Love is not enough.
Let the words sink in for a moment. Now, I’ll tell you my thoughts on that statement. If someone had told me that five years ago, I would have wholeheartedly disagreed. I would have protested.
At this point in my life, I have had too much experience to believe otherwise.
Now, I know it is the truth: love is simply not enough.
When I was growing up, I did not necessarily dream of my wedding day, nor did I dream of my future children. No, what I dreamt of was romantic love. I was obsessed with it; I read fairy tales, romance books, and constantly tried to envision what the love of my life would be like. I imagined what falling in love would feel like, the rush of passion and desperate need for physical proximity and intimacy. The intoxicated love which makes bold, matter-of-life-and-death pronouncements.
When I finally fell in love for the first time, it had all the trappings of romantic fairy tale love. The kind you read about in books, the Hollywood giftwrapped variety. Whenever I fell in love – and I have fallen many times by now – I fell hard. It came with all the fireworks and heartache one would expect from a television series or a fiery mass market paperback romance. Oh, the sweet pain of being in love, I would sigh, an echo of centuries’ worth of romantic sentiment.
But alas, this was not love. And what I’ve learned – what I’ve learned the hard way – is that this rush of feeling in love is not enough to keep two people together.
Love always (or often) starts out with a surge of emotion. There is a spark, connection, the urgent excitement, the eagerness to see each other, to speak, to touch, to spend every waking moment together. The passion, the energy, the heat. We all love it, and we all yearn for it. Hollywood chick flicks dish these stories out by the dozen, and yet somehow we never tire of it.
What movies and shows do not display – and what some books do show, but could certainly never be labeled romance if they do – is the blood, sweat, and tears. What people are sometimes loath to admit is that their relationship is not all sunshine and roses. While we often present a shiny facade on social media, adorable couple pictures the source of endless amounts of jealousy, we are reluctant to be honest with each other and often our own selves about the difficulties and stresses of a romantic relationship.
Relationships can be ugly, worn out, boring, and positively unbearable at times. So, if love is not enough, what can we possibly search for in life?
That initial rush of passion and excitement is only a shadow of love, but real love takes time. True love is the product of effort and an extraordinary amount of work from the two people involved.
Love, in its most genuine form, is not what you feel. It’s what you do.
Love means taking action. It means setting aside your own ego and truly putting the other person above yourself. True love is the epitome of selflessness, and should be measured not by depth of feeling but by extent of effort and thoughtfulness. The love that lasts is the one which is founded upon real friendship, and built by the effort of both parties. It is a simultaneous work on development of the self and development of the relationship. When you are actually in love with someone, you never, ever stop working to maintain that love.
Love is like a garden. If you don’t tend to it on a regular basis, the weeds will grow, and they will choke the flowers. Love is work and struggle, and there is no respite from that without consequences. You should never let the weeds grow.
You must fight for love, protect it. Build fences around it, guard it with your life. Respect it, cherish it. It is not enough for love to simply be. Love must be earned, over and over again. Love must be won on a daily basis. It is a constant pursuit and a constant reward.
Love is visible action and progress. Love is not sex or passion or chemistry. It can encompass them, but it is not exclusively any one of those things.
Similarly, love for God cannot be a mere feeling. Love necessitates action, a setting aside of one’s own ego. Love is nullification of the ego to the other. Your pride cannot blind you from the needs and desires of your counterpart, whether it’s your partner or God.
But be very careful that you do not make the mistake of total nullification of the self in a human relationship. You are not two halves coming together; you are two wholes becoming partners, and as such, you cannot lose yourself. You cannot worship your partner, or forget your own needs and desires completely. There is a very careful balancing act involved in love; you must not be so aloof and separate that you are simply two loose ends in the same room.
Look for the love that is visible. Look for the love that translates to work. Do not be deceived by words or feelings, which mean nothing without action.
Look for the love that grows, which is gentle and caring, not fleeting and wild. Look for friendship, companionship, and support. Seek the partnership that grounds you in your truest self, that encourages you to reach higher, to strive to be better. Look for the love which demonstrates kindness and consideration.
But before you seek this love, before you can be ready for true love, you must become the person you need to be for the person you desire. You must always work on yourself, grow, learn, reach beyond the limits of your own mind. And remember: you are only as limited as you say you are.
You must be self-aware, cognizant of your own weaknesses, your strengths. You must not be in denial; you must embrace truth. You cannot have real love without truth.
Truth is the prerequisite for real love. You must be honest with yourself, and honest with those around you.
Then, only then, can you expect to find the kind of love that deep down, you know you deserve.
And you will find it.