As I have shared in previous articles, I did a ton of dating before I figured out how to break the dysfunctional dating cycle and find a partner that is a fit for me. It was not just about finding that perfect someone, but I had to look at my own dysfunctional patterns and thinking in order to make this happen for me. Being in relationships never came easy for me. It was one of those things in life I struggled with well into my 40′s, but once I figured it out, I became happier than ever.
I can remember those times when being in a relationship, and I knew that it was tragically dysfunctional, but used the reason of loving the other person to stay in the relationship. I spent many hours in the office of an extremely insightful and gifted therapist Michael Traub. He seemed to be the only person who was able to explain things to me in a way that not only made sense but empowered me to discover my own answers and have my “aha” moments.
One of the key things I learned from Michael is that love is just not enough in a relationship. Being in love and loving someone is wonderful however it is simply not enough. How many times have you or your friends complained that their boyfriend or girlfriend is engaging in some rude or inappropriate way, but yet they stay in the relationship because they love the other person? Well, guess what, love is just not enough to sustain a healthy relationship. I learned that in order to create a healthy loving relationship that behavior on the part of both people is crucial.
I spent years in a relationship where my partner would do things that would deeply hurt me and yet I stayed because we loved one another. I absolutely believed that we loved one another, however it was just not enough. We both would try to convince each other that “if you love me you would not do this” and expect the other person to change. It may not be that the other person does not love you, but rather their ability to make a commitment to their own personal growth to have the discipline to make changes in their behavior. My partner’s drinking had nothing to do with his love for me.
I have a friend who was in a relationship with a man. The man kept doing things that would upset my friend. One of the things he would do is show up extremely late for their dates. This drove her crazy as she felt that this was disrespectful of her time. She made many requests to him to please be on time or at least give her a heads up when he was going to be late. He completely disregarded her requests and although he loved her he continued this behavior. Love had very little to do with him continuing to be late, but lack of empathy and compassion for her had everything to do with it.
It is important for both people to make conscious choices to behave in ways that show respect and kindness for their partner. This is key in making a relationship work. It is just not enough to be in love. Behaving in ways that are kind, loving and respectful are important components in making a relationship work. Behavior has more to do with empathy than love. You can love someone but not have empathy for them and this is what will determine your behavior.