July 22, 2011 by Kristen
Can two people disagree about what love is and stay together?
I have encountered people in dating relationships, friendships, acquaintances–all with varying definitions on what it means to love someone. In discussions, certain groups of people care little for my stance on love as a choice. They think I’m unromantic, deny chemistry, and make love seem—well, difficult and boring. Though a girl’s gotta have that chemistry, I stand by my beliefs. I once loved someone deeply, and he loved me back–though I was later forced to confront the question, “Was what we had really love?”
“I just don’t feel it anymore,” he said. Uhm, okay? What could I do about that? I certainly wasn’t going to give him the month or so he requested to “take a break” and see if those feelings changed. Adios–Game over, thanks for playing! Insert the anthem of rejected love here: “I can’t make you love me if you don’t. You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t.” Sing it Bonnie Raitt! (Though I preferred dancing out my feelings to some India Arie, Heart of the Matter…) The end of this relationship forced me to confront what I really thought love was. Painful as losing that relationship was–what I learned about love was worth it.
1. I loved this guy. I think? If my definition of love was “caring deeply, strong affection, attachment to”–then I certainly did. Don’t get me wrong, those elements are vital to any loving relationship, but they don’t define love. Too often, I overlooked the passage of 1 Corinthians 13 as “cliche,” thinking that in my infinite wisdom, I had it down. Love is patient, love is kind, love is blah-blah-blah…
After our breakup, I took a long hard look at the passage and realized that if I used those verses as a “check-list” for love–I failed on multiple accounts. Being attached and caring deeply wasn’t enough to sustain a relationship, because I wasn’t living by the right definition. Neither of us were. Loving Christ first was what I most struggled with personally. And I wonder why the relationship failed? Of course the Lord wasn’t going to allow me to keep pursuing some guy over Him. (I’m thankful He didn’t!)
2. I couldn’t blame this guy for not loving me anymore. For awhile, I was angry because of the time and effort I had invested in the relationship, only to have him lose “that loving feeling.” My brother had a few choice words for him; I won’t pretend I didn’t think a few myself. I was pretty jaded too–how could I ensure that every guy wouldn’t eventually come to the same conclusion? My solution for awhile was to never love again.
Finally it hit me, his definition of love was a feeling. Mine was a choice. The two cannot co-exist. How could I blame him?–he was only acting according to his definition. A feeling may come and go–his went. Besides, we were only dating. That’s the beauty of dating situations, you’re not locked down–you don’t have to make that choice until you commit to marriage.
Which leads me to my original question:
3. Can two people with differing definitions of love stay together? I don’t have a definitive answer because there are exceptions to every rule, but for me personally–it is a resounding no. I cannot judge that a feeling will stay forever. I know it won’t. At 22 years old, I still get “crushes” on guys, and they’re gone in a week. Feelings are fickle. To love someone based on feeling scares me–it removes the very basis of a promise to love someone forever. Love is a choice. A decision. Marriage vows are a promise to love, no matter how you feel on a given day.
For me, real love is loving Christ first and choosing to model your life after Jesus Christ and His sacrificial love. It’s pretty convenient that real love is exemplified through His life. If I am modeling my life and love after Jesus, I’m automatically going to align with the components of 1 Corinthians 13. I won’t be relying on feelings, I’ll be extending grace. I also won’t be looking to the love of another person for completion–I’ve already found that completion in Christ.
It will be a beautiful day when I meet a man with the same definition of love and we choose to love each other for a lifetime. Until then, I’m still working on straightening out my imperfect ways of loving others. I fall so short of the perfect example set for me. I need that grace.