When Love Isn’t Enough: How I Learned That I Needed A Lot More Than Love In My Relationship
“But I love him.”
“We have so much in common.”
“I feel like I can tell him anything.”
That was all well and good but when it came to the things that actually mattered, the things that would lay a strong, solid foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship – we struggled.
1. Our core values were very different
In an attempt to just get closer to someone who made me feel good and loved, we ignored the fact that we had very different beliefs. I suppose I thought it would all work out if we cared about each other enough, but it didn’t. My faith is the biggest part of my life but whenever I brought it up, I could see his body language change. He really didn’t want to discuss it. Our views on sexual intimacy were very different too. While he had a much more liberal and casual take on sex, I always believed it to be a much more personal, intimate and even sacred encounter. Did these red flags plague me? Absolutely. But I moved them to a far corner of my mind and tried to focus on all the other ways in which we seemed to work because after all, we had such a great time together. Right?
2. We were both afraid of being alone
I didn’t get to know him that well before we began spending all of our time together in the beginning. I was fresh out of a jacked up relationship, trying to numb the hurt of it with his company. It turned out that we really did enjoy each other’s company, but we were using each other in an attempt to avoid loneliness. He had a string of short, sporadic relationships, one after the other. I was coming out of a years-long on-again off-again tug-of-war with a guy I thought I would marry at one point. Instead of taking time to embrace being by ourselves, to heal, to dig deep and learn the lessons from our previous situations and patterns, we filled our days and nights with one another. We tried to chase away the feeling of emptiness with each other. And it worked–for a while. But it was just a stop-gap measure.
3. We had no direction
We casually sauntered toward each other and took hold. We didn’t know our core values individually. We didn’t sit down and discuss how we wanted this thing between us to go. We both had doubts about each other underneath the long philosophical discussions over pizza or the pillow talk about our families and career aspirations. It was so much deeper than we knew how to get to because we didn’t clearly assess our situation before we jumped into it. Wanting closeness was no reason to be with someone. Having unparalleled physical chemistry was no reason to stay in something that had no direction, no spiritual connection, and no purpose.
4. I compromised more than I should have
I noticed myself leaving God at the door whenever I would visit him and leaving Him at home whenever he would come to take me out. I couldn’t share the biggest part of my life with someone I was in a relationship with because I was afraid it would make him uncomfortable. How backwards is that? To top it off, I compromised myself intimately. I knew our views on sex were very different, but I figured that if I just gave a little slack in that area, things would come together. He’d see things my way.
How wrong and silly of me. If at any point you find yourself compromising things that are sacred to you, you are not in the right relationship. I loved him and I still do. I believe he is a good man despite our many differences, but loving him was not enough when I look back and see how ill-prepared and incompatible we were for our relationship.
I think of him often and pray that he is growing as I have been as a result of knowing and being involved with him. I still care for him deeply from a distance and that’s all right.
When friends and mentees ask me for love advice, I urge them to learn from my mistakes. To have the tough conversations at the very beginning. To allow time to reveal all things. To assess the person they are interested in. We don’t make monetary investments without assessing risk, so why invest our time, energy, emotions, and hearts into a relationship that will not yield mutual benefit and joy? Love is wonderful and necessary, but it does not stand alone in creating a solid, long-lasting relationship.
La Truly is a writer, college professor and young women’s empowerment enthusiast. She mixes her interest in social and cultural issues with her life experiences to encourage thought, discussion and positive change among young Women of Color. Follow her on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and check out her site: http://www.hersoulinc.com.