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True Love Or Fake Love : Part II

Discover that love keeps no records of wrong, although it does have healthy boundaries. Healthy love is about setting boundaries to protect your relationships and yourself––if not you looking out for yourself first, then who? It is a bit of a cliché that caring for yourself first means that you can care for others too but it’s stated so often precisely because it’s true. Healthy love begins with self love (not self absorption) and radiates from believing in yourself out to believing in others. Healthy love also learns to forgive and move forward, in the realization that harboring resentment is like holding a hot coal of anger––only you get burned. Forgiveness is a big part of loving others, as well as making it clear to people where your limits lay when it comes to putting up with disrespectful behavior directed at you––you simply won’t. It’s not wrong or unloving to stand up to disrespect; it’s a healthy sign of self-respect and setting boundaries for others to learn from.

Use love to sidestep perfectionism. Love is often referred to as being “blind”. This adage exists because it connotes acceptance of a person in spite of imperfections. Love is a realization that no one is perfect, not even the perfectionists, and when you love someone truly, you accept that person wholly, including his or her flaws and shortcomings. Love motivates you to look for the good in a person and to expend more of your energies on encouraging forth the best from them. In accepting inadequacies and recognizing limitations as being part of the entire package, you stop judging a person for these things and work on helping the person’s better qualities instead. When you expect too much and your expectations aren’t met, you feel disappointed; you avoid such disappointments by being resilient and flexible enough with your loved ones simply because they are as human as you.

Give love credit for being smart. Love might be blind but it’s not corrupt or stupid. Being able to discern what is right and what is wrong is innate; your conscience tells you when you have and haven’t done something right or for the right reasons. Love helps you to realize the Golden Rule that runs through many religions and secular traditions, namely “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”. It’s a basic fact that you model better behavior by being better behaved, you model loving behavior by being loving. Set out to spread loving behavior by demonstrating it in all that you do and give love the credit for being a smart approach to living your life. For some people this includes a faith-based approach to life, while for others it’s about being a good human based in sound morals; either way, love is deeply entwined with doing the right thing by others, whether the other person is a lover, a coworker, a stranger or a neighbor.

Realize that love always protects. When you love someone, you open your heart and start to care and want to remain connected. Anything that concerns the other person will concern you too, even if it’s just about being a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board to bounce ideas off. The littlest pain and struggle troubles you because you have loved, yet equally you know that love is strong enough to help and to protect the other person through simply being there for him or her. Love makes you protective without being invasive or controlling––you want to help when you can, reach out when it’s needed and help guide to prevent unwanted outcomes for those still learning at any stage in life. Love causes you to get up at 3am in the morning to collect your exhausted partying teens instead of letting them travel home alone; love causes you to leave work earlier because your spouse sounded down over the phone that afternoon, even though your work pile is enormous; love causes you to tell the local school that you’ve seen cars making dangerous turning maneuvers where children are crossing the road because you don’t want to see children hurt; love causes you to send letters to your local representative complaining about damage to the local environment because you don’t want your community to be hurt. Love brings out the protective self in you.

Love even though you may lose. Love never fails, even when it might feel like it has. Break ups can really hurt us, whether it’s a romantic, workplace, business, friendship or other breakup, the sting is always harsh. Yet, love is worth the effort, even in those times when loss hurts you. For, as Alfred Lord Tennyson put it Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Never knowing love would be a terrible fate indeed. Love is therefore also about experience and not shutting yourself off from the world for fear of loss. By opening yourself up to the amazing possibilities of love, you open yourself up to all the beauty and wonder of the world too. Sometimes it won’t work but on the law of averages, you’ll experience more love than less, especially if you don’t tie down your notion of love to simple romantic love but embrace love as a way of being and thinking in all walks of your life. So let love in, and be ruthless in restoring love to your life on those few occasions when it doesn’t get reciprocated because ultimately, it will be for those who keep on trying.

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