It’s a messy lesson.
I’ve quoted Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem, “In Memoriam A.H.H“, plenty of times over the years—in poetry, short stories, and even in public. Specifically, the well known portion that states, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” This passage has been tried and rings true to so many, most often relating to romance and the concept of falling in love despite the consequences. Funnily enough, this poem touches more on the concept of death, friendship, and grief than it ever has romantic love. Dissections of this piece show that the writer wrote this poem in response to the loss of a close friend, not after a breakup or death of a romantic partner. We, as humans, who feel so much all of the time, relate this quote to our wounds of love.
“Why does this matter?” you may ask. After all, this article is not a dissertation on the poem referenced but one girl’s thoughts on what love encompasses. It relates because of one reason, one messy horrible reason that no one enjoys admitting— love hurts.
No matter the dynamics of the relationship or how amazing the person you love may be, love will always come with hurt attached. No person is perfect (not even your mom), and because of that, no relationship is perfect. I learned as a child and as a true romantic at heart that I’ve grown up seeking that perfect kind of love. Whether romantic or not, I’ve always told myself that I deserve the best, but in actuality, deserving the best is a totally different concept than deserving perfection. Perfection will never exist, and that is what I was actually seeking.
All of this is to say that the majority of us tend to sully our relationships often and exist sadly with the thought that we will never find true love. Often, this is simply because we are always seeking more than we are given, even if what we are given is amazing.
I should note that if you feel like everything is wrong or like nothing is right, then that is a love you should be willing to say goodbye to. However, if you love your partner wholeheartedly but are always wondering what else is there for you, then you should reevaluate what you are looking for in love and ask yourself the following questions.
1. Do you enjoy your relationship or has it turned into a relationship of convenience?
Are you enjoying your relationship? Are you fulfilled? Or are you stuck in a routine that’s become comfortable and convenient? If you are a person of habit, then the scariest word you know may be the word change. If your partner is not making you happy and you are miserable in the relationship, then you should move on. We all want the “ever after,” but don’t forget that it should be a happy ending.
2. Are you placing your past hurts on your current love?
Did you have that one messy love that closed you off to the world for a long time? Or a string of messy relationships that felt nothing but toxic? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then it may be wise to consider if the issues in your partnership stem from your past emotional damage. Are you treating your partner as collateral damage in the healing process of a past hurt? Are you even healing from those past pains? Take the time and effort to realize what your flaws are in your relationship and work on fixing them. It’s a slow process but no one wants to be constantly compared to the person who broke their loved one’s heart.
3. What are you seeking in your relationship?
Are you aware of what you really want in a relationship? Do you think that you and your partner are on the same page? Write down what you expect from your partnership and what your must-haves are and evaluate what you need to be happy. It’s no good for you or your partner if you are just going through the daily motions of a relationship with no defining plans in mind.
4. Are you emotionally sound with who you are as a person or are you seeking love to heal your emotional wounds?
In an article written for Pyschology Today, author and pyschologist John T. Chirban stated,”Striving for socially defined success is the path most people pursue for seeking fulfillment.” Looking for love in others should always be done after finding love within the self. Write down what you love about yourself and what you love about your partner. If everything you love about your partner is about how they treat you instead of the things that make them special, then you may be relying on your partner to validate your own self-worth. A great relationship has a balance between being special and making your partner feel special. After that exercise, it may be a good idea to write down the things you do to make your partner feel special. Are you giving enough in your relationship too?
At the end of the day, love will hurt. It will hurt every single time. But the hurts are what make relationships stronger. They are also how you will know if the relationship will last.
So my challenge to you is this: Reflect on your relationship. Consider the good, the bad, the ups, and the downs. At the end of it all, if you can’t picture your life without your partner, then dealing with the reward is worth the risk, and that is what really matters.