I like to think of myself as a generally loving person. I love my fish, and I can’t help but look at him and be thankful for his role in my life. I also recognize that I don’t spend enough love on the people around me and I think I’d like to change that. Tiny Buddha has some great advice here:
Love because you’re grateful for the things someone has done for you. Love because someone needs you, needs a friend to lean on during their struggles. Love even when it is difficult, even when your mind tells you that you shouldn’t. Love by looking beyond people’s faults, struggles, and whatever pain and hardships that life may bring.
I really enjoyed this. It made me wonder why are we so willing to embrace loving experiences, events and things, but not people? Why is it that people can take months or years to develop love for? Is it the complexity that people have? Fear that you have to know everything about someone before you can commit to loving them?
It’s easy to like something. In fact that’s one of the first things we say about something or someone we find pleasing. People we are introduced to, people we meet in transit, people who somehow show up. We like these people. But after meeting with them dozens if not more times, is it fair to still say we like them? We’ve invested a notable chunk of time in them, and I’d like to think we all expect them to be investing time for a similar intent.
So, big question time, how do we know when we actually do love someone? It’s obviously a personal definition but I’ll share mine. I know I love someone when I think back on memories we share and I laugh and smile thinking about what we said and did. I know I love someone when they are the first person I want to tell good news to. I know I love someone when I’d rather share a meal with them than eat by myself. I know I love someone when during them time we are together I want to make sure they are having a good time and are comfortable. I know I love someone because I’ve spent time defining my parameters of love.
Maddism # 19: Know your definition of love, and own it.
I know when people change from friends to dear friends. I know when people mean more to me than others. I don’t let time dictate who goes where. Because that rarely works out.
There are times when love will hurt you. It won’t be returned or it will be taken away and it will hurt. Love will expose you in a way you’re probably not comfortable with. I guess that’s where trust comes in. I don’t love people I don’t trust, at least to some degree. You’ve got to trust that the person you love will treasure the part of you that you are offering and not abandon it. That’s how lasting friendships and relationships work.
I’m not saying love isn’t scary, because in fact it is. You’re tipping yourself off balance and hoping the people you are expressing to are willing to accommodate you and throw themselves off balance as well. I try my best not to be afraid of love even when it’s intimidating. But sometimes when you let it happen, it turns out to be the best thing you could have done. What I’m saying is that more often than not, love turns out to be a helpful, wonderful thing you get to share with people rather than a monster that brings you down.
One too many times I waited too long to tell someone I loved them. By the time I expressed it, their patience had worn thin and there was nothing I could do to make up for the time that they waited. They were gone and love stung. It’s all about timing too. As much as it sucks a lot of life it based on timing.
If I’ve said I love you, I’m not always expecting a returned answer of “I love you too”. I like to think I can read people fairly well and do an analysis of their personality. I generally know when someone is going to say I love you or return it if I say so. And even more importantly to me, I know when people won’t say it back but I feel the need to tell them. I believe friendships, relationships, acquaintances, any kind of connections with other people, are progressions. So know where your checkpoints are.