During the first seven weeks of my “Single for a Year” journey, I have spent a lot of time reading, reflecting, and healing. This was my goal for month number one.
I’ve been constantly asking myself, why do my relationships keep failing? So far, I’ve come up with several primary reasons: incompatibility, communication, and artificial love.
I could easily write a blog topic on each one of these, but the one that has really stuck out to me over these last seven weeks is the difference between real love and artificial love.
So, what is artificial love, and how do you recognize the differences between the two? do you recognize true love? Here is what I’ve learned:
The Differences Between Artificial Love and Real Love
What is Artificial Love?
Artificial love is really just loving someone “on the surface”, or selfishly. Artificial love doesn’t embrace the person for who they really are deep down inside, it “loves” someone for selfish reasons or even personal gain.
Artificial love is rude and easily angered.
Artificial love doesn’t go any deeper than lust or physical attraction.
Artificial love doesn’t listen to or respect others’ beliefs, viewpoints, or opinions.
Artificial love fades.
What is Real Love?
Love is gentle. Love is kind. Love is patient and love is not easily provoked. Love doesn’t seek to hurt… Love never fails.” – Corinthians 13:4-8
Real love uplifts, protects, compliments, and seeks the best—no matter what.
Real love is patient.
Real love welcomes those little life interruptions, rather than rush through them to get the next thing done.
Real love is SELFLESS and means putting others’ thoughts, feelings, needs, and interests first.
Real love isn’t harmful (meaning mentally, verbally, emotionally, physically or sexually abusive).
Real love is patient.
Real love is respectful.
Real love is unconditional.
Real love is forgiving.
Real love is showing trust.
Real love is empathetic and compassionate.
Real love goes far beyond physical attraction.
Real love isn’t a feeling; it’s something you do.
Real love is a CHOICE.
Real love is something you DO—a behavior and an action. If you really love someone, or if someone really loves you, then you show it by how you act and how you treat the other person.
No, real love isn’t always agreeable, but when you truly love, you seek to listen, find a resolution, and a compromise rather than shutting down, walking away or ignoring the other person. You are always willing to work it out. You learn, grow, and change together. Each person owns their weak points and commits to doing his or her part to improve—every day, not just when it’s convenient.
How to Love Selflessly
What do I mean by selfless? When I reflect on my relationships, perhaps the lesson that sticks out to me above all is that there is a difference between loving someone for the person they are and loving someone for what they do for you, or how they treat you.
Of course, everyone deserves to be treated well. Everyone has their own individual needs and feelings, which should always be respected by a partner. If they aren’t, then this is surely an artificial love red flag.
However, if you need constant reassurance about how the other person feels about you, but the little things they do on any given day drive you nuts deep down inside, then it’s likely that you might be with that person because you have subconsciously developed a co-dependency. You are depending on that person to treat you a certain way. You might love them for how they treat you, not them as a person.
If you are reading this and it seems familiar to you, don’t feel guilty. You might be doing this without realizing it. After all, it is easy to fall into these habits, but it isn’t so easy getting out, or recognizing when we become captured in the artificial love trap.
If you are unsure of whether or not the person in your life really, really loves you, I urge you to take some time to ask yourself some pretty hard, important questions about your partner. Pay attention to your feelings and inner witness. The answer is there. You just need to come to terms with it and accept it.
On the other hand, if you know for a fact that you love a person for everything they are, and you are willing to go the extra mile for him or her—every time, not just when it’s convenient—then this is likely true, unconditional love.
What Your Heart Means
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. – Proverbs 4:23
In the last seven weeks, I have also learned a lot about myself—and my own heart. Because I would consider myself to be someone with a big heart, I expect others to treat me with the same level of respect, compassion, and care that I constantly show others. The heart is involved in everything I do, say, and feel.
Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments is learning that this isn’t always the case. I need to let go any expectations from others, and continue giving just as I would. I will admit that I’m still struggling with this, so I don’t have any advice on how to conquer this one right now, but I learn, grow, and get better every day.
My heart is by far my greatest asset. And I won’t let others take away from me, destroy me, or tear me down. I will keep fighting until I learn, heal, and find real love. And I will know when it’s real, genuine love because that person will be “my person”, and I know I will be theirs. There won’t be any guessing, assumptions, or hoping.
If you struggle with relationships, check out this eBook, which provides you with a step-by-step guide through your own “Single for a Year” journey.