We say “I love you” or “I love (fill in the blank)” so casually in our everyday lives that it becomes empty and insignificant. Many people say “I love pizza,” “I love brownies,” “I love working out (or maybe not),” “I love my car,” and recently I heard a teenager tell someone she had only met a few days prior, “I love you so much.” I wondered to myself, “If they just met a few days ago, do they really love each other, and do we really love all of these things?”
When I began to ponder why we use the words “I love” without meaning, the following came to mind:
> Movies: Boy meets girl, they fall in love, something monumental happens, and they live happily ever after. We see it so much, we believe it is real. We can tell ourselves that this is just a movie, but it skews our perception. What are our expectations when we are looking for the right one? Is our decision based on physical appearance, money or other qualities? And when times get tough (and they will), what do we hope will happen (someone will save us)?
> Music: Many people listen to secular music several hours a day. Many of the lyrics revolve around love: “All You Need Is Love” (Beatles), “As Long as You Love Me” (Justin Beiber), “Love Will Keep Us Together” (The Captain and Tennille), “Love The Way You Lie” (Rihanna) … and the list goes on.
As a therapist and mom, it saddens me to see the songs that have provided generations with a fantasy of love.
When I ask clients about how they first met, frequently I hear stories such as: “It was love at first sight;” “I fell in love after just a few dates;” and “I knew she was the right one as soon as I saw her.”
These descriptions do not hold true for all my clients, but these descriptions do sound like they are out of movie scripts. After these couples get married, they are frequently surprised when reality hits. We have to pay the bills, we have to stay up all night because the baby is crying, we are upset with each other because we have a difference of opinion, we gained 20 pounds, or we went bald. Many people are unaware of what it takes to stay married. Frequently, couples don’t discuss the everyday challenges, the ups and downs and the frustrations because love will solve everything. It does not work that way.
So what is love?
I can’t define love for you, but usually it doesn’t develop (referring to the songs with a love theme) in five seconds, it doesn’t work if you lie, it’s not healthy if you are addicted to it, and you can lose that loving feeling (but that doesn’t mean the relationship is over). Relationships take work, patience, compromise and giving to one another to develop and maintain a loving bond.