Love is Not Supposed to be Easy

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Claire Colvin -Love4

Recently there was a thread on Reddit that stopped me in my tracks. There was a woman—we’ll call her Jane—who was looking for some relationship advice.

Months earlier Jane had bought a pair of tickets to Hamilton—the musical sensation that is taking over Broadway. She was planning to take her mom for a week’s vacation in New York City and often talked to her boyfriend—we’ll call him Fred—about how excited she was about the trip.

One Sunday morning she went for brunch with Fred and his parents and was completely baffled when Fred’s mom ran up to her, thanking her for the generous gift she had given Fred’s sister. Jane didn’t remember any gifts, so she asked Fred what was going on and Fred said he had told his sister that she could have the Hamilton tickets.

Jane was floored. Fred never asked her if he could have the tickets and she would never have agreed to it. They went outside the restaurant and had a huge fight, with Fred accusing Jane of being selfish for not giving up the tickets. It got pretty awful.

But here’s the part that stopped me in my tracks: Jane wrote to Reddit to ask if breaking up with this guy was an overreaction.

Can you imagine?

This man tried to steal from her, manipulated her, embarrassed her, had no regard for her feelings and Jane wondered if maybe she should still date him. How did we get to a place where a woman can be treated so poorly and still doubt her own agency, her right to her own voice, and even her own property? What made her hesitate when his behavior should have sent her running for the hills?

I think the reason is that we’re told over and over that being with someone—anyone—is better than being alone. And that’s not true. Love IS important, but our value and identity do not lie in being part of a pair. We do not exist as half of God’s plan for us. Each of us has value and a purpose on her own. But those aren’t the songs we hear on the radio, or the stories that play out on the big screens at the movies.

I have seen single people accept less than enough because it seemed like it was better than nothing. But being with someone who does not respect you, does not care about you, is not kind toward you, is far worse than being alone. Being alone isn’t easy—trust me, I have experience in this—but it isn’t fatal.

It shouldn’t be so hard to spot good love. Love that is mean is bad love. Love that is manipulative and coercive and conniving and false is bad love. We should be able to spot that counterfeit a mile away. Love is supposed to be hard work, but it’s supposed to be the good kind of hard work.

The work of love should be like putting in a garden. It’s hard and sweaty and parts of it are not very glamorous, but you can look along the row and see the fruit of your labour. It should be a refining work, not the kind of work that breaks the spirit.

I don’t know why Jane thought there might still be a reason to stay, but I do know that any time we look for our value in someone or something else, we give away our power and lose our ability to love from a place of wholeness.

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Claire Colvin
Claire is learning to call herself a feminist. She has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade. In 2013, her National Novel Writing Month entry was a science fiction story about a broken world where everyone was required to be as similar as possible. Claire wishes she could fold the world like a map so the people she loves weren’t so far away. She lives on a small mountain near Vancouver and writes at clairecolvin.ca.
Claire Colvin
Claire Colvin

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