You’ve flirted, dated, mated and hated. There are gaps in your love life. What’s going on and why can’t he or she meet your expectations? What about that nagging question in your mind, or of your mouthy friends, that it’s time to move on from the unresponsive person?
Love is a Verb
You might need to backtrack a bit, and to define love. Love is a verb, an action-oriented word. It implies making sacrifices for the other person, placing their needs on high priority and acting on it. Loving someone equals the desire to build them up, to support them in their endeavors, to “give” to them. If that’s not how you or the other person in your life regard each other, you might be involved in a “What’s in it for me?” relationship. It’s a misery that affects parents who don’t feel that way about their children, friendships, plus spouses and lovers who don’t feel that way about the other adult in their intimate or dating life. Let’s focus on the love lives among adults, and how to know when it might be time to answer the question, “Should you move on?”
Steven Covey, the author of Highly Effective People, once remarked about his failing marriage to an acquaintance. Covey said that he lacked his former passion and feelings about his wife. His listener insisted that the solution was to “love her,” but Covey was baffled by the advice. The acquaintance then remarked “My friend, love is a verb. Love — the feeling — is a fruit of love — the verb. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?” The response endorsed the idea that it’s never too late to salvage a relationship. It failed, however, to account for abusive or time-limited relationships that lack firm foundations.
What’s love got to do with it? The sex is great!
Too many therapists familiar with the “But the sex is great!” failed relationship model can share insights into the problem. The bottom line is that true love is based on mutual respect, the willingness to grow beyond one’s limitations as we make emotional and physical investments in our partner. Love means a reluctance to hurt your partner; that you go out of your way to phrase ideas pleasantly rather than negatively, to smooth out rough spots in ways that they’d appreciate.
When the relationship is based on trivialities such as looks, sex, opportunism, harsh words, and/or the manipulation of either “loved one,” then “love” is not the correct word for the situation. That reality check can be very confusing to anyone in need of relationship therapy. They might be certain that the tugs on their heart, mind and genitals are what love is all about. The truth is, though, that these situations are based on convenience, not on loving behavior. It’s not a One-Size-Fits-All attachment mistake either. A private therapist can help the two individuals involved to better understand the unhealthy dynamics of their interactions even if the sex in their non-loving relationship is great.
Is it really over?
In many cases, a couple that once was no longer exists even if they continue to co-exist under the same roof and even one or both persons sees a relationship therapist. Sarcasm, foul language, wishing a partner misery, refusing to cooperate, plus physical and other abuse are signs that the relationship has unraveled. Therapy can resolve such situations in some cases, not all of them. If therapy does not help, indeed, it’s time to move on, to separate. Each partner can explore in therapy, and after it or the relationship ends, how and why each of person failed and how to improve oneself with those life lessons.
In cases when divorce, physical or financial separation are not feasible, a tormented life is quite likely in store for the couple and everyone who loves them. Many self-defeating marriages continue that way, according to research.