I had a juvenile concept of love.
When I was younger, loving someone meant that I cared deeply for them and was happy to be around them. I assumed attraction and attention equaled love. If I agreed with people who shared my interests and made me laugh that meant we loved each other. If you’re on the same wavelength with a person, it’s easy to mistake that connection for love. But this conception is surface-level.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always kind of known that “loving someone” means more than just getting along with them or being attracted to them. I have friends I trust and do indeed love. But growing up, society had me believing love was more of a feeling. And it was always easier to feel more loving towards people who shared my beliefs and interests. Relationships like that flow smoothly. It’s a natural thing; it’s easy to love people that are similar to you. But what about people you don’t automatically “click” with?
My reflection on a friendship sparked a new conversation.
Recently, my perspective on loving people has been flourishing in a new way via a close relationship with a friend who is divergent from me. In many areas, we’re downright opposites- which requires extra effort for our friendship. We’re usually on different pages with our thoughts and have to work at communicating clearly. We (figuratively) speak different languages and our intentions are often lost in translation.
Lately I’ve been working on understanding more about the way my friend’s mind works. I don’t like it when there’s not a black and white fix to a misunderstanding. And because we operate so uniquely, it’s a struggle to make the connections that come so easily in other relationships.
Those hardest to love need it most.
I’m not going to lie; it is frustrating. It takes hope, understanding, kindness, and a lot of patience. Some might ask why we bother trying to be friends if we’re so different. We’ve actually asked ourselves this same question multiple times. Why should we persevere something that obviously isn’t easy? If this relationship takes so much effort, why are we wasting our time trying to know one another on a deeper level? Why put up with each other?
I don’t think any relationship is a waste. Our relationships with others are defining experiences. Each one is colorful and unique to any other relationship in the entirety of the world! And they create the person we’re meant to be. We discover new interests and skills by learning about people and forming friendships. Relationships create conflict too. They challenge our beliefs and spark growing pains. They take us out of our comfort zones and push us to fight battles we didn’t even know we needed to fight. Goodness knows my stubbornness drives my dad crazy and my attention to grammatical error drives people up a wall. But despite the things I do that upset people, they still choose to know me. And I believe it is because love is a relationship and relationships are proclamations of love.
Every day that I choose to work on a relationship with someone is a day I choose to love.
Loving people isn’t all about getting along and singing happy songs all the time. Love is a daily commitment and choice. Love is an action verb. We love by showing up when times are hard and letting friends cry in our arms. We love by pushing people to ask for those promotions they deserve and cheering them on when they succeed. We love by baking cupcakes for birthdays and dog-sitting on the weekends. We love in so many ways! Just try to think of all the verbs!
When I was younger, loving someone meant that I cared for them and was happy to be around them. But now I know that loving someone means I choose to care for them and choose to be around them. The most priceless gift we can give someone in this world is our time. And when we offer our precious time to strengthen a relationship, that is what it means to love someone.
Never Stopped Loving You | Ryan Montbleau