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“Love does not hurt, it feels good. The rest is just an overrated version of misguided lovers!” What I learnt about love since I first felt its stirrings.
I was in my late teens and in a poetry club when I recited a poem about love. If I remember it well, it was all about love and longing and giving your life away for your beloved. Everyone applauded. My day was made.
On the way back, a lady who was in her mid-forties offered me a lift in her car. She started talking about love. All I remember from the conversation was that, the identity or meaning of love changes with every decade of your life. I did not think much about it. I was 19. I was in love. And I thought, that was what life was all about. Love, the way I knew it.
Then life moved on and in that trail, it left me wiser.
We are conditioned to be in love. How are we taught to be in love? That love is giving without asking anything in return. Love is giving away of yourself. And that your true love will save you.
Culturally if we see, we have made suffering a virtue. And like so many young girls, I completely bought the idea. I took to heart the popular but ill-conceived message that love means you have to sacrifice. I was a martyr without a cause. The day I fell in love I decided to be this giving woman, who loves without asking. Of course it was a disaster.
The thing is that, no one teaches young girls about loving yourself or setting one’s boundaries. We don’t teach that to boys either. Our narrative of love or relationships is that of the rescued and the rescuer.
The first guy I thought I was in love with cried everyday because his girlfriend had left him. He didn’t love me or anything, he just needed to cry and I gave him my attention. I almost played the role of the rescuer. I was too young to understand that no one needs rescuing. We are all adults making choices. It all ended when he fell in love with his long lost friend and moved on as if I did not exist.
But here is another secret: I had an absolute need to be needed. That happens with women with very low self-esteem. I thought that the guys I liked were out of my league, so they will only talk to me or be my friend if they needed me somehow. In my mind, I made them heroes, people who were always better than me. So when he left, I was not too shocked because I somehow made myself believe that I never deserved him. I found another guy I thought I was in love with, and the same story continued, though it was much short lived.
But nothing will go away until you learn the lessons.
I was 23 then. I was broken. I still remember how I would look at other girls and curse myself for not being them. I used to look at the girlfriends of the guys (whom I thought I was in love with) and tell myself, that I am such a dud in comparison. I had almost perfected the art of self-rejection by then.
It was at that point that I took the first step towards self-love. I did everything to change the game. I was a woman on fire, who wanted to break this pattern and self-condemnation. I searched all videos on YouTube that talked about well-being. I remember waking up in the morning and doing those affirmations that come with every Louise Hay’s book; running to work, coming back and redoing it. As they say, the Universe brings in what you ask for.
I learnt to approve of myself. I learnt to love myself and most importantly, I learnt that love asks me to be happy not a martyr. To be loved, I need not be anything; I just need to be myself. As Oprah Winfrey says, ‘Relationships are complimentary not supplementary.’ When you get into a relationship to be saved, you are being unfair to the other person. For no one is here to be your saviour. You save yourself. When we ask someone to be a hero all the time, we take away their right to be human. It is a social problem that teaches boys to be heroes or saviours.
It is high time we change this narrative. Love is overrated. A boy or a girl is not here to make you feel like a prince or princess. Getting rejected is okay, so is making mistakes. Relationships are not about saving or giving. It’s about togetherness. It’s about both partners taking responsibility for themselves.
Most importantly, you can never love someone, if you don’t love yourself. You will just run after mirages in search of approval and love. Relationships are a balance of give and take. If you are the one who is always giving without getting anything in return, you will become bitter. In fact, the whole Universe runs on the phenomenon of giving and receiving. You are not wiser than the Universe. Are you?
Now that I have learnt to love myself, I see so many people wanting to be with me.
Love does not hurt, it feels good. Rest is just an overrated version of misguided lovers! Love is not asking you to be a martyr but to be happy and fulfilled. That is the purpose of any relationship.
This I know for sure.
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Published here earlier.
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Proud Indian. Senior Writer at Women's Web. Columnist. Book Reviewer. Street Theatre - Aatish. Dreamer.
There are two components to falling in love and perhaps being in love -one is attraction and the other is companionship. Attraction is certainly over rated but companionship is not. Attraction is a primal instinct that can have no value beyond the point of physical satisfaction which is often age related and momentary at best.(even the animals get that right! it’s a no brainer) Although I don’t want to diss physical attraction cos it helps the species ultimately survive by mating and reproduction (even if all don’t choose this purpose in human society, some do and they must for us to survive as a species) Companionship on the hand is more long lasting and require more conscious effort and action, thought and feeling. While attraction may force you to stop thinking before acting and cause you to make bad decisions, companionship will force you to use your brains to make the right ones. Attraction may fade or wane with age and circumstance but what is more abiding is companionship.(friendships teach us that -we may never have been attracted to our friends but their companionship is always cherished right?) In fact companionship, in love is what may keep the attraction alive but I doubt the other way is true. So I would rate companionship far higher than attraction in the idea of love. That is the key. However companionship comes from first being a wholesome and balanced person oneself and then seeking the same in someone else. Seek to be whole yourself- content and happy with who you are and then seek out a companion who is also the same and you can’t get the love thing very wrong with this formula in my opinion. If finding attraction is the path it will come with a lot of thorns however if companionship is the goal the path may get smoother.
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