There’s Love, and Then There’s Moldy Egg Salad

This is for a special someone who is too inexperienced in this sort of thing as of yet to have figured this out thus far:

You say that this person tells you he/she loves you. You say that you too, love this person. And yet you’re miserably unhappy with each other, and you’re wondering what’s wrong, what you can do to “fix things.”

Allow me, if I may, to save you some time, possibly a whole helluva lot of time. Answer the following:

1) When you’re in public with this person who ‘loves’ you, do you feel that you have to watch what you say and do, in order to prevent this person from getting angry, annoyed, making fun of you, or rolling their eyes?

2) When you know that you’re at your very best – you look and feel great, you’re having a wonderful day, does a remark from this person who ‘loves’ you totally deflate that feeling of happiness? And does this happen often?

3) Do you find yourself apologizing a lot and having to explain yourself to this person who ‘loves’ you?

4) When there’s something you want or need from this person who says they love you, does it seem to matter to this person as much as their own needs and wants? Or is there always an excuse for why your needs and wants can’t be met?

5) Does this person who says they love you desire you sexually — you, personally — not just the sex for the sake of the sex? Do you feel that this person is present with you in your moments of intimacy, or do you feel like a receptacle or a stud service?

6) When you’re about to see this person who says they love you — either you have plans to meet somewhere, or this person is coming home — are you feeling relaxed about seeing this person, or anxious?

7) Do you sometimes get the oddest feeling that this person who says they love you is looking to “trade up?”

Well, here’s the thing: everyone feels one or more of these seven things once in a while, especially over a long relationship. But, if this is the way your life is with this person most of the time, this person doesn’t love you, no matter that they say they do. This person is showing you how they really feel about you. And that’s not the worst news. The worst news is, if you have put up with feeling so awful, being treated this way, being dismissed and diminished this way, then you, sadly, do not love yourself enough, either. Not yet. Unless this person is extremely wealthy and you badly need the patronage for, say, your new play.

But, if the latter isn’t the case, here’s what happens on that day that you wake up and finally like yourself enough to expect more from a relationship that should exist for the sole reason that it brings you joy:

You won’t be looking for a person, because you won’t need one. But one will come your way, anyway, just because you weren’t looking, and this relationship will be different. This person will have been drawn to you because you like yourself, as opposed to that other person who was drawn to you because you did not like yourself. Yes, you read that right– that first person who said they loved you, actually loved your insecurity, your doubts about yourself, your belief that you should be grateful for whatever crumbs life gives you, they give you, your belief that you did not deserve more. This person found those thoughts you had about yourself quite convenient, and so was determined to make sure you stayed feeling that way.

But this second person, this second person likes the healthy you — the you that likes you. This second person will ignore it if you say something dumb once in a while, or are not at your best once in a while. Or they’ll call you out on it in private, not for audience applause. This second person will not belittle you. Ever. Because this second person has too much self-respect to be with someone they find pitiable. They like the best in you because they like the best in themselves. They like you whether you look amazing, or are in your gym clothes. Your wants and needs are just as important as their wants and needs — those needs get thrown into the communal pot of needs you both have. It’s never “their wants” versus ” your wants.” Well … maybe sometimes, but most of the time, all needs are seen as “ours.” And sex? Sex with this person feels good. It makes you feel happy and relaxed, and glad to be alive. It doesn’t feel like some ‘by royal command’ performance.

How do I know this? Am I a therapist a marriage counselor? No. I’m a woman who has experienced both the false, needy, vampire-suck-out-your-blood-till-you’re-drained-dry love, versus the genuine, healthy, goddamn-glad-to-be-alive love.

And I can tell you this: even before your brain can identify it — your body knows it. Your body tells you how your spirit feels.

Bottom line, if you don’t feel good when you’re with this person, say, ninety percent of the time, whatever the reason, whoever is at “fault,” your body knows this person is not for you, and it’s not love that either of you is actually feeling. It’s some dysfunctional substitute that, if you stay with it long enough, will eventually start to work on you physically, like sugar in a car engine.

So, when you and I are having drinks together, dear friend, and you tell me how bad you feel, how badly you’re allowing yourself to be treated, and then you tell me that you’re “trying to save this love,” I’m going to sip my drink, nod, and say nothing. Because it hasn’t hit you yet. But I will be there for you when it does.

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