “nothing in this world was more difficult than love.” Yet, many lack a clear understanding of what love is. They idolize it as the answer to everything. The be-all and end-all solution to their problems. The power of love is greatly overestimated. As a result, our relationships with the people we care about suffer. Here’s why love is not enough.
An unrealistic understanding of the concept of love can cause us quite some trouble. What happens when we overestimate the power of love can be seen all around us. When we think that love is everything we need, it’s likely that our relationships lack existential ingredients. Love alone cannot compensate a negligence of existential concepts such as patience, compromise and mutual respect.
If, on the other hand, we understand that love really is not always enough, we also understand that maintaining relationships takes effort. When we realize that love alone cannot solve every problem, we’re more willing to confront the underlying issues firsthand. We do not simply expect that love solves all our problems. It doesn’t do that anyways. All it does is cloud our perception about the situation. And before you realize it, relationships that are solely based upon love start to crumble.
A more realistic approach to love helps us put an end to fantasizing about it. We stop seeing it as the ultimate goal of our life. Instead of simply relying on love to be the answer, we learn to cultivate many other meaningful values that relationships require. And, in combination with these values, true love can flourish.
Love Is Not Enough
The harsh truth about love
We all think differently about the concept of love. Everyone of us has their own idea of what love is. We all have our idolized version how true love should be. But in reality, it’s not always that easy. Love is not always the way we hope it is. We hope that once we fall hopelessly in love, everything else starts to miraculously work out. We expect that all will fall into place, but it doesn’t. Unfortunately, our lives are a bit more complicated than that.
1. Love doesn’t conquer all
People say that love conquers all. It doesn’t.
One of the biggest myths about love is that we expect it to conquer all differences and problems. This isn’t always the case. Love resembles the fundament of a relationship. It’s the very reason we’re willing to put in a lot of effort and hard work to maintain a relationship. But ultimately, if one of you is not willing to make this effort, love is not enough. If we expect that love alone is enough, we’re up for an unpleasant surprise.
Also, there are things love can’t fix. Abusive personalities or narcissists, for instance.
2. Love requires compromise
In the context of love, compromising carries many negative connotations. Perhaps this can be attributed to negative relationship experiences in the past. It could also be that we think love conquers all (see above) and therefore assume making compromises is not necessary. That’s wishful thinking.
In reality, love does not only mean compromise, it requires it. If partners are not willing to compromise, the relationship is up for some big trouble. On the other hand, compromising can help us to avoid holding grudges. It helps us to openly speak about the things that bother us.
3. Love and compatibility are two different things
In almost all cases, we assume that those we love would make pretty good long-term partners. However, just because there’s love between two people does not necessarily mean they’re compatible. Love might be the requirement for a harmonious coexistence, but it cannot create this harmony on its own.
In some situations, our feelings misguide our judgment. This is especially the case when it comes to love. It’s an intensely powerful emotion that can cloud our perception. Compatibility, however, is something that shouldn’t be evaluated based on emotions alone. Whether or not you’re compatible does not depend upon emotions. It also takes rational components to answer this question.
It’s entirely possible that we fall in love with someone we’re not compatible with. In the best case, we fall in love with someone who’s just too different from us. This person might have other dreams and ambitions about life. In the worst-case scenario, we fall for some truly dysfunctional characters that are abusive, manipulative or narcissistic in nature. These are most likely to people that do not treat us with the same respect we treat them.
For this reason, when evaluating a partner’s compatibility, heart and mind must work together. It might feel great if you’ve fallen head over heels in love. But having butterflies in your stomach is simply not enough. When it comes to your compatibility, you will also have to consider the plain facts. The way that person treats you. How their dreams are comparable to your own wishes. How your partner treats others.
4. Love does not overcome relationship problems
So, we’ve fallen head over heels in love. We get to know that other person and we begin to get a more realistic picture of them. We start to realize that our partner is just another human being with faults, problems and weaknesses. In most cases, this is a very natural process. In fact, this might be the necessary requirement to truly accept the significant other for who they are.
In some cases, however, this process is not so healthy. This is the case when we think that our love for the other person will solve relationship problems. We think love with help us to find a way to work things out. And we wholeheartedly believe that our boundless love will aid us to overcome the differences.
In reality, however, nothing changes. None of your relationship problems are solved. None of the negative or abusive behaviors of your partner cease. The situation is not solved, it’s just getting worse with every day.
The only thing that love changes is the way we feel about relationship problems. It won’t solve them, but it does make us feel better about them. There’s a big difference between solving a problem and deluding oneself into accepting it.
5. Love is not just words
Words are easily spoken. They make us feel good and create comfort. Especially when it comes to love, hearing those three words for the first time can be truly exciting. But as it is the case with all words, they are the unmanifested expressions of ideas and concepts. Only our actions can make them real.
It takes a lot more than just words to truly love someone. Some people say they love us, but they do not act upon their words. Their actions do not coincide with their words.
6. Love isn’t going to fix you
Life does not automatically restart as soon as love kicks in. The mistakes committed in the past will not be undone. The pain about unresolved issues will not fade. And ultimately, love is not going to fix you. Just because you love someone does not mean you become a better person. Being loved by someone else will also not make you a better person.
It’s certainly true that relationships can help us to start living up to our full potential. But we also have to keep in mind that sooner or later all the exhilarating and euphoric feelings of the early stages will make room for something new. And before you notice it, reality stops to take hold. That’s the point when you realize that you’re still the same person that you were before.
Love inspires us to be better, to strive for our growth as a person. But ultimately, love alone cannot effect that change. Love is not enough to live your true potential. You alone have it in your hands to be more than you are today.
7. Love does not justify sacrificing yourself
Love requires compromise. Even more so, it takes sacrifices to maintain a healthy relationship. That is the wonderful thing about love. It makes us care for the needs of another person. After all, we want our partner to feel just as great as we do. For this reason, we are willing to give up something that is our own to share it with someone else.
Sacrificing your own needs, wishes and desires is a natural part of any relationship. In fact, if such a harmony between giving and taking cannot be established, the relationship is bound to fail.
However, love should not be taken as justification for sacrifices. It should not cause you to sacrifice your dreams and ambitions for the sake of another person. If you have to give up everything that you stand for, your dignity and uniqueness, then it might be a one-sided relationship. If you have to sacrifice yourself just to be with someone, it should raise red flags.
8. Love isn’t always pretty
Love isn’t just bright sunshine. It isn’t just pure bliss and happiness. Love is more than that. It’s frustration, it’s forgiveness. Love is your ability to accept another person wholeheartedly. It gives you strength to stand on this person’s side even when a storm sweeps across their life, destroying everything.
True love is when you stick together during the ugly moments of life just as much as you did during the enjoyable times.
Love isn’t always enough. It’s not going to replace hard work, dedication and mutual respect. It is the very structure of a relationship. Love is the start of something beautiful. Yet, the foundation of a relationship requires much more than just love. It needs to be molded and shaped. It will have to stand the trial of fire, water and air. Only if two people are willing to accept that love is not enough, a long-lasting and healthy relationship can be established.
This is the reason why it’s so important not to let love consume ourselves. It shouldn’t be our most important priority life. It shouldn’t be allowed to serve as justification for sacrifice.
You need more than just love. Love is not enough.
I hope you enjoyed this post on the reasons why love is not enough. What do you think? Will love ever be enough?
Inspired by https://markmanson.net/love