Love is one of the most interesting phenomena in human existence. The more I try to understand this phenomenon, the more I realise its sheer beauty and endlessness. Love truly is limitless and immeasurable.
However, in this post I wish to talk about an aspect of love that is measurable, very limited, and mostly unconscious to many people.
We all have different ways of expressing our love to our loved ones. Gary Chapman, in his book “The 5 Love Languages” says, that every one of us speaks a different language of love. And sometimes the way we express love can be so different from what the other expects to receive that it can almost make the other feel like we do not love them at all.
[Check out Garry Chapman’s work on his website – https://www.5lovelanguages.com/ ]
In my journey of working with people working through their relationship struggles, I have come across some very interesting ways in which people express their love. Sometimes I see very healthy and positive ways of expressing love. And sometimes I see unhealthy and toxic ways of expressing love.
In this post I wish to compile some of the unhealthy and toxic ways through which people express their love to their loved ones. The key factor to understand here is that there is no denying the Love. Love exists in the relationship. But the way love is being expressed is what is questionable and even avoidable.
Even though the tone of this post would predominantly refer to couple relationships, these patterns apply to any kind of relationships – couples, siblings, parent-child or even friends.
1. I LOVE YOU….AND THEREFORE I WILL CRITICISE YOU!
“I love you. I want you to be the best version of yourself. And I will keep telling you the faults that I see in you. Even the slightest little fault, the slightest mistake, the slightest aspect of you that can improve, I will bring it to your notice at every opportunity I find. Because I want you to improve and get better.”
Eventually, these people struggle to appreciate their partner even if they wish to. They only see faults.
2. I LOVE YOU…AND THEREFORE I WILL CONTROL EVERYTHING YOU DO!
“I love you. I want us to have the perfect life together. And I know exactly what we need in order to have the perfect life. I only need you to follow my instructions and do what I ask you to do. It’s really very simple. Just do as I ask you to do. Our life will be perfect!”
Eventually, the one receiving this kind of love starts to feel suffocated and lose his/her identity in the relationship.
3. I LOVE YOU…AND THEREFORE I SHOULD KNOW YOU INSIDE OUT!
“To love someone is to be one with them. If I really love you I should know what you are feeling, I should know what you need at every point in time, I should know everything about you at every point in time. And then I will do all the things that I think you need. The slightest inclination of your discomfort starts my process of predicting what you MIGHT need. I want to be like a mother who predicts that the child is crying because it is hungry at one time and predicts that the child is crying because it is feeling cold at another time.”
Eventually this lover appears to be the obsessive and hyper-anxious one in the relationship – who is on an endless drive to prove his/her love.
4. I LOVE YOU….AND THEREFORE I WILL KEEP TESTING IF YOU REALLY LOVE ME!
“If you really love me, you will know me fully. If you really love me, you will know what I want. I will not communicate it to you. If I have to tell you what I need, then it means you do not love me enough. Then you are doing things only because I ask you for it. I want you to give me what I need even before I state it…and ideally even before I know it myself.”
Eventually this is a person who appears very distrustful and demanding, and is perpetually disappointed in his/her partner.
5. I LOVE YOU…AND THEREFORE I WILL DUMP MY CRAP ONTO YOU!
“I have gone through a lot of pain in my life. And I want you to understand that I am carrying a lot of wounds inside me. I love you and therefore I need you to carry some of my pain and wounds. I will keep dumping all my hurt, anger, frustration, disappointment and pain onto you and I want you to take it all in because you love me as well.”
Eventually, this appears like a relationship where lover is often ill-treating and sometimes even abusing the other, and expects the other submit to all the crap that he/she has to offer.
6. I LOVE YOU…AND THEREFORE I WILL PARENT YOU!
“I love you and I know that you are very childish. I am always worried about you. You don’t know how to deal with this big bad world. You need protection. You need to be taken care of. And I will take care of you. I will tell you what you must do. I will tell you who you can talk to and who is good for you and bad for you. I will even get upset with you if you don’t follow the rules that I set for you.”
Eventually, either the person at the receiving end completely loses his/her identity as an adult and cannot function independently as an adult, or the receiver starts to get stifled and wants to get out of the relationship simply to find his/her own independence.
7. I LOVE YOU…AND THEREFORE I WILL SACRIFICE MYSELF FOR MY LOVE!
“I love you and love is all about sacrifice. I will burn myself out and cease to exist in order to profess my love to you. That is how I shall keep proving to myself and to the world that I love you. I will keep giving and giving and giving and giving…till I am completely depleted.”
Eventually, this person ends up feeling he/she has done so much for the other but the partner hasn’t done anything in return. This person often feels like nobody loves him/her as much as they love others.
8. I LOVE YOU…AND THEREFORE I SHALL BE THE PERFECT PARTNER, SO THAT YOU WILL TAKE CARE OF ME!
“I need to be taken care of. I need lots of attention. I am lonely and lost. So I will please you in every way possible and never disappoint you, if you are going to take care of me. And at the slightest sign of you taking care of me, I will feel elated and ecstatic. Please take care of me. Please give me all the attention I need. I am so miserable and helpless. I need you. I can’t live without you. I love you.”
Eventually, this is a person who would appear to be very clingy and demanding from his/her partner. Can end up being a tiring and disappointing relationship.
9. I LOVE YOU…AND THEREFORE I NEED TO UPLIFT YOU!
“How can I love you if I have not healed your broken heart? How can I love you if I don’t make you a better person? Love is all about healing and uplifting the other. I am willing to be absolutely selfless and take all the pain you put me through. I will endure your rejection and lies, your irresponsible and unreliable behaviour, all because I know that you need someone who can love you and help you heal. I will be your therapist and counselor. And that is how I shall prove my love to you.”
Eventually, these people become the perpetual givers and their partner is the perpetual taker in the relationship. A very one sided relationship.
10. I LOVE YOU…AND THEREFORE I POSSESS YOU!
“I love you and you belong to me. You can’t abandon me. You can’t leave me. You can’t ignore me or reject me even for a moment. I need you with me and I won’t let anything in this world separate you from me. I shall question and suspect you every time you have to go away from me. I shall question and suspect anyone who tries to get a tad too close to you. I love you and therefore you are mine!”
Eventually, this can be pretty suffocating and the partner can feel like they are stuck with their loved one.
These are just some common interpretations of love that I have come across through my work. I am sure there are many more interpretations, versions and definitions of love.
And I would invite you to reflect and look at your own patterns in Love.
~ How do you Love your partner/parent/sibling/friend?
~ What are the little things that you do in the name of Love?
~ What are the little things that you expect in the name of Love?
Please do share with me in the comments section if you have experienced or observed a different interpretation of love from this list I have mentioned. I would love to hear from you.