It’s the season of love once again! Who are you going out with to dinner tonight? If you haven’t gotten that bouquet of roses or box of chocolates you’ve been expecting from your special someone yet, trust me, I know exactly how you are feeling right now.
I don’t know where you’re reading this article from right now, but I’m pretty sure that wherever you are you feel the spirit of love in the air. You remember that moment when you were in high school, when everyone comes to school excited on Valentine’s Day. People exchange roses, hand-made personalized greeting cards, expensive musical cards (yes, I still got one of those, that’s how old I am) and cute teddy bears with lace ribbons around their necks. Hopeless romantics take the opportunity to say “I love you” to the person they’ve been wanting to say those words to in years, hoping to get (no, not quite what I have in mind, silly) a date in the evening.
It was fun, and a little bit too commercialized. Prices of flowers rise, like they do on All Saints’ Day in the Philippines, and gift shops are enjoying higher profits and sales this time of year, like they do in December all over the world. Sometimes the focus tends to be on gift-giving and romantic love, we don’t even care if it’s true love. It’s easier to say, “Who cares. It feels great, therefore it must be love.”
Is there really a sure way to know if it’s true love? In my daily interaction with young people, I had the chance to ask them how they can tell if the person they’re dating or want to date or in a relationship with really loves them. Here are some of their answers:
“It’s true love when he puts my happiness and welfare above his.”
“If she truly loves me, she will do anything for me.”
“I’m not in a relationship right now, but there’s this girl that I really like and if she would give me the chance, I would do everything to make her happy.”
You walk into these kids’ classrooms and talk to them about the theory of relativity, they fall asleep. But you talk to them about love, they’re on the edge of their seats and they come alive. Of course everyone wants to find their truest true love, who doesn’t? But years of experience have taught me that sometimes this desire to find true love springs from either our secret fear of abandonment or our need to be needed.
Internationally acclaimed life and success coach Gina DeVee said we can’t go looking for that someone who can love us more than we love we love ourselves, and I think she’s right. We can never give what we don’t have.
Years of marriage taught me a lot. When my husband and I first met, we thought it was true love, until life dished us out its worst. Today, eight years after, I’m confident we both love each other several times more than we did when we first met. I know this because today I learned how to love myself better without fear; I learned how to put my happiness and well being as my first priority and how not to put the responsibility of making me happy on my husband’s shoulders. When I know how to love and take care of myself, I know how to love and take care of rest of my family. Similarly, I don’t get jealous when my husband would say his top priority is his sobriety and not me because I know that taking care of his sobriety means taking good care of himself and when he knows how to take care of himself, then he must also know how to take care of other people.
This doesn’t mean we’ve found the secret to true and lasting love and happiness; it merely means we have gradually found the courage to face possibilities and the willingness to learn.
So when they tell you they love you and can’t even clip their fingernails, you have every reason to doubt.
Go ahead, love like you’ve never been hurt, but don’t ever be afraid to say, “The biggest love of my life is myself.”