I’m of those people that thinks love hurts, so I try to keep it out of my way. Unfortunately, I’m also one of those cynical romantics with a massive heart and an overwhelming capacity for affection. Also, I don’t ‘fight for love.’ You don’t have to fight for what’s yours. But … I’m realising there’s a difference between ‘fighting’ and ‘working’. Because love isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice. And sometimes, it takes a lot of effort to stick with what you chose, especially after the ‘feeling’ dies.

Sometimes, my seeming polarities confuse me. Because while I often come off as the warmest person in the room, I’m probably the coldest. I’ve always preferred to see myself as friendly but private, welcoming but isolated, a charming misanthropist.

But I’ve been exploring my psyche, with a lot of help from my best friend, and I’ve found that I really don’t care about people. My ‘niceness’ is a way to make up for that. In the past, people have accused me of being a ‘pretender’ and I took offense at that. Deep offense.

And yet … they were right. I need to see myself as nice. I need to feel morally superior. Because in my heart and soul, being ‘nice’ makes up for not giving a fuck about people in general. And I suppose that’s the worst form of pretending, because when the person realises I’ve stopped being ‘nice’, they start to wonder what they did to offend me.

Unrelated, romantic love isn’t the only thing that has a honeymoon. Other relationships do too. At work, at home, in platony … they all have a period where everything is sunshine and rainbows. That season lasts about 3 months, and then real life sets in. I’m realising that, because it explains my struggles in the past few weeks. One of my most important (non-romantic) relationships has hit a point where I have to work.

Because it was so easy before, I thought this forced labour meant the relationship was broken, and that it was only a matter of time before it faded away. Fortunately, my beloved is tenacious and kind, in the tough-love type of way, so we’ve agreed to both do the work. It’s not easy, but he’s worth it.

I suppose that’s what you really have to ask when you find yourself in that position. Is this person, this job, this situation … is it worth it? And am I gaining from it? Is there still value in this? That’s what he asked me. ‘Do you still see value in this? Because as long as you do, then we need to fight for this.’

That second portion is really important – the value. Because a lot of people in dangerous, abusive situations due to a mistaken conviction that it’s worth it. And you cant decide for someone when it’s time to go. Only they can do that.

Believe me, I know. I was in an abusive relationship for 7 years before I took my child and left. And until someone gets to that point, no amount of begging and pleading will move them. They might get out of the abusive physical space, but until they’ll fully ready, they’ll just keep coming back.

In my case, he makes me happy, and he makes me better. And even when he’s making me sad, he still makes me better. Yes, I realise it’s unhealthy to make someone else the reason for your happiness or sadness. You’re supposed to be your own reason for sit. But here we are, and I love him for it.

My current situation isn’t abusive. It’s not even romantic. It’s just challenging. This deep meaningful, platonic personhood used to be effortless and easy, but now it’s hard, and it hurts. A lot. It’s also one of the most important relationships in my life. And I still see the value, so as hard as it it, I’m putting in the work. It feels good to know that I’m not working alone.

♫ Nowhere fast ♫ Mary J Blige ♫

126 thoughts on “Love is work

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