Love is complicated. There are so many different factors affecting the label, and the people involved with the label, and it can be confusing to know what’s important and what’s not.
Generally speaking, love (and a healthy relationship involving love) requires a few separate considerations:
- Honesty: The partners have to be honest with each other – whether there are 2 people involved or 20.
- Trust: Because honesty doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t believe it.
- Respect: If you don’t respect your partner as a person, you’re not going to respect her as a lover – and that’s a fact.
- Loyalty: Truly “love” is the person you want to keep committing yourself to. Even in an open relationship, someone you love is going to be someone you continue to choose, time after time.
- Sexual Compatibility: I’m not saying love is all about sex – but it’s important that the partners be on the same wavelength. An asexual and a hypersexual are not going to be compatible for obvious reasons.
- Attraction: It doesn’t matter whether it’s physical, emotional, or intellectual. There has to be some type of attraction in place or you won’t have love.
- Communication: It doesn’t necessarily have to be face-to-face. I’ve had long-distance partners I loved, but we never went long periods of time without speaking.
- Timing: The often overlooked factor. If you don’t have time for love, you won’t have love. This is the factor we’re going to be exploring a little more in-depth today.
How important is timing, really?
Nothing in life can happen if there’s not the time for it to happen. I believe that everything happens exactly when it’s meant to, and that means if it’s not the right time – it’s not the right time.
Timing is absolutely essential and many people don’t give it the credit it needs.
Need some hypothetical examples?
Sometimes the easiest way to see an opinion is to have a picture drawn for you. I’m going to try to do just that, with a few different scenarios that could possibly apply.
1. If you’re already in a relationship.
Picture this: You’ve been with your current girlfriend for about two years now. You love her, but you’re not “in love” with her. Then someone comes along and they’re everything you hoped for. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with your current partner, but maybe you’ve got an urge to explore what could be. The greener side of the fence, if you will.
Is it a good time to pursue this new interest? Individual answers will vary, but the general idea is that you probably shouldn’t pursue this person until things with your partner have been completely resolved. Otherwise, you’d be cheating, which shows a lack of loyalty, a lack of respect, a lack of communication, a lack of honesty, and a breach of trust.
Suddenly the timing makes a bit more of a difference, right?
This obviously doesn’t address the idea of an open relationship, because in theory it is possible to have multiple loves without sacrificing your communication and honesty for any of them. Instead, we’re talking about “committed” monogamous relationships here.
Timing is a fickle thing. If you choose to refuse the ways to “beat timing” and instead wait for your relationship to end before pursuing this new interest… Well, the timing has won. (And that’s not a bad thing!)
2. If you’re too busy.
It’s not just about being in another relationship, though. Maybe the timing problem is that you are working 3 jobs. You love this person, but your loyalty is at the mercy of your money. I tend to paint myself into this category a lot, because I’m a bit of a workaholic. (In fact, I just discussed with my partner this morning about the prospect of taking on more work, when officially my time is booked.)
Can you truly offer yourself fully to your partner if you prioritize your job (or jobs) over your relationship?
This can be a slippery slope, definitely – perhaps it’s my own sense of obsessive work ethic, but I don’t really turn down work in favor of my partner, either. I’ve never been able to do that and I completely can’t wrap my head around why anyone would.
I do, however, make a point to seek my partner’s input when considering my options. I won’t let her “make me” turn down the work, but it counts as a tally on that side when I’m weighing the pros and cons. I respect her opinions because I love her. And she trusts me enough to know that, if I take on the work she doesn’t think I should, it’s because I think it will help us both.
3. If you’re not at the same maturity level.
Something else I think that many people overlook is that it’s not just about age – it’s possible to be more mature than someone who is older than you (I’ve had that happen) or less mature than someone who’s younger than you (I haven’t been on that side of things just yet). Maturity and age are not mutually exclusive, any more than biological sex and gender identity are. Sure, they might go hand-in-hand most of the time – but there are always exceptions.
A few years ago, I briefly dated a woman who was almost six years my senior. That’s not a very large age difference, but it seemed even greater once I factored in how much further along in life I felt that I was. I was ready to settle down with a single person, and she was not. I was living on my own and responsible for my own financial decisions, and she was not. But she had a child to take care of (a nephew), and this did factor in to some of these things.
Honestly, maturity level is a subjective thing. Different people will value different priorities in life, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In my own case, I value independence as a factor in determining maturity, but not everyone feels the same way. But to me, the timing was off because I felt like I was in a different point in my life.
While this feels like a timing issue, it’s actually a respect issue.
If you are looking at a potential partner and you feel that they aren’t mature enough for you, this is a lack of respect (although subconscious). We tend to think that someone must not have any priorities if they’re not the same as ours, and we say it’s because we’re just at different points in our life.
Intrinsically, I think it’s more about incompatibility than it is about time.
There are some people who never “mature” in the general sense of the word. If they maintain this is a timing problem, it’ll never be “the right time”. Instead, they should be focusing on someone who has the same values, priorities, and expectations as them. Waiting around for someone to change isn’t a valuable use of your time, and truly it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Moreover, by calling it a time problem instead of what it really is – a lack of respect – you are essentially granting yourself permission to say you love someone without actually loving them. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair to you. Your denial could lead to further problems down the road when you can’t see how you’re disrespecting your partner once you do have one.
That all sounds really negative.
Well, yes. Sometimes love is negative. If it’s all rainbows and butterflies and sunshine, you wouldn’t value the good things. Love is not just a single complicated choice, it’s a bunch of difficult decisions that you keep making every single day. Some might even say that love fits the definition for insanity (and I’d be inclined to agree).
But what I’m hoping for is that you will start to evaluate your own relationships, whether they have progressed to “love” or not, and see if there isn’t something you could be doing. Rarely is anyone in a relationship perfect, and believing that there is such a thing is another form of dishonesty.
Reach out in the comments – share your story, add your input, and let us know what you think.