First of all, my husband I are totally in love with one another, and I don’t want to give you an otherwise mistaken impression. We are known as the couple who actually like one another as well.
I’m still just as attracted to him as the day we met. I still notice his cute smile, those olive-green & brown eyes, and the way he humbly shies away from my flirting. I do little things to let him know he still has my attention.
I remind him often that he is perfect for me. When he does nerdy things and thinks it’s funny, I laugh to be kind, so that he’s not laughing alone. When he messes up and makes a mistake, I forgive him because…
…that’s what love is.
I can tell you what love is the second I see it. His love for me is obvious in the things he does and says. He is patient and kind, most of the time. I can see love in his plans for our future, and in the little ways he makes sure my day runs smoothly. I can see his love when he helps with chores around the house, or when he makes sure my car is well maintained. It is in those moments I realize…
…that’s what love is.
Love is easy to spot. But, what about what love isn’t? Ladies, how can we spot that? Women are known for turning their heads and ignoring obvious red flags in a relationship, and I’ve been guilty of that as well.
Due to my husband and I both having had previous relationships that ended in divorce, we both have had trust issues, at times. It’s natural for people to have trust issues who’ve been hurt before because although love is easy to spot, realizing what love isn’t is sometimes the hard part.
I mean, most of us wouldn’t have been divorced the first time if our love game hadn’t faltered, right? You don’t typically divorce from loving one another too much. Most divorces happen because somewhere along the way, what love isn’t, came into play.
Let me be clear that having someone who is “perfect for you,” will never mean they are “perfect.” There will always be issues that have to be dealt with in any marriage. So, while I may praise this man of mine for being great, let me tell you he isn’t always great.
Due to anxiety and/or fear, my husband has some control issues (as many men do). He thinks a house should be run a certain way (his way). I think a house should be run on mutual decisions. Because he is the step father, and not my children’s biologic father, we have had some issues concerning what his boundaries should be in their lives.
Having previously been married to a man who was very controlling, I tend to fight that kind of behavior like when a bull when sees red! My number one rule is you don’t bully my kids and you definitely don’t bully me. Well, be that as it may, a man who sees himself as “ruler of the house” will have issues with a woman who refuses to allow him to be in charge all the time.
I allow it when he’s right. However, when he’s wrong, I stand up for what I believe in. For example, when my oldest son moved out last year, my husband had trouble “letting go” and allowing my son to make the transition. My husband’s deep internal need to be in charge tried to override my son’s ability to run his own life. Mama bird wasn’t happy about that.
Due to my husband’s inability to “let go,” I felt I had no choice but to help my son move out so that he could have some freedom; even though I knew he wasn’t completely ready for the transition.
The momma bird had to make the change happen without the daddy bird being on board. That’s hard on a family. Step dad fought tooth and nail to remain in control even after my son moved out; putting me in the middle of a battle.
That’s what love isn’t.
Love isn’t controlling. I can now spot “controlling” a mile away and it is one of my biggest turn offs. Control issues will take a family’s peace; especially when there’s a bullheaded mom like myself trying to make sure the past isn’t repeated in her marriage.
The controlling side of step dad would’ve kept our baby bird from flying. I couldn’t have that. A grown child has the right to make their own decisions and go their own way, even if the parents don’t agree with their choices.
To sum it up, my husband and I are totally in love, but when I see unloving behavior such as he displayed when my son moved out, my heart throws up a red flag.
However, I knew he loved me about a month after we started dating; as it was obvious. Nothing has changed about that. Even when negative things happen, I still know he loves me.
I’m throwing our dirty laundry out only to make a point. My point is, someone can love you and have unloving behavior at the same time. Everyone is human and everyone has flaws, no matter how great that person seems to be in the beginning of a relationship.
We shouldn’t be quick to give up on a relationship just because the other person is flawed. The truth is, we are ALL flawed to some degree.
When you begin to see negative behavior because of your partners imperfections, you have to ask yourself if they are worth the battle of trying to work through those issues. It is at a time like that when you have to make a decision to either continue to love this person, or allow their negative behavior to come between you.
You don’t have to allow another person’s behavior to control who you are, and it is possible to make the relationship work despite their negative behavior if you don’t give up. But only if that person does truly love you and wants to make it work as well.
You could be the kind of person who sticks your head in the sand and ignores their imperfections, but this will only bring you pain in the end. Ignorance isn’t a solution to any problem. You should definitely stand up for what you believe in, but you can do it in a loving way.
If you are not married and are just dating, I want you to realize it is also a possibility that someone who demonstrates unloving behavior may NOT love you; as hurtful as that may sound. It is hard to face, but sometimes a relationship is one-sided.
There may come a time when you realize you are the only one doing all the work in the relationship. You call them. You go to see them. You make plans for the future. Maybe the guy never even proposed and you are talking about getting married. You push moving in together. You get them gifts, but they give you very little. You cook for them, maybe even clean for them, and they only take sex from you and spend time with you because you hang around.
