Relationships

Love is Enough

For years I bought into a fallacious ideology. I repeated it to myself day in, day out, telling myself it was the only explanation for the beautiful stories that turned sour. I preached it from the rooftops and did not miss an opportunity to enlighten everyone I came across. I did not want them to walk around with flowery thoughts of love, thinking it was all that they needed to feel seen and known, so I told them, with the greatest passion I could muster, that love is not enough. I argued it could never be enough, and when people seemed to be optimistic, I gave them all the reasons why it could never be enough.

It has been years and through no direct effort of my own, I am coming to an enlightening – an enlightening to the sufficiency of love; an awakening to how enough love is. So many times, we say love is not enough because in our human-limited minds and due to our selfish nature, we cannot fathom the idea that something as simple-sounding as love is everything. We assume love is about the butterflies in the tummy, and that when those butterflies fail to flutter, it means love has left the room. But what we fail to understand is the depth to which genuine love runs – how it fills every encounter with respect; how it empowers and releases us to be greater than we ever thought possible; how it searches deep within to reveal joyful parts of ourselves that we did not even know existed; how it takes us from a selfish stance to a position where we desire to please the one we love, not with the aim of convincing them to love us back, but with the desire to see them smile.

I have spent a lot of time in November reflecting on my beliefs and the ideologies I peddle out, and this one is one that really stuck out for me. We often say love is not enough in two situations: 1.) When love is not mutual and we are too afraid to accept this fact and 2.) when love is not genuine and to make up for this, we try to split it into many independent parts.

When love is not mutual, it hurts, and because it hurts, we say it is not enough to build anything substantial. When love is not genuine, we split it. We say love is not enough. We claim it needs respect, support and a partner who puts in the effort as accessories. But how are these things independent of love. If respect, support and effort are absent from love, is it really love? If our relationship decisions are from a selfish standpoint, to satisfy our selfish desires, can we really say it’s love?

Love is all-encompassing. It is gentle and kind even in the most heated moments. It does not give up. It sees the flaws but chooses to focus on the flawless parts. It makes us grow. It makes us feels feel seen and known. It brings us joy. Yes, even in love we are not always happy, but deep within the cloud of unhappiness, we know there is joy, genuine admiration, support, respect, and peace. Love feels like home. It’s where we give and give, but never feel like we are losing anything, because just as much as we give, we are given in return.

I have come to the conclusion that love is enough because it has everything we deeply yearn for.

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Love Is Not About Giving

 When we think of the word ‘love’, we often think of selfless acts of giving and an unconditional desire to satisfy the needs of others, sometimes at our own detriment.

I have very often heard of people declare and swear by the love that gives unconditionally, the love that cares without any expectation, the love that makes hearts soar even though they are not receiving. To be able to give unconditionally and endlessly, is considered to be true love- a kind of noble quest many people embark on, while some find themselves psychologically orientated towards this kind of love- the self-sacrificial kind of love that makes us feel we are paying our dues to the world.

I can’t help but wonder…if this is the ideal kind of love, if this is the true love, the real love people so often speak about with dreamy eyes, why then do people get hurt by it? Why do people end up broken and distraught after loving so unconditionally? Why do they feel betrayed? I mean, if you have zero expectations, you ought to have zero disappointments right? Here’s the bitter truth we all need to understand: Love is not just about giving. It is about receiving.

We cannot claim to have experienced love when we do not receive any love ourselves. That in its own right is a form of self-robbery.

Many of us, especially women, like Chimamanda Adichie rightly pointed out in her speech at Wellesley college, are taught to love in a scarificial manner. We are only admired for our love when it is a form of sacrifice on our part. Women who marry men below their pay grade are praised for truly loving their husbands, while their colleagues who marry men who are well-to-do are immediately tagged as gold diggers, irrespective of the genuine love they have for their husbands. We are taught and expected to only give, but to receive love is a crime to society. The fact is that we cannot claim to have experienced love when we do not recieve any love. That in its own right is a form of self-robbery.

We get hurt because we give and give until we are empty. We go out on a limb for others at our own detriment in a bid to show them love, but we are really doing is telling others that we can come second while they come first, yet we get surprised when we are treated accordingly. We give until our reserves have been used up, and when we have nothing left to give, we start seeking to receive but by then, it is too late!

Girls are often raised to see love as only giving. Women are praised for their love when that love is an act of giving. But to love is to give and to take. Please love by giving and by taking. Give and be given- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Stop giving all of yourself andf receiving nothing in return; the bible says love your neighbours AS YOURSELVES. In other words, loving yourself first and considering yourself to be number one is the first step to true love. When you love yourself, you will want to be given love (I am yet to meet anyone who does not like gifts). Think of love as an exchange of gifts between two people at Christmas. You can’t be the only one filling up the stockings or putting boxes under the tree, while the other person simply unwraps, eats, and plays with all the gifts you have given. It is an exchange- you have to receive love!

The ideology that love is all about giving is what blindsides many people in relationships. They find themselves giving so much and receiving nothing in return, and they are falsely led to believe that the love they are giving is sufficient to carry them and their beloved through difficult times. Sadly, this is hardly ever the case. The love you are not receiving from your beloved is being given to someone else, or kept for someone else. If you are not being given love, do not be scared to call it quits. Move right along and go to where love is being served. Like Chimamanda said: “Give and be given”.

Love is not a noble quest; it’s not about saving a damsel in distress, it is not a battle for chivalry. Love is not about paying your dues to the world, it is not a charity project. It should not be a sacrifice. Love is food for the soul, and every soul must be fed. Do not neglect your soul by giving without receiving. True love is not just about giving, it’s about receiving- a two-way channel that ensures both ends are well-nourished.

So the question is: do you have love?XOXO