As an Orlando counselor I hear from clients quite often who struggle with love. This can vary from a range of trying to navigate relationships or how to act when they feel love. This raises questions for me on what “love” even is.
There are so many common quotes associated with the word “love.” We have all heard them before:
"Love at first sight"
"If you love something, let it go"
"Love is patient, love is kind"
"You don't give up on someone you love"
"You can't love someone unless you love yourself"
"There is no timestamp on love"
I call "BS" on all of this.
As a young woman who grew up watching Disney movies, romantic comedies, and far too many Chicken Soup books, I can say that none of this is relevant. This may be an opinion, but is something to really consider when you're looking at your relationships, your values and your ideas about what love is.
Really ask yourself, where did you learn to define love? Where did your values come from? Your answers might be experiences and previous relationships, your parents, or some unrealistic movie or show that portrayed it. The real answer is that you get to decide what love is, what it feels like, and what it entails, no one else.
The truth is, love is a construct that we chase our entire lives. We are born and told you will find your prince charming, you will "fall in love", you will get married and have kids. Is this what you want? Have you ever thought about it? That lifestyle is a choice, not a predisposition. We are all different people!
Everyone's love will look different because we are all different. We cannot hold on to visions of love that have persisted through lifetimes including when people who loved each other couldn't be together because of race, sexual identity or preference. We are allowed to experience and find love in our own way.
What I am really trying to say here is that you can't give into this fantasy of what love is. You can take in all of this information, all of these ideas and adapt it based off of your own system of values and beliefs. Challenge your previous thinking. Don't let a quote on a canvas sold at your local home decor store dictate what you believe to be love. We all love differently, we all think differently, we all experience things differently. No single person can tell you what love is or isn't.
From my perspective, love is a partnership. Love is choosing to work with someone, and in that work includes individual work on oneself to celebrate together, to hold each other accountable. Love is an understanding that nothing will be perfect. Love isn't something that is held specifically in romantic relationships. Love is the person who understands you without saying a word. Love can be found in your best friend, your Aunt, your mentor, your pet who is always happy to see you.
So again ask yourself, what is love and what do I value in it? Everyone's answer will be different. But perhaps your definition fits closely with another person, your "soulmate". Your values and beliefs are valid, but challenge yourself the best you can. Experience life in every moment, be present and challenge your mind.
That's where you will find love, not just for another but also for yourself.
You are worthy.
If you or someone you know is struggling with the identification, meaning, or experience of love, contact an Orlando counselor at Orlando Thrive Therapy today. We provide services, feedback and deep questioning to help clients better understand themselves and their partners in both individual and couple's therapy. To speak to the author of this article contact Mallory Hawkes, MS, RMCHI at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thrive on!