Licensed Mental Health Counselor
With Valentine’s Day coming up and heart garlands decorating the office, I can’t help but reflect on love and relationships. I thought it could be fun to change things up and do a mini survey asking the people closest to me about love, not specifically romantic love, but love for another at the broadest sense.
I made sure to keep the question open enough that anyone can answer regardless of the nature of the relationship (romantic, sibling, best friend) or their current relationship status. Love is a primary emotion, a basic and universal emotion that we all experience in some form or another. I was curious how the people I talk to everyday might reflect a bit upon this as we circle around Valentine’s Day. It’s not often that we take a step back and ask our loved ones about the challenges and dialectic in loving somebody. Dialectic is when two opposing things are true at once, such as it’s hard to love somebody but it’s also one of the most rewarding parts of the human experience.
I made sure to keep my highly unscientific, sent by text message, informal survey as accurate as I could by including both men and women ranging from 20-60 years old in my “sample size.”
1. What’s the hardest part about loving someone?
2. What’s your favorite part about loving someone?
The Hardest Part
Little by little the responses trickled in. In the meantime, I took them in and made some interesting connections. The most apparent theme that stood out was the connection I noticed between love and fear coming up for many. “The fear they may not love you back or fall out of love” or even more scary “knowing they could die”.
Another theme that jumped out was empathy for the one you love. In particular this one response stood out: “I think the hardest part about loving someone else is that you stress, worry, and suffer when they are struggling. When you love someone you basically feel what they are feeling. On the flipside when they are happy, so are you.” Loving ain’t easy. It can be trying when things aren’t as you’d like for those you care the most about: “Accepting that they won’t be who you want them to be.”
The Best Part
“My favorite part about loving someone else is to be able to share life moments and experiences, good and bad ones. When people become older they realize that life is about loving and sharing, these are the only things that we take with us when we pass,” to me, this response perfectly summarizes how you can’t fully separate the hard part from the best parts; that’s just the way that love is.
But love, in its many physical representations that are all around us as we get closer to Valentine’s Day – tiny little angels with bows and arrows, cards and heart candies and chocolates and candle lit dinners, is something to celebrate. “Spending time with the one you love,” was a response I received, that might be a casual conversation catching up with an old friend who you love or a special evening out with a romantic partner for Valentine’s Day.
I took away some big themes on loving and being loved:
“Being able to share your life and experiences with someone else.”
“Feeling part of the bigger self. We are a community. You win and I win. It allows a broader perspective on things.”
“Sharing and creating memories.”
These are things we know, of course, but it’s in the spirit of the day of love that we can take the opportunity to step back and think a bit about how good, and yes, how challenging, it can be to love.
Next time that you see a little heart wreath hanging or a bowl of candies set out as we countdown to Valentine’s Day, take it as a moment to reflect on the community that is built around you by those you love and those who love you.
OVER TO YOU:
What’s the hardest part about loving someone?
What’s your favorite part about loving someone?
Leave your comments here.