Ana Nogales, Ph.D.

Family Secrets


Smart Love

Love allows us to explore, to dream and to create a better world.

Posted Feb 14, 2019

© Can Stock Photo / Anna_Om
Source: © Can Stock Photo / Anna_Om

How wonderful it is to be in love! It’s a state of elation, where everything is marvelous and where the colors of life are just that much brighter. It can be described as a state of madness, since we don’t behave “normally”. Extraordinarily, we are doing things in the name of love that we never would have thought possible. Love allows us to survive the challenges of life, the bitterness of defeat and the uncertainty of our destiny.

From the day we are born, love is necessary to survive; we depend on the care of a mother or her equivalent. As children, we yearn for the love and acceptance of our parents. As adolescents, we imagine what it’s like to be in love and we fall in love with the idea of love. As adults, we need love to move forward with whatever it is we choose to do. When we have children, love expands to another dimension and becomes totally and utterly unconditional. Love continues to project itself in our extended families and in our friends. Love allows us to explore, to dream and to create a better world.

But, after the first steps are taken in a relationship, love is not always followed by a happy ending. When passion becomes entangled with suffering, insecurity, egoism, and vanity, then love becomes toxic. Toxic love can kill in many ways, whether it be with words, gestures or violence. This is where love becomes a sickness.  Instead of being that lovely, initial encounter between two people, it becomes a conglomeration of emotions, where there’s abuse and a need to control the other, sometimes under the pretext of offering protection. Often, this mechanism is not permitted, but rather acted out unconsciously. It becomes like an emotional cancer that takes over the relationship and destroys what was once beautiful. When this occurs, the person oftentimes loses sight of what it really means to be in love. He/she gets confused in a current of emotions that they believe are love but are really masking sickening needs, protected by excuses that do not justify the chain of emotions. What was once love becomes a relationship enforced by fear, intimidation, accusations, lies, deceit and/or abuse.

But, since life is a learning process, we can grow to realize when a relationship is not for us. If we learn from even the most difficult moments, then, nothing has been in vain. On the other hand, staying in a miserable relationship waiting for things to change without doing anything about it will surely send you down a path of disappointment and heartache.

The other person may not necessarily harbor bad intentions, but sometimes, they are simply not appropriate for us. This also does not mean the relationship has to end. It’s important to keep in mind that a healthy relationship allows one to grow and not be stifled. It facilitates growth but does not criticize or condemn. When a relationship takes a wrong turn, it’s time to confront it and redirect it. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.