Sunday, 13 June 2021

Pop Thought: Love Is Not Enough

I realized this, that love is not enough, when I was in my early twenties. I was in love with a highly traumatized person who did a lot of drugs when I did none, hung out with people I didn't like to be with at all, lived a life I didn't connect with and did things for fun that I didn't find entertaining. At the time, I couldn't have articulated how I knew that love was not enough but I did. It didn't seem "fair" but I just knew that, however painful it was to admit it, it wasn't going to be enough to keep me with that person.

You can love a person with your whole heart and they can love you back the same way but if the actual relationship you are having with that person doesn't feed your needs, makes you feel small or insignificant, goes deeply against your (or his/her) personal grain, disrupts your nervous system, takes you too far away from your own life and desires, doesn't align with your most essential values, you have nothing in common, or it otherwise makes your life too difficult or uncomfortable, the love will very often not be enough. No matter how much love you start off with, incompatible relationship requirements can wear it down to nothing.

Hands reaching out
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
The relationship is the invisible third party in your love affair.

...and we're pretty much clueless that it exists as a separate thing.

I've recently started deeply considering what I want... not in a loving partner, I know that part, I have a bunch of vision boards on that topic and a long list of bullet points... but what do I want in the relationship itself

How would I like our days to be spent? What things do I need to share and which ones can I let go? Lots of togetherness, not too much togetherness? Lots of deep discussion, a little bit of everyday life discussion? Chatting while we do the dishes or throwing them in the dishwasher and going our own ways for the evening? Doing healing work, climbing mountains, visiting friends, watching movies, doing little things for each other? What kind of friends? Do we need to have lots of common friends or do I not care who he hangs out with, I'll never see them? How much time do each of us spend with our family? The other person might need to be comfortable with that. What are the things from past relationships that I really enjoyed and would like (or need) to have again? What are the experiences or behaviours from past relationships that I will never, ever put up with again?

This list I am building, all of the things on it can affect me, affect how I feel day-in-day-out. Having a guy who has a huge heart, cares for the homeless and acts like a superhero when there is a great need, being very kind and helpful, rushing in when there is a tragedy and drama is great but if he's always at work or always helping others and has little or no time for me or our life together... am I okay with that? And what if I love to spend time together learning new things and he loves to sit and watch sports a lot or work alone in his garage building things? Everyone's choices need to be respected! No one should have their needs, wants and desires denied to please the other person but some things, some people (even if they love each other deeply) are not compatible in close, intimate, everyday relationships.

It might simply come down to this: how do you want to behave and feel MOST days and how do you want the other person to behave and feel MOST days. How do you want your days to play out and what are your expectations and desires?

Sit down and write it out. Pay attention to what you are getting and not getting in all types of relationships that you presently have. What are you enjoying and not enjoying because it might actually be the real make or break. 

A relationship is not something that we can just order up and have it be perfect. As with our choice of partner, we need some flexibility depending on certain periods in our lives, exceptional events, etc. However, I think it's really important to become aware of our needs in this area. We need to start naming and defining what we want when choosing that invisible third party ...the relationship itself. It may be just as important as our choice of partner.


  1. Very well expressed, thanks. Lot's if examples to relate to in different contexts. These are why we can keep loving someone, and remain good friends with them and theirs, even if we can't live with them. No need to hate them or beat ourselves up about bad choices. One of the hard things though is how to transition to a different type of relationship with them, including letting go of expectations. Stay strong!

    1. In case you are interested, I also wrote another post on allowing relationships to change to something new (if different from what we originally wanted):
      My experience was that I had to be willing to experience discomfort and awkwardness. It seems to take patience, little steps, time and to fully grieve the old version of the relationship to be able to imagine what the new one could look like and move toward it.