How to Love: Sisterly Advice

 

A couple days ago my sister and I were having a conversation, and we trailed into the context of what love is.  We discussed how people say there are different types of love and her response intrigued me.  With that being said, I decided to give her the reigns of the website to share her response of how to love others correctly.  Enjoy.

It seems to me that people have a misunderstanding about love these days, regarding what it is and isn’t. Keeping in mind that this is all my own view on the matter. Say what you will.
People say its an emotion, something you feel towards people. I’ve heard high schoolers say they love their significant other, bursting into tears when they break up. I remember being in middle and high school, and thinking, “No you didn’t. You’re 14. You’re too young to understand something so big.”
As I’ve grown up, and gone through relationships with people, both friendly and romantic, I have gotten to know a variety of people types. One type that makes me somewhat sad, but also bewildered is those who believe that the love which lasts a lifetime does not exist. They say that they don’t believe people are meant to stay with one person, or with any person at all for long periods of time. These people make me sad in a way because when they say this, I feel as though they’ve given up on something I have found to be very much real.
I’m now 21, and I’ve only recently hit a point where I feel a little enlightened on what love is, and oh my trees- it is more simple and complex than I ever thought possible.
I was having a conversation with a friend not to long ago about love and hate. He had jokingly told me he hated me for something I did or said, and I took the conversation in a different direction than I think he was expecting. He called me a jerk for something, and I responded saying I couldn’t help it. His response was “Still hate you, can’t help that.” I responded by telling him that I could not help it if he hated me, but he could. He said “You don’t choose hate.” I told him that hate is a choice, as is love. “You can FEEL love,” he said in response. “That’s a feeling. And then you can decide to act on it. What you do with that feeling is your choice, not WHAT you feel.”
Now, by this point, I had gone through the last several years of my life saying that love is an action, and I fully believed that. I wasn’t yet sure how to explain it to someone else in a way that they could understand, but that is what I believed, and still do. Until the other night, I had never really been sure how to describe how I viewed it. It was when the conversation was brought up with a coworker that I finally felt as though I had dipped my pinky toe into the pool of understanding this phenomenon.
He and I enjoy discussing things that most feel uncomfortable talking about, and depression had come up that night, and the conversation lead to relationships. I told him that while some believe that no one is meant to be with one person (or just meant to not have anything lasting), I feel as though we are “hardwired” for that sort of connection with a single person, that it is what our very being craves. He said he used to feel that way until he and his son’s mother divorced. He posed this question to me during our discussion: “How is it that the love I feel for my son, and the love I felt for her, are different?”
Even though I’d never really thought about it in those terms, I knew my answer right away, and said, “They aren’t. They are the same.”
Now, I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely expecting that answer myself. You know those conversations you have with a friend that leave you thinking to yourself, “Wow! Since when did I talk that philosophically, and wise-ish?!” That’s kinda how I felt leaving that conversation. His initial reaction was a very skeptical face, and I knew exactly why. I could almost read his mind, thinking about how he felt about and treated his wife in comparison to his son, and yes- that is very different. But the love itself is not what was different. It was the emotions he felt along with the love he felt for them.
In today’s day and age, I feel like we as a whole of society view things very askew (there are several things I could go into, but I have a very specific topic on my mind at this current time). But I feel as though we can be especially bad when it comes to love.
Please, be careful. Be so very careful not to confuse love with something it isn’t. It is not lust. It is not infatuation. It certainly is not romance, though that seems to be the one we confuse it with the most. I asked some people what word came to mind when hearing the word “love,” and they gave me things like care, compassion, even difficult. Really, it’s an impossible question, asking someone to put such a big thing into one word. Who knew one small word could be so complex, yet so simple at the same time?
If I had to choose one word to equate it to, it would be selflessness- doing something to benefit someone else with zero aim to benefit yourself along the way. That, my friends, is a choice, and it is very difficult.
People seem to think that things will magically work out with someone when you fall in love. I’m sorry, but that’s not how it works. It isn’t easy, as nothing this important to your life is. You have to make the conscious choice to choose that person you’re with, and you have to make that choice every. Single. Day. From beginning to end. You have to choose to put them first, to make them a priority. Things don’t magically fall in line, and then stay there.
You’ve heard of the Honeymoon Phase, yes? Everyone loves to be there because everything is so new, and fresh, and exciting, and “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m so lucky to have this person.” But why does everything fall apart after you get past that period?
That thought I just typed down? Look at it again- “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m so lucky to have this person.” There’s the problem.
Can’t see it? Its ok, it is way too easy to miss. I never caught it until I had that click in my brain, and realized I was missing a very important piece to understand why we don’t understand it. That piece is selflessness.
We become so enamored in how someone can make us feel. They make you feel happy, safe, secure, loved. They help you grow, and mature, and all those things. And don’t get me wrong, those are important in a relationship. But if that’s your focus when it comes to your partner, I’m sorry, but you need to reevaluate. When you truly care about someone and choose to actually love them, there will be a change in your thinking, and you might not even notice until someone points it out. Your focus will change from how they make you feel to how you make them feel. To be quite frank, it goes from ‘what they do for you’ to ‘what you do for them’- what you do for them without trying to benefit yourself in the process.
This is something that’s been racking around in my brain for a while now, the fact that we as a whole don’t understand love. It is something I feel is so important that we understand.
Love is not something that simply appears out of nowhere. Yes, certain people strike certain chords on our hearts, and we care about them, and want to keep them in our lives. Yes, we come across people that mean so much to us that we choose to spend the rest of our life with them. But that is not love. That is connection, and I cannot emphasize enough that they are NOT the same thing, and that we have to choose to love them. Always and forever. Your relationships will always fail if you do not choose to love that person daily, hourly. Constantly. You can care about someone, and feel connected to them. They can be the most important person in your life. But it is meaningless if you do not choose to love them.
And it goes beyond our loved ones. It extends to those we don’t even know. Our souls, our very beings crave true love. They crave connection, but overall, we are hardwired for love. And again, I am not referring to romance. I am referring to real, true, honest, pure love. The kind that does not discriminate. The kind that does not lie to you in order to try to not hurt your feelings and stay on good terms with you. The kind that is passionate, and caring, and fierce, like the fire that gives you life when everything around you is so cold. A hand to hold when you’re alone. A listening ear when you feel like no one hears you. Ready and patiently waiting for you to call to them because right now, being around people just hurts. The kind that is always and forever there for you.
We are in a beautiful and chaotic world that hurts, and feels alone. We feel as though we are enveloped in darkness. But darkness is nothing more than an absence of light. The smallest candle in a dark room brings light. Just the same, the smallest act of love makes things feel better because that is what we need.
The love you have for your spouse is no different than the love you have for your child, or even a stranger. The level of connection is different, but that is all. You don’t need to know someone to love them. You simply need to care enough to not leave them with no one. To commit a selfless act.

 

Taylor Wiley

 How to Love: Sisterly Advice

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