Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love…Liberating or Limiting?

This was the timely topic of interest for Valentine's Day on a natural hair board I frequent. I had tossed around a few subjects for my next post and settled on this one since it has been weighing on me a lot lately.

Love and relationships should never be just flat out hard. Love is a choice that is made and given freely without expectations. You can love someone and not spend your life with them as a spouse or significant other. You can also love someone and not have them love you in return. I know plenty of people who say that their relationship is hard and trying all the time. I can’t help but ask why? I had a teacher in high school whose favorite quote was “Love should make you happy 90% of the time.” When complaining to a friend about my own relationship, this quote came back to me in a light bulb moment.

Maybe we do force ourselves to be in relationships that are not healthy. Often we get caught up in looks, the feeling of loneliness and the “I’m ready to be married/have a family because I’m _____ years old” mentality.

Love should come easily and should not be limiting. I was in a relationship that mirrored who I was and I did not like what I saw. Anger, emotional abuse, jealousy, trust issues and neediness that surpassed all traits of love. Imagine tensing up every time your spouse walks in the door? Crazy, right? Ironically, I receive the best kind of love from my friends. We have many conversations on the fact that you may pick your friends with greater sincerity than you pick your partner/spouse. Let me explain.

One of my friends is a man who I have known for almost 20 years. We made the decision to remain “just friends” about 4 years into our friendship. I love my friend tremendously and he has become a family member to me. We do not have to talk everyday or even once a month, but we always seem to find each other when one of us needs emotional support. We have no expectations on the other person; we are free to be the person we are rather it be weak, strong, hurtful or prideful. I was asked if we became friends because we wanted to have the other person in our lives for a lifetime and I had to think about it.

We have been friends through failed relationships, marriages, separations, deaths, births and career changes. I am sure we will continue to be friends for a long to come, so the answer would be yes. Yes, I picked him as a friend so I would have him in my life forever.

If friendships can be so liberating why can’t relationships? Do we really make a bigger investment in choosing our friends than we do our mates?

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