Pain is not love; it is pain
When did love become pain? I have had personal experience of Dynasty levels of drama in relationships. It is true to say that many of us mistake “suffering” in our relationships for “love”. We may think that it is normal to have to force feed someone our affections when they say they do not want it; to see the potential in someone who we believe doesn’t ‘know’ how they feel/has ‘difficulty’ showing it and to accept neglectful behaviour in our lives.
It is a universal truth that in any relationship, you will experience conflict. Each of you may feel hurt due to something that the other has done and there will be times where you need to work harder at your commitment to one another. This is very different to being in regular, ongoing pain. In a mutual relationship, you do not have to numb your feelings and suppress your identity so that you can remain in the relationship. When the two become mixed up, you may think that your suffering shows how passionately you love and that only ‘real’, ‘passionate’ love is painful. Pain is not love, it is pain.
During the times in my life where I experienced Dynasty levels of drama in the name of love, it went a little something like this; The more that I hurt, the harder I fought for the relationship. I thought that there would be a change and I’d go from being in some sort of personal hell to happily ever after. I thought that I wanted and needed the pain, because the alternative of being left to pick up the pieces felt infinitely more painful to me.
Much of the pain in this kind of relationship stems from fear and drama making. Feelings of fear and seeking/creating drama, are mistaken as ‘love’. How does this happen? In all likelihood it is because we have poor relationship habits honed over an extended period of time, likely from childhood. Some of these very painful relationships are our comfort zone which is why jumping through hoops, feeling like nothing is good enough and being wounded by criticism or withdrawal of affection may have a powerful, subconscious allure.
In this mindset, it is easy to hope and believe that love and acceptance is what lies beyond the pain. The pain of this pursuit seems more valuable, than say, a person who matches their actions and words and wants to treat you with love, trust, and respect. You’ll probably feel suspicious of that. Anything stable and loving may feel downright uncomfortable and weird.
If you don’t address your self-esteem and your beliefs about love and relationships, then what qualifies love becomes very loosely defined and very destructive. It becomes the acceptance of crumbs. Many of the dysfunctional things that happen in poor relationships are easy to tag as ‘love’ and ‘passion’ the more that reality becomes distorted.
If you don’t reconcile who you think it is that you love with the reality of who they are and the relationship you have, it is impossible to see those feelings of drama and fear for what they are – fear and drama. As long as you are doing this, you will continue to fall into a cycle of poor relationships that result in similar, reinforcing experiences that love isn’t love unless it is painful. Fear causes inaction and eventual comfort with what started out as very uncomfortable because it seems far more uncomfortable to make positive changes that will make us accountable for our own feeling and uncomfortable truths.
When all is said and done, only you know your experience. The real test is this; if you develop a healthier relationship with yourself, resulting in healthier beliefs about love and relationships, will you still want this person? Or, will you finally realise that you haven’t experienced mutual, nourishing love yet and have been writhing in pain masquerading as love?
If loving someone means that you can’t love you, always choose you.