After years of great friendships, strong family relations, and failed yet worthwhile intimate relationships I’ve come to realize there is a flawed notion of what love entails…especially in intimate relationships…within our society.
Not all love is unconditional like a a faithful parent’s love for their child. Not all love is fluid and timeless like a solid friendship. Not all love is passionate and harmonious like what is deemed as the perfect intimate relationship. It seems though that newer generations like genX and younger believe “if it takes work, it’s not worth it.”
The common thread to keeping love in any relationship alive is very much like caring for a pet or plant. It’s symbiotic in nature. Meaning 1) mutually beneficial; 2) one Being benefits and the other is unaffected, or 3) one Being benefits while the other is harmed.
For instance, in a mutually beneficial relationship with a pet both the caregiver and the pet are happy, provide each other comfort and support, and are healthy. In a one sided benefit that does no harm would be like owning a cactus. The caregiver likes it’s presence but doesn’t provide regular care, which luckily the cactus doesn’t need so is unaffected by the lack of care. In a beneficial yet harmful situation, it would look like a dog owner enjoying having a dog to play with but not taking it for walks, feeding it regularly, or keeping up with its hygiene. The dog suffers.
What we love needs cared for, especially our dearest relationships. Love needs nurtured, watered, fed, and attention. Some need more than others but if that person brings joy to our lives we step up to ensure it lasts.
What I’ve come to realize is that the effort it takes to keep romantic love mutually symbiotic is no longer considered worthwhile by generations from gen-x and younger. People believe that “if it takes effort then it’s not the right ‘one’ so I’ll move on.”
There are a few caveats to why a loving relationship might be abandoned because “it takes too much work.” There are a lot of things that happen to people that make them (temporarily or continually) ill equipped at putting effort into maintaining meaningful relations. Abuse, addiction, poor role models/educators, or lack of face to face social interaction can all contribute. You know what though…we need to take some responsibility for what is on our plate, for what has been served to us. We can choose to either keep eating the shit life served, or we can say “no, I want something more satisfying so I’ll care for myself so I can do what it takes to care for another.”
All Love is symbiotic. Make sure you are caring for yourself enough to be available to healthily choose and care for another and both of you benefit.
Be humble, be kind, and strive for growth.