You know, Real Love is not how my girl Mary J. Blige sang about it (and please know that that song was my JAM!) All she was talking about was feelings. I mean, how do you set someone’s heart free? And for realz, while I was bopping to that song and others that fed me a constant stream of feelings, my relationships sucked. Give you an example:
The very first “real” relationship I had (that was fairly monogamous-don’t judge me) should have a roller coaster ride named after it—it was that up and down and in and out. One minute, we were on top of each other like monkeys; the next, we had dissolved into near physical violence. We spent hours on the phone, waxing poetic about how we made each other feel. If I hadn’t deleted every last one of them, I would still be ashamed of the sappy and really kind of creepy emails we sent to each other. I can’t even tell you how silly it seems to me now that I have been married for a while.
At the time, you could not have made me believe that I didn’t love him. I felt so strongly about him—depressed and anxious when he didn’t answer the phone; giddy and giggly when he called me back; excited each time we went out; ecstatic when we had sex; bored when he was not around; lonely when I had to leave him; I could go on, and every last one of you could relate to some aspect of that adrenaline rush, that crushing lust, that movement in the atmosphere when you were with that person.
And yet, when I compare that relationship to the one I’m in now, I have to deal honestly with myself: that simply was not love.
While real love carries an element of passion (I mean, you simply cannot love something or someone and not be passionate about it), real love should never be equated with how you feel. Feelings are ephemeral, shifting with the winds of change. Anything at any moment can change how you feel: If you got enough sleep; if you didn’t have coffee; if your mom called with bad news; if your phone is cut off; if you have no money; if you had sex that morning; if your hair is looking particularly awesome; if you are on a deadline at work; if you had a fight; if you feel insecure with your weight; if it is the weekend; if someone said something mean; if you prayed or not; if you had lunch at your favorite place; if it is time for a performance review; if you went to church; if you had to have dinner with people you don’t like; if your show got canceled; if you disagree about what to watch; if you said I love you this morning; if you got a hug or not after work…
From the time you wake up until the time you lie down again, so many things happen that affect your feelings, which determine your happiness. And if your concept of love is based on how happy you are at any given moment, your relationship is in serious danger. Happiness and happen and hapless all have the same root meaning: “hap”: good luck, chance. So if your love is affected by every shift and change in your relationship, chances are you’re measuring love by your level of happiness–and good luck with that!
So ask yourself: Do you really love the person you are with? Or are you just loving the feelings produced? Remember that feelings change. Love does not. And if you cannot say that you would stay with a person in the lowest moments of life (yours and theirs), then maybe you need to rethink your definition of love, which I talked about in this post here.