Doesn’t hearing “I love you” sometimes make you want to throw up?
The success of a relationship is measured by two main attributes: love and loyalty. But how many times have you heard, “I love you!” or “I will always be there for you!” before finding yourself betrayed and humiliated by a partner to whom you had given all your trust and who had unequivocally sworn to be loyal to you? Love and loyalty are two notions that way too many people use and abuse. And that certainly explains why there are so many horrendous relationships out there. I believe that it is now time to question their value.
What do people commonly say about love and loyalty? If you want to get an idea, simply go to the movies, and you will see how society in its ensemble defines them. Truthfully, after having heard, “I love you. You’re my only reason to stay alive.” or “I will do anything to deserve your love.” how many times have tears dropped down your cheeks? Perhaps do you think that no one can top such heights in term of romance and profoundness? Do you wish that you lover had the ability to articulate his feelings just like Robert Redford did in “The Way We Were,” so he can prove how deeply attached he is to you? Are love and loyalty the foundations on which lie all your relationships? If they carry this type of energy, you may be in deep trouble.
::: Can “love” be one of the biggest hypocrisies ever?
“I love you.” What went through your mind the very first time a boyfriend or a girlfriend said those words to you? Dubitatively, did you think, “That’s interesting. He’s saying that he loves me!”? Or did it create the idea that you were for a fact involved in a serious, exclusive and meaningful relationship that was now evolving at a much greater speed? Maybe, did you instantly construct expectations? Did you project yourself in the future, by assuming that he would love you unconditionally forever? Did you reach right away the conclusion that he would always be there for you, no matter what? Did you instantaneously think that you had finally achieved “it”—that you were presently in a solid and therefore successful relationship? Did you start to believe that you had become the most important person in his life? To hear “I love you” instigates loads of assumptions. But how many ended up being true? How many nights did you spend crying, asking yourself how you could have been so stupid and so naïve? Or are you still in denial and wasting all your energy persisting to view him as your one and only love?
There are individuals who spend their entire lives looking for a partner who is going to love them unconditionally. And as soon as they have found him, life is all about getting constant confirmation that love is indeed unconditional. In other words, “I love you” is not sufficient anymore. The unconditionality that supposedly defines the love that itself defines the relationship is all that matters. It is the proof that supersedes everything else. Anything less is out of question. But what is unconditional love, anyway? Does it signify that whatever happens, the love that both partners have for each other can never budge? Have you ever stopped living up to your spouse’s expectations? If that is the case, what suddenly happened to the unconditionality of this love that was defining your marriage? Did it disappear? Did the love abruptly become conditional? And were you even aware of the existence of an expectation?
A few years ago, Grace and I were invited to the wedding of a former colleague of mine, Bradley. Standing at the altar before the priest, he promised to unconditionally love his wife Monica for the rest of his life. Yet, four years later, he divorced her. It occurred immediately after her parents had been forced to sell most of their assets to repay large debts that they had incurred. Bradley realized that Monica would not inherit anything, including the cabin at Lake Tahoe that he had always expected to own one day. Monica had not done anything; she had not changed her behavior in any way. But because of her parents’ losses, she was no longer able to fulfill his unspoken expectations. Bradley’s unconditional love was a fraud. Isn’t unconditional love the biggest hoax you have ever heard of? People are lured by the certainty that they are loved unconditionally. Then suddenly, the love is over. What happened? The love ended because the unspoken expectations and assumptions on which the love was based were not met.
::: Is “loyalty” another condition to love?
Very much like love, loyalty sounds like a wonderful concept but just in theory, because it is also widely misused to abuse people. When an individual requires from you to be loyal as a way of honoring the love or the appreciation that he or she has for you, what does it really entail? Is it an invitation to be aware, so you can look for yourself at this person’s actions and see whether they work for you? Or does it mean that you have to blindfold yourself and go along with anything that he or she does and wants, regardless of how that may affect you? In most families, loyalty forces people to blindfold themselves. I once met Christopher, who got into a dispute with a few of his wife’s siblings regarding business issues, and who was ultimately sued by them. Christopher expected loyalty from his wife’s other siblings who were not a part of the lawsuit; however, they chose not to side with anyone. Today, his wife is the one who pays the price. She barely sees her brothers and sisters anymore out of “loyalty” to her husband. Loyalty has become a condition to their love.
Loyalty is not a choice. It is a decision that people make. And like most decisions, it is often times firm and final. There is no way back. There is no changing one’s mind. In this society, those who dare to change their mind are judged heavily. They are chastised. They are considered as unstable, lacking of ambition and weak. Who would want to be labeled as such, right? So to avoid the judgments of others, the only issue is to stick to a decision at all costs, even if it carries dreadful consequences. And this is what loyalty is all about. It is the obligation to stick by someone’s choices, no matter what. It means to be faithful to a person to whom fidelity is due. When you are involved in a relationship, per this society your love is due to your partner. You owe him fidelity. Therefore, you must be loyal to him at all times. If you dare thinking for yourself and deviating from your partner’s viewpoints and agendas, you betray the sacrosanct bond that this society has established. The problem is that such bond is founded on the need to systematically control the one who is loyal. You are then punished with an extreme severity. But isn’t embracing the punishment worth the preservation of your integrity?
::: Is there an alternative to love?
Have you decided that love is stronger than adversity? Do you think that it is really true? Have you decided that since he loves you, he will definitely change for the better? Well, has he started yet? Have you considered the possibility that love, as it is defined in our society, is loaded with conditions that are highly destructive and so counter-productive? This love does not overcome anything. It may look as though it is about being together, but this love solely creates cleavages and divisions among people. It has nothing to do with harmony, expansion, consciousness, or being totally present with oneself and the other person. It is based on series of unspoken assumptions and expectations that are intended to manipulate and control the other person. This is unfortunately the essence of a great majority of relationships in existence.
If this love is a hoax, is there another alternative? There is always another alternative, as long as you choose to see that it exists and that you do not look for it outside of yourself. You are free to love your own way. You are totally empowered to define “love” as you wish, so it satisfies you and it also honors all those men and women with whom you elect to share it. You do not have to comply with the rules and dogmas that society has established, especially if they do not work for you. Your love does not have to carry any conditions. And the best way to determine whether your love carries any conditions is to think of an uncomfortable event that occurred in the past. Think of an ex-partner who has hurt you. Has this episode made you stronger today? If not, could it have the potential to make you stronger today? Could you still have appreciation today for this person you loved yesterday? Certainly! When you love without judging, you are thankful for anything that anyone has brought in your life. This is how you learn from your past mistakes and continue to grow. But this is only possible if you truly love yourself without conditions, which means that you never judge what you are and you never judge your choices.
Most people will do anything they can, so they can control, abuse and manipulate others. And “love” is a tool of choice among many others. If you are confronted to a situation where love is used against you, instead of being utilized as an instrument of expansion and bliss, will you have the courage to step up to the plate and end such a destructive dynamic? If you believe that “love is blind,” it is a major issue. Have you ever dishonored yourself, by thinking that since someone loved you, whatever hurtful action he or she took did not matter? Have you decided that love was stronger than someone else’s cruelty or meanness? Did you excuse their actions by deciding that they did not mean it in the first place? What unkind behavior have you excused based on the pretense that the other person loved you?