Your Definition of Love Determines How You Experience It
Love is an action, not an affirmation
“You’ll never find anyone that loves you more than me,” my high school boyfriend told me as I broke up with him. This was after I caught him stealing my Guns N’ Roses concert tickets and a gold nugget ring my mom had given me, along with other teenage valuables. Of course, I use the term “caught” lightly. I knew he stole them. He actually wore the ring in front of me — I just never confronted him. I didn’t want to rock the boat. But when I caught him cheating on me, that infraction was too big to overlook. The relationship was over. Even if no one loved me as much as he did, which seemed like a big risk back then, so be it.
Interestingly, this wasn’t the last time I would hear those words. As my ex-husband and I were separating, he repeated them verbatim: “You’ll never find anyone that loves you more than me.” He also added, “I’ll love you even when you’re old — other men won’t.” I guess he was appealing to my vanity. Since it seemed like I had spent the last 10 years walking on eggshells, pleading for him to get his career in order, and trying to diffuse angry outbursts, not finding anyone that loved me “more” was a risk I was again willing to take.
It’s not that those words didn’t have any impact — they did. I stayed in both relationships well after noticing a discrepancy between the words “I love you” and their accompanying actions. Hearing that I was loved was such a relief that it was easy to overlook the behaviors that left me feeling otherwise. Hearing those words was my top priority. These men may have even believed they loved me. But we were working with faulty definitions.
M. Scott Peck, a best-selling author and psychiatrist, defines love this way: “Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action… We do not have to love. We choose to love.”
Truthfully, this wasn’t the definition I was working off of either. In my mind, love was a feeling you had for someone that made them so all-important that if you didn’t have that person as a partner, life would be unbearable. Love…