*This post is written in regards to those dating, not married.*
“But I love him.” I know you do, girl. I know. And you know what? I did too. For almost 4 years I loved someone that didn’t love me well. Those famous words and feelings have been confusing heads and dirtying the decision making waters for women and men since way before Boyz To Men made being in love even more emotional.
It seems to me that these 4 words have been the death of many good choices people make when they are in love. I love giving relationship counsel and in doing so, I’ve heard just under 124 billion people in bad relationships say this. You know, give or take.
“I know he has anger problems, but I love him.”
“I know he is really selfish, but I love him.”
“Yes, he was unfaithful, but I love him.”
He or she is jealous, pushy, aggressive, reckless with your feelings, treats you like an option, has a bad history with women/men and yes, you love him. Never mind getting into how you fell so deeply for someone who has treated you so poorly, there is something else very major that is being missed here: Love is NOT the problem. You have gotten that part down pat. You love them. You aren’t trying to fix your feelings because you are struggling to love. The problems are the other things that love cannot fix: the major relationship issues or tendencies of the one you are dating.
For example, if you want to be with them but they are unfaithful, your love cannot fix that issue. so why are you offering it as a solution? They aren’t cheating because of your love and you aren’t dodging being hurt by the cheating because you love them. The problem remains regardless of your feelings so emotions should not factor in to your decision to leave the relationship. Your love doesn’t remedy someone else’s deficiency in good character or care for you.
When someone says “But I love them”, it is as related to the choice to stay involved as eating pancakes is to curing obesity. You love pancakes. That has been locked and loaded. You want to lose weight. If you need to make the right choice to lose weight, how much admiration you have for pancakes won’t help you not get fat if you eat them. IHOP isn’t getting you anywhere. If you want to lose pounds, lose the pancakes. How much you enjoy eating them has nothing to do with solution and you know the problem you are trying to solve. You aren’t fixing your love for pancakes. You are fixing your weight, not feelings.
I understand that loving someone makes it very hard to leave the wrong person. Remember earlier when I said I did that very thing almost 4 years? We have all been there and I know why these infamous words are uttered by the brokenhearted a million times a day in this world. Still, when the waves of love settle in to real life, possibly a marriage, kids, and bills, your passion will subside and leave you with ALL the traits you chose in them, including the ones that initially made you doubt your choice to be with them. “But I love him” will not carry you through the passionless days with someone who never loved you well in the first place. When you are dating, you are seeing the best version of someone else. They may change, but the only thing you are guaranteed for sure is what you’ve already got. As time gives way into what should replace intense butterflies with a deep love and intimacy, what you will be left with is someone who showed you years ago that they didn’t have what it took to give you that deep long lasting safe love.
Leaving a person you love is hard, but it’s much harder to end up with someone you knew you shouldn’t have been with years ago. I would rather be alone forever than with the wrong person. Truly, not only is staying because you love them not the answer now, it will be the very reason you kick yourself in the future.
It’s easy for me to tell you to stop dating the wrong person. I know, I know…I can’t understand your situation. But on the contrary, when someone who loves you tells you to walk away from something toxic, the fact that we aren’t in your shoes and aren’t in love with that person gives us an advantage, not disadvantage. When emotion is removed, objectivity reigns and someone covered up in the love puppies could use a little bit of that. Actually, a whole lot of that.
So should you stay with someone who is treating you consistently in a way that is leaving you less confident, hurt, anxious? No, and love is not a justification. Emotion can’t cure what wasn’t an emotional problem to begin with. Address what really is the issue. Drop the pancakes, lose the love, and by all means, drop those four little words. I love yous shouldn’t come with buts.
Photo Credit: Shelly Griffin Photography