Are you in love, or are you just hungry? People are confused about love because they don’t know what a healthy relationship is. That’s not surprising given the unrealistic portrayals of love in Hollywood, fairy tales, and self-help books. There is this fantasy that we have only one soul mate, and that real love, must at all cost, last forever. While this makes for fun entertainment, it isn’t a healthy view of life.
Most love stories in pop culture and classic literature are based on obsession, or neediness. It’s foundation is an idealization, more than a genuine acceptance of who the other person is. In a traditional romance, lovers must overcome deep obstacles, and it usually involves changing one’s nature, and a sacrifice of the self for true love. There is a huge difference between pure love and need or fixation, but most people can’t tell the difference because we’ve been raised on fantasy.
What do I mean by love vs. need?
Well, genuine love is effortless. It is true and pure – you don’t need that person to change in any way. You don’t even need him to be your boyfriend. You simply enjoy him as a human being, and you’re happy with him being exactly who he is. You don’t need to possess him. You don’t need a title of girlfriend from him. You simply love having him in your life, and he finds it easy being in yours, whether it’s as friends, lovers, or partners.
I have to emphasize that it’s effortless and characterized by two people simply enjoying each other. You truly understand each other, accept all the flaws, you laugh together, you let the other be free. You don’t need to possess him, nor demand loyalty from him. That is the definition of true love and genuine compatibility.
Need on the other hand, does not feel effortless. It does not feel good, but it does feel like anxiety, inadequacy, and is stressful. There is this idea, that the person must give you some indication of where things stand, and continuously prove their fidelity and commitment to you.
When you are fixated or need someone, it feels like you are hungry. What little they offer, is not enough. It feels like you must possess them, you must have them treat you a certain way, give you a certain relationship title, or prove their loyalty to you. You feel that until you have this, the relationship isn’t satisfying, and you don’t feel content.
Most women are so fixated on their relationships, they choke the joy out of them. Instead of the lover feeling relaxed around them, they feel pressure to define the relationship, state their intentions up-front, and promise not to leave. Very quickly, this becomes a situation to escape from, and not an opportunity to get to know a person.
When you are in need, your relationship isn’t easy. Instead, you are on pins and needles, desperately longing they’ll give you reassurance that they belong to you. For most women, that is the title of girlfriend, a pledge of commitment, and promise of a future together.
And this isn’t necessarily the fault of women, most are raised to believe this. Fairy tales, society, and well-meaning parents instruct them to wait for Prince Charming to make their dreams come true, that the right man is the one who rescues them from singlehood, and that true love gives meaning to their lives. It is no wonder then, that when a man pays a little attention to them, or gives the a bit of physical affection, they throw themselves into the project of making him “the one”.
It doesn’t help that media, and self-help manuals instruct women and men to believe that relationships are hard work. They say that a good relationship must be worked on, and that the right person will change for our benefit. So, they set off on this project to shape and mold a person, who clearly isn’t a good fit, into a well-behaved, committed, puppet. It is believed that if she tries hard enough, a strong woman can make a man good. If he isn’t willing to cooperate, then surely she is not doing something right.
Not only do they seek to improve, or change the man, they falsely believe that he should be willing to be better if he truly loves them. When a healthy human being refuses to change for their benefit, or give them the promise of eternal commitment, they don’t take that as a sign that they are in a wrong situation. Instead, they try to adjust themselves to better fit into the lifestyle of that person, hoping eventually he will change.
If a relationship feels like suffocation for either person, that’s evidence that you’re not with someone who’s compatible with you. Good relationships are effortless, and both people feel they are in sync. You don’t count how many texts or calls you receive in a day, nor what the appropriate response time is. You don’t feel like you’re walking on eggshells, worrying that you might screw up. You feel no pressure to make it work. You aren’t afraid to lose them. In fact, you don’t worry about the possibly of losing them, because you don’t need to own them at all. So many people think that they have to have ownership papers to feel like they have true love.