That’s what love isn’t.
You loving another person isn’t enough. They must love you also. One-sided love will not work out in the end. You are wasting your time.
For some reason, it is harder for some people to discern whether or not someone loves them, but love is supposed to be “give and take;” not just give. If you are dating someone who only takes, it is likely you are dating a loser. And, trust me, losers never change. THEY DO NOT GET BETTER IN TIME. If anything, they get worse.
How Will I Know?
The way to discern whether or not someone loves you is to look at the big picture and see if you are the one initiating or continuing the relationship. Hey, I’ve been in that position, so no judgment here. But when I realized what I was doing, I ended it. And, you should too (if you’re dating).
Assess your situation. Ask yourself some questions to see if your partner displays love in their behavior, on a continual basis. A person who loves you will prove their love in the way they treat you.
You need to be sure that you are not mistaking negative behavior for love. It’s easy to mistake someone wanting to spend all of their time with you for love, when in reality, it is controlling behavior. People should have time apart. Even couples need to have their alone time, jobs, and lives outside the relationship.
I want to remind you that LOVE IS AN ACTION, not a word. Love is also a choice. Your partner can choose to love you, but at any point they can also choose to stop loving you. People don’t fall in or out of love, they choose to either do it or not do it.
Or, the situation could be that they never loved you to begin with and were just using you. I can tell you one thing for sure; a relationship doesn’t work without love on both sides of the equation.
The best way to discern whether or not an action is being done in love is to ask yourself if you would treat them the way they are treating you? You also need to ask if their behavior hurts you? Does it make you experience negative feelings? Does it make you feel burdened? Love will never make you feel negative feelings.
The way we perfect our love walk is to put ourselves in another person’s shoes and consider their feelings toward our actions or words. On the flip side, we can also step back from another person’s behavior and see what affect it has on our hearts.
Am I being loved or am I being used?
To tell the difference between someone who loves you, and someone who is basically using you, you need to have something called discernment. Discernment is simply the ability to judge well. I didn’t have discernment when I was younger and ended up divorced because of it.
Without discernment you end up in all kinds of predicaments; being used, being abused, or being taken for granted. With discernment, you are able to avoid pitfalls.
Discerning who to date saves you a ton of heartaches in the end because you don’t end up marrying the wrong kind of person.
Despite your religious background, discernment and faith can lead you to a better outcome in your relationships. If your relationship feels negative, pull away from it for a little while until you get a better perspective. Time apart can do wonders for a relationship. There is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself, and if your partner has a problem with this, see it as a red flag.
Discernment will help you to discover true intentions. Does he/she cater to you? This can be a negative or a positive thing. A person in love with you will want to spend a lot of time with you, but will not smother you or demand that you only spend time with them. They will also not expect you to give up your other long-standing relationships for them.
Do they buy you gifts? This can also be positive or negative. I’ve had men shower me with gifts to cover up negative behavior. An excessive amount of gifts could be a red flag. Gifts are good, but not if they are intended to be a distraction. If he doesn’t buy you gifts at all, this is also a red flag as it could be a sign that he isn’t investing himself into you.
Does he/she shower you with attention? Make time for you? Text or leave little love notes or call you to be sure you are safe? Does he/she give you the same “room” they claim to need? Do they try to change you or do they allow you to be who you are?
Do they ask you to do things that are against your morals or good judgment? Do they take you out on dates or expect you to spend all of your time together at home where it’s convenient to get sex from you?
Do they show you off to their friends and family? Do they do what it takes to make peace with your family and be a part of it? Do they pull you away from your family? Do they encourage other relationships or try to hinder them?
Some people will stay with a person long enough to get what they want. Once they stop getting what they want, they move on. In order to see if someone truly loves you, you may have to change the way you play the game by not giving them everything they want. Push against their behavior when it’s negative. Don’t give them sex. Make them respect you in the things you allow.
What love is & what love isn’t:
Love isn’t rude. Love doesn’t seek to pleasure oneself. Love pleasures the other person. It seeks to find ways to make the other person feel good, to be happy, or live a satisfied lifestyle.
Love isn’t selfish. Love looks out for the other person. It seeks to give. It creates an environment that is conducive to peace. Love isn’t paranoid. It trusts. It doesn’t provoke wrong doing, bad morals, or bad habits. Love rejoices when you do well. Love helps you. Love encourages other healthy relationships.
To sum it up, true love never makes you feel bad or have a hard time. When someone is acting out of love, it will be a positive experience. Negative behavior is a sign that a person isn’t loving you, at least in that moment. That is when it’s time to take a stand, pull away, or change what you’ve allowed. Show love in how you respond, but don’t ignore things that need to be dealt with.
The greatest thing about love is that it never fails. True love will make a relationship work, on both sides. Love is worth the wait. Don’t settle for any less.