What does it mean to love someone vs being “in love”? My answer to that question has been academically answered for the majority of my life. Even as a child you can’t really help if you get paired up with someone you don’t know or necessarily like because it may cause turmoil, and no one wants that if it can actually be avoided. We are taught young to love our family, even if you don’t like them, their choices or their behavior.. Moving away, seeing a therapist, there are various ways to deal with some situations but you’re going to have to figure it out for each person individually.
Obviously it feels good to be doted on and loved by your partner, but have you truly invested yourself? You have to do the most you can to,, even during the hardest times.
Some people fit the bill to be fallen in love with and boy, does that blow your mind. But what if the feeling isn’t mutual? That can be exceptionally awkward and the best way to go about that is to talk to your wanna be SO, and give them fair and honest answers. It can be very difficult but its best not to waste time with the wrong one when the right one could be right around the corner. That’s probably why so many believe there is an element of luck to finding and staying in love. Perhaps there is. Honestly, I’ve always felt the “there’s someone out there for everybody” concept to be the most viable. Previous relationships teach you more about yourself than you can imagine. Assess what you did right, things to could have done better, and things that a SO must have, I.e- no deal breakers. This makes you far more ready for the next person you get involved with.
Granted, I don’t have tons of relationship experience, only five serious relationships. I think I grew wiser and stronger each time. I’m currently blessed to be with a man that had seen the dark and scary parts of me first hand yet he’s still holding it. We met over eight years ago when we were both working a horrible call center job.,,,,, I’ve had ups and downs, sure, but mine go from normal and understandable anger to a place of pure evil. There are not many men that could live life as my husband does. When he’s not working 60+ hours in nightshifts, he’s barely getting any rest, and the time he does spend with me can sometimes be about as as fun as being chewed to death by a pit bull… I know why I love him. Jacob is easy to love. We got pregnant early but lost it. He was so supportive it was nothing short of incredible. I had adopted a “baby” named Scooter Albert and he totally solidified our bond. We’ve both recently lost our fathers and Jacob was amazing during that time. I, however, chose to go on a bender for the three days he was gone- wine from morning to night, it was, in hindsight, the most humiliating and embarrassing time of my life. I’ve physically and emotionally abused him countless times. I never mean for it to happen, and I don’t often remember the incident afterwards. Clearly my emotional and mental health are in for rough work ahead. The physical attacks are something I believe I can control once I work through my issues and get on proper medications. When Scooter died, he took a large chunk of me with him. I’m still very much grieving over losing my sweet innocent little blond boy with an adorable curly tail.

Jacob was heartbroken too, but he stayed strong for me. He works an incredibly difficult job that manages to eat into his time off constantly. When we met, we pretty much started dating. I felt so loved by him, so cherished. But I’m not even a shadow of what I was then: about 30 lbs heavier, long blond natural hair, natural teeth, and my insanity was being well managed. That is not what I am today and Jacob must truly be in love with me to still be my husband. He never makes demands on me, he never treats me poorly unprovoked, but mostly, he cares for me.

After most of our spats we’re able to come back to it calmly and come to a resolution, and in some instances we just agree to disagree which is perfectly fine. What’s important is that we come back to it when heads are cooler and figure out how that particular issue applies to us.

Now, loving someone is a different ballgame. You can love someone without the feelings that accomondate being IN love. You love your family, you love your friends, and you love countless others but you couldn’t see yourself being intimate with them. Unfortunately, your heart can get beat up pretty bad with this love as well. The prime example is one a loved one passes away. The pain you feel isn’t just in your chest, its everywhere- its all consuming, its all you know. You can experience similar pain and emptiness when someone you care for dearly just exits your life for no discernable reason. When my dad died I called my youngest sister, my best friend for the majority of my life, and told her. Within mere minutes I was public enemy number one and all 3 of my sisters had permanently cut me off. Although I lost all three, the youngest was my best friend, cradle to grave, and the utter feeling of worthlessness and being discarded has damaged my spirit in a way I can’t fully exclaim.. Perhaps it all melts down to my desperate inherent need to be liked. I know from my work as a nurse and my education in psychology that this is a very destructive character trait, no one is always going to love you to the extent or in the manner you do.
The bottom line is fairly simple: love others but protect your heart. Be ready for the one that comes along and takes your breath away, the love of your life. Don’t let negativity eat away at your happiness. If there’s toxic people in your life: lose them- immediately. Love yourself, I know its difficult but you’re here for a reason and if anyone is going to love you, it needs to be you first. Giving love to others without an open and available heart/mind isn’t possible.
When someone you love hurts you, remember why you love them in the first place; if the love is bigger than the hurt, let it go- as long as it isn’t a form of abuse. You’re going to get hurt, its a part of the human condition and completely unavoidable. For the hurts that don’t seem to go away, a professional may be a good tool. Some things are always going to hurt- the loss of a loved one, being discarded by those people you thought loved you but had no issue extracting you from their life. The anguish of these situations, such as the one with my younger sister, never heal fully and most people, myself included, will welcome these people back with loving open arms. Will they decimate you again? Probably, but only if you give them the ability to do so. Keeping your guard up is the way to figure out another person’s intentions. Only you can know if things actually changed. If they truly lament the way you were mistreated, or if they just want you back for less than savory reasons. Just be open and careful. You only get the one heart, do your best to protect it. You deserve the best this life can offer, and once you accept that as a fundamental truth, the happier and more loving you’ll be.

Chelsea Johnston-Clary

How badly it hurts is up to you.