“Love is about forgetting yourself and thinking about the other person first.”
Around a year ago, I was fortunate enough to find a website that identify themselves as The Man’s Guide to Love. A couple of guys got together and came up with the idea of asking men from all around the country one simple question: “If you had one piece of advice that you’d give another man about love, what would it be?” As you have likely guessed, the answers range from serious to funny, practical to impractical, vulnerable to closed off, and so on. The quotes intertwined between paragraphs are from the video responses on this website. I would strongly recommend that everyone reading this take a few minutes of their day to watch some of the responses. It is fascinating to see the differences in advice given based on age, race, and socioeconomic status. (Ladies, I apologize that these quotes and video responses are from men to men, but I feel that they can relate to love from your perspective as well, for the most part)
“If you show love, you feel love.”
I’ve always found it interesting that a single word can have so many different interpretations. Love is only a 4-letter word, but it can take us a lifetime to define it. Honestly, an entire lifetime might not be enough for all of us to find a definition of love that fits for us.
“You have to be generous in every aspect of your relationship.”
As I was saying, love can be a hard word for us to define. It can mean a different thing to all of us. So with that in mind, I wanted to share my favorite definition of the word love that I have heard. The word love in Hebrew is ahavah (אהבה), which means, “to give”. This definition was discussed in one of the video responses, and really stood out to me above the rest. I think that one reason it stands out to me is that it reminds us that love is not about taking. So often we get focused on what a situation, environment, or even another person can provide us and neglect to consider what we can provide the other person. I look at love as always considering the needs of others in front of our needs.
“Forgive yourself so that you may forgive others.”
There was one time I was talking with a couple, who at the time, had been married for around 30 years. The topic of conversation somehow shifted to relationships and marriage. I can clearly and distinctly remember both of them agreeing that the most important quality in a relationship is the ability to forgive the other person. While I’m not married, I can still see the power and impact that forgiveness can have in a relationship. Without the ability to forgive another person, we will form bitterness or resentment towards them. This is a problem, as I believe love is impossible with the presence of bitterness or resentment.
“When she’s upset, don’t just do something, sit there. Sit there and listen.”
Forgiveness is something that takes practice. Our human tendency when we are wronged or hurt is to retaliate. Instead of our goal being to make amends with the individual who wronged us, we focus on making them feel the pain that we have experienced. I’ll try to avoid being redundant in my discussion on communication skills that we can use with each other to try to better understand feelings and reactions from others, and suggest that if you’d like to read more into that to check out my previous post here.
“It’s difficult to find love for another woman if you don’t have a good relationship with your mother.”
Another interesting response in one of the videos I watched was the quote above. After watching that response, I can say that I completely agree. Growing up my mom always told me to look at how my ‘love interests’ treat their parents, brothers, or sisters as this will speak volumes on their potential to love you (Thanks mom!). Families are the first opportunity for us to develop and experience loving relationships with others. I was lucky enough to come from a family that provided me with more than enough love and care. Sadly, this is not the case for everyone. When I have couples come to see me for couples counseling, I would guess that at least 90% of them experienced less than ideal family relationships growing up. We learn behaviors from our family, good or bad. We don’t always have to adhere to these behaviors our entire life, but it can be difficult to become aware of or challenge the destructive pattern of behaviors in relationships that we’ve learned from family members.
“Love is not a one-way thing. It’s not right for one side if it’s not right for both sides.”
This quote really hits home for me. I have been in a couple of relationships in my life that have reached the “serious level”, as marriage and a future together were discussed. None of those relationships continued to the point of marriage, so each time I found myself lost and confused because they ended. I found myself saying, “Wait, I thought we were setting a foundation for something special, but now it’s over. What now?” This quote has provided me with a sense of piece when I think back to those painful memories and times of relationships fading and ending. Love is something that must fit for both parties involved, otherwise it is not love. As I have grown older, I have come to realize that what I thought was love in the past was something different. There was something lacking. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t special or that it wasn’t important to me; it merely wasn’t love.
That was the last quote that I will have time to explore, as I have reached my word limit for this entry. I’ll leave some of the ones that I enjoyed below, and allow you to consider how they might speak to you.
“It’s not fifty/fifty, it’s one hundred/one hundred.”
“We get trapped in societal rules and think this is the way love should be. There are no rules. Listen to your heart.”
“Not just passion for each other, but a passion for life. A passion for everything.”
“Be as big a goon and as big a geek and nerd as you are. Don’t hide anything.”
“Stop looking for greener grass. It’s just not there.”
“A lot of us have closed hearts. If you really want to be loving, get into your own heart.”
“If you admit your faults first, people will listen more intently.”
“You have to respect the woman for who she is, not who you desire her to be in your mind.”
“Don’t set expectations because love comes out of nowhere.”
“Be patient, men. Your prince or princess is out there waiting for you someplace.”
“Compromise. Lots and lots of compromise.”