3 Things That Make Love Real
They're not what you think.
Posted Sep 03, 2020
"Falling in love and having a relationship are two different things."
- Susan Piver
Many believe the harder you fall, the more real the love is. And if the love is real, then it must be healthy and sustainable.
First, let's examine what "real" really means. In our commercialized world where love comes chocolate-coated with rings and roses, real means it was meant to be. Real means happily ever after. Real means a seamless union. Real means when you know, you know. Right? Not unless you're seventeen. None of these are real. They are movies and advertisements we bought into at a very young age.
The truth is "real" doesn't happen until you have started to build a relationship. The contrast is real. The triggers are real. The drift is real. That's why relationships are so hard. Taking the real and building something with it instead of hiding or running from it requires lots of work. Inner work. An honest look at self and some ownership. This is what creates the legs of a relationship.
Let's examine what's real.
Not just different tastes in food, books, and music. I'm not talking about if you're a vegan and your boyfriend can't go a meal without eating meat. Or if you have a sugar tooth and your girlfriend only likes salty treats. I'm talking about your wiring, your love languages, your attachment style, your definition of love, and the way you process things.
We are all wired differently due to our stories. The way we were brought up and the experiences we had shape us. They create our beliefs, our patterns, and our reactions. This impacts the relationship directly. It makes love real.
We all give and receive love differently. Your love language may be words of affirmation and physical touch like mine and your partner's may be acts of service and quality time. And if you guys don't understand how each of you express love, people can start to feel unloved. We assume the way we love is universal. But the truth is, we all speak love differently. This impacts the relationship directly. It makes love real.
Since we were all raised differently, the way we attach to others is different. And our reactions to our intimate love attachments directly impact the day to day of our relationship. If you have an avoidant attachment style, you may tend to run or hide. If you have an anxious attachment style, you may fear being left and seek constant confirmation. This is a real thing. It directly impacts the relationship. It makes love real.
No one enters adulthood unscarred. This means we all have police tape around certain experiences we have not healed from or resolved. This means we all have triggers, things that bring up old shit and make us react a certain way. When a stranger or acquaintance triggers something in us, we can ignore or move past it. It's temporary, a one time thing. Or far and in between. But when it's coming from inside our house, we can't ignore it. It can become Chinese water torture. We are constantly triggered in our relationship. This directly impacts our relationship. It makes love real.
We all drift. It doesn't matter how great the relationship is. Drift is normal. One's personal life transitions and winters can create drift. Our daily grind can create drift. Raising children can create drift. As someone who has a six-month-old, I can tell you that I will choose sleep over intimacy 8 out of 10 times. Schedules, deadlines, and todos and can get us sidetracked from our partner and we can start to drift.
Then there's social media. Filters, selfies, models doing cartwheels toward a sunset. Half naked people with perfect bodies posting their workouts. Fantasies in exotic locations. Even if we know these images are angled, altered, and maybe even fabricated, it still shoots dopamine into our brains. It still causes us to compare it with our own lives. To escape. To fantasize. To imagine. To wish. To want. Do this enough and you'll turn back and be shocked at how far you've drifted from your home — girlfriend/wife and kids, whatever your home looks like.
The truth is you can fall in love with someone every day if you allowed yourself to. We are human and humans are attracted to each other, on many different levels. That is normal and instinctual. But going back to the Piver's quote, "Falling in love and having a relationship are two different things."
Drift is normal. It's what makes relationships real. Even if you're not going through a life transition or winter and you're not impacted by advertising and social media and you never notice anyone attractive in real life, no relationship is perfect. So there will be some kind of drift when there's turbulence in your relationship, even if it's for a day. This doesn't mean something's wrong with you or the relationship. It just means your love is real.
Yes, we drift. But we also come back. And this is what love is. Love is about the return, coming back daily to your partner. This is what building a relationship looks like. Coming back by deciding to accept and appreciate the contrast, explore triggers, examine where they come from and how they impact the relationship. And take ownership of what we need to own. This may start the process of resolving and healing parts of our story. So that we can give ourselves a new love experience.
Real isn't just about the feel-goods. Real is all that comes from the collision of two people and their unhealed stories. What we do with this will determine if we continue to build and strengthen the relationship, our own relationship with self as well, or if we slowly destroy both.