Love is so complicated that it’s tempting to believe other people’s love stories – but in the end we just have to write our own and work out what love is for ourselves.
I’ve been writing about and making videos about love but each one has always ended up by saying that love isn’t this or love isn’t that or that it’s all more complicated. That’s because love is biopsychosocial (bio-psycho-social – remember this, it will impress your mates) – it’s not just one thing.
It’s biopsychosocial, innit?
- It’s partly biology – what happens to our bodies and brains when we love someone (those micro-moments).
- It’s partly psychological – how we feel about love, what we want love for (or to do for us) and our own experience of love (or not having it).
- It’s partly sociological – the expectation that we all have to love someone of a different gender to us, the happily ever after, ‘we all need someone‘, that it’s all about romantic love and that it has to include sex.
When we love all these things fit together but also overlap and change because of each other.
So this explains why:
- when someone ‘perfect’ comes along we just don’t feel it, even though everyone says that they are the perfect match for us (the ‘social’ is there but the ‘bio and the ‘psych’ aren’t)
- when we are really attracted to someone that we know isn’t right for us (the bio is there but the social says no you shouldn’t, the psych bit might find that a bit of a turn on)
- when we really ‘love’ someone we aren’t that into or they aren’t into us (the psych is telling us we really want to feel love and loved, the social is saying we all need someone, but the bio isn’t there)
Love is really complicated so it’s tempting to simplify it to make it easier
Love can be so complex and confusing it’s really tempting to simplify things by believing in what they tell us in rom-coms or in song lyrics. Or to wait for the random bolt of lightning or force field of energy. Or to wait for ‘The One’ who will make all this really easy and simples. But then believing in these things is not helpful and can make love and relationships harder, not easier. It can also result in unhappy or unhealthy relationships.
Now For Some Actual Advice
We all find this stuff out for ourselves (even sex educators) and it doesn’t get any easier, but here’s my advice on how to understand love for you.
Try not to compare yourself
Comparing ourselves to anything often makes us feel bad about ourselves and our relationships because they don’t match up to what we think we *should* be doing. Seeing how other people’s relationships work might be useful for us to learn from, but remember that we are only seeing a small part of it. See also comparing our selves with other people – when we do this we are comparing our insides (where all of our anxieties and negative thoughts about ourselves are) to everyone else’s outsides.
Remember that rom-coms are not real life and comparing yourself to them can make you really miserable. Be the lead character in your own stories about love and romance and accept that there are going to be ups and downs as well as a lot of stuff in the middle which might not be that interesting or dramatic #romantic
Think about *you* and what *you* want
Think about what you need in life. Hugs, support, security, safety, money, comfort, sex – which of these might a romantic partner provide? Which do you get from friends, family, colleagues? Which do you get for yourself?
Think about your qualities: your best bits and the bits you want to work on. Think about who you might be attracted to – someone a bit like you or someone a bit more different.
Once you’ve found someone you want
Where and how are you going to meet people they might fancy. Are you going to meet them at school, work, in a social situation or online? Are you going to be looking for someone or wait for someone to find them you (or a bit of both)? Think about how you want to react to those micro-moments of connection when they happen and what they might mean for you. Are they love, is it flirting? How can you get to know someone and see if you really like them and to see whether they really like you too.
Imagine how you might be together: do you work side by side as a team, do you learn from each other and merge bits of your characters, are you a very couply couple or are you just as happy doing things separately?
If you’re in a relationship it can be lovely to hear someone say that they love you, but maybe pay more attention to what you think is important in a healthy relationship. There are some ideas about this here.
Remember that love isn’t just about what people say but what about people do too. Some people use the word love to make someone do something they don’t want to do (“if you loved me you’d do this”) or to cover up for the fact that the relationship isn’t going very well.
Lastly as you’re writing your own script remember that it is always changing. As you experience fancying/liking/loving more you’ll learn more about yourself and what you want. Try to learn all the time and remember that it’s always going to be complicated.
© Justin Hancock, 2015