Love is not meant to be a painful struggle. Sure, popular music and drama make us believe we are supposed to fight for it. Thus, so many people think that unless you are fighting for it, you don’t believe in it.
But what exactly are you fighting for? Are you pushing a person who wants freedom into being committed to you? Are you prodding a person who isn’t very interested, willing, or enthusiastic into being someone who is? Are you demanding better treatment from someone who doesn’t think you are worth the effort? Stop and think for a second, what that effort is costing you, and what you are likely to earn in return. If it pays off, you only get a person you successfully beat into submission. Is that now an enjoyable relationship? While you may temporarily be satisfied, that other person is now suffocating, and plotting their escape.
If you find yourself continuously lacking the type of relationship you desire, and if you truly are an adult, then you must take full accountability for who you are. Do people refuse to make a commitment to you? Do people refuse to change or be better for your benefit? Are they not paying enough attention to you, nor making enough of an effort for you? That’s not because there is something wrong with them, that is because of you. Ouch.
Chances are high that you have a need that you think the other person could satisfy. Chances are that you are incomplete, and seek satisfaction from a potential lover. As soon as they sense your need, and it screams louder than a starving hyena, lovers run away.
So many people are convinced they have full lives, are fiercely independent, and whole, only to collapse at the feet of any person who refuses to satisfy their deep hunger for a relationship. Is that you?
The simple fact is that if you are lonely, looking for a person who will be eternally loyal to you, and starving for a meaningful relationship, then you are very much in need.
People who are whole are never lonely, their lives are full of things to do, and places to be. Those who demand perpetual loyalty of others, are the ones who fear losing the most. And people who hunger for a “meaningful” relationship, are looking for a relationship to give them meaning. Is that you?
Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see”. Want a meaningful relationship? Your life must have meaning first. Want a healthy person to join your path? You must be healthy first, and actually have a path of your own. Want someone to stick around for a while? Don’t pester them into staying. Nothing makes healthy people run faster than a partner who needs to mold, change, control, or be something that they shouldn’t have to be.
So what does true love feel like? Have you ever met a person with whom you have chemistry and are always in sync? A good match is absolutely effortless. You know you are well matched when the relationship is easy, free, and without expectation. People who truly accept each other, have no need to change, or slightly tweak one another. Lovers who are compatible, make no demands, feel no fear, demand no loyalty. They give each other space, encourage each other to thrive, allow each other to grow, even when growth means they must seek happiness with someone else.
Pure love is not about possession. There is no title to be earned. It does not matter if that person is a friend, a boyfriend, a lover, a potential spouse. What you stand to gain from the relationship is not measured at all. If you truly and honestly love someone, how can it matter if that person will sacrifice his freedom for you?
You’ve heard the saying: If you love someone, set them free. Please don’t wait in trepidation to see if they return.
For so many of us who have left relationships, love felt like a trap. It felt like an obligation, to please the other person, be responsible for their well-being, make a promise we won’t hurt them. But those people will hurt as soon as they are missing something they need. I refuse to be that missing piece in their life. If you fill a void for someone, you can never leave, for if you do, they will be broken. I don’t want to be someone’s life, I don’t want to give meaning to a person who has none. It sounds harsh, but it is true.
I feel best in the moment. That moment when the sun sets, and we find ourselves alone with a bottle of wine and a warm blanket. When a good song plays on the radio, and two people start to dance for no reason. A wild orgasm is even more amazing, when it is truly free from the possibility of entrapment. To truly love someone, I have to be free. I live in the now, not the possibility of a future with someone.
If freedom is not for you, then ask yourself what it is that you need? It is okay to consider other options. Some need security and stability, others need a lifetime commitment, some need a marriage contract, and it is healthy to want those things. But if you want love, that pure love that most people dream of, then know that it has nothing to do with obligation, effort, or loyalty. True love is always free.
Be honest, are you in love, or are you just hungry?