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Navigating love

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

If there is one topic which connects us all, it would be that of love. It is an ocean of emotions experienced in limitless degrees and levels. We can give it, receive it, lose it, and find it; all within what can seem like a blink of any eye. Yet how can something so universal and instrumental to human existence leave many perplexed in its wake? And why are some so jaded by its effects they choose to nearly obliterate it from their vocabulary?

It’s simple to understand why there are so many struggles, as well as rewards when it comes to love. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has over 13 different entries for its meanings. However, since each person has a slightly different notion of what it means, it is far more likely to produce many more nuances and intensities, adding to the complexities and distinctions of its endless connotations.

Levels of Love

In modern usage, the word “love” is being used more frequently. This is neither a good nor a bad thing. It only means we need to be more aware of those different levels and inferences. When I was a child, I could love a pet, nature, or even sports. The only time I would use the word love toward a human was when it was directed to my immediate family. I was uncomfortable saying it to another human mainly because I maintained a very narrow view of its meaning. It was years later when my stepsons began saying it to me that I began to feel comfortable enough using it with others.

In many ways, love has evolved to take on a broader range of feelings. It can be as subtle as liking something or as intense as intimate passion. Loving some “thing” versus some “one” certainly implies differences in the way we comprehend it. Who doesn’t love a breathtaking view of a beautiful mountain scene or a peaceful lake? Yet the emotional feeling we get from those views is nothing compared to loving our children or even our pets.

There are numerous ways to express these feelings, and “love” happens to be a popular choice for many. Even social media has made it convenient to use this word with contriving different colored hearts, heart-eyes, and kissing-gesture emojis.

Although one could believe this dilutes love’s definition, the argument can also be made it broadens its meaning. Whatever your outlook, it is important to understand the context in which it’s being used.

Most people inherently understand how the word love is being applied in casual conversation. The trouble begins when it is ambiguous or confusing ways. And because of love’s volatility, we often are afraid to ask for clarification.

Love’s Context

Misinterpretation happens when we insert our own definition of love into the context in which we are hearing it. When others use it with a slightly different inference, we can easily make an incorrect assumption and misconstrue what is being said.

Ironically, this causes more confusion in the most intimate of our relationships. However, one characteristic of strong relationships is the ability to get a better understanding and clarity during your conversations.

Since the word “love” is becoming more prevalent in every form of communication, it’s vital we can discern those distinctions both when it’s directed at us or when using it toward others.

The Undertow

Unfortunately, many have had experiences with love which have polluted and all but ruined their desire to love anymore. Perhaps everyone has suffered an experience where love let them down or worse, nearly drowned them. While some were able to rebound from their misfortune, others were hurt so badly they questioned whether they would ever want to attempt it again.

It is horrible how some have used love as a tool to batter and abuse others. This was never its intended purpose, and I can certainly sympathize with those who feel they were defeated by it.

If you have come close to giving up on love or are about to abandon it, my plea is you’ll listen carefully to what I’m about to say.

One of the basic principles of love is trust. Every relationship, no matter how brief or long, survives and thrives because of mutual trust. Conversely, most broken hearts are caused because that trust was broken.

In order to love again, there are 2 concepts you must be willing to accept. The first is you must be willing to trust again, and the second is the consenting to the possibility that trust may once more be damaged. These are extremely tough decisions. No one savors the excruciating pain from broken trust but it’s the peril associated any time we agree to trust.

Relationships, no matter how long or strong, consent to that risk every day. There always exists the possibility of one person no longer being in that relationship. Although it may not be a trust issue, it could be a tragic event or heartbreaking diagnosis which results in this unpredictable change. Regardless, that does not prohibit the relationship from happening, and if you’ve had trust issues, it will be something you’ll need to overcome.

Having trust in someone requires a certain amount of vulnerability. Your heart will be susceptible to being hurt. It’s the inescapable gamble paired with trust. It is not a given your trust will be damaged and the longer your trust builds the less likely it will occur, but the probability of it ending still exists and there is no eluding it.

Fortunately, there is an antidote when love’s trust is broken. It’s not a complete cure, but it will help you heal from the hurt and provide the courage needed to trust and love again.

Surprisingly, it’s the one aspect of love we have not covered and that is loving yourself. Loving yourself develops a sense of self-compassion and dignity. Although a broken heart will always be painful, nonetheless, self-love elevates your confidence and can help restore the wound left in your heart.

Next week, we’ll delve more into self-love and other aspects of love which will help navigate this perplexing and most vital emotion.

My thanks to by Quino Al on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.

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