What Love Isn’t

At the beginning of this week, I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine on the topic of heartbreak. Though not a topic I’ve discussed in awhile, it brought a lot of memories to mind as I recollected on my past. Then today as I was driving to volleyball I heard the song Love Ain’t by Eli Young Band on the radio. The song portrays what love is by giving examples of what “love ain’t.” It had me thinking even more deeply on the topic. Add this with the knowledge that this weekend marks six months of married bliss — something which I once could only dream of achieving — I formulated my own version of what love is not.

Playing off the idea from the song Love Ain’t, I began to take note of instances in my past which I thought were love but turned out to be a mirage. Fleeting and forced feelings, endless questions, and a myriad of memories where silver-linings are hard to find.  With all these circulating thoughts, I began to consider the misguidance and mishaps of my past which shaped what love truly means to me.

My love-journey captures a variety of things: from snippets of hurt I’ve seen in my friends’ lives to the pain of my own, as well as my own failings in relationships and regrets of what I could have done instead. Pain is unavoidable through Life, but I’ve always aimed to learn from the hurt. Without knowing what love isn’t, I would never have discovered what love is. As I move forward with joy over the true love I have found and relish in knowing the pain it took to realize what I deserved, here is my own version of what love is not…

Tears are meant for sad movies or happy occasions, and wine can be used to forget. Rebounding is allowed in basketball. You can save a space on your plate for dessert. Use a cabin to getaway, use yoga to reset. But one thing that is never a cure for loneliness or measure of escape from your past? Love.

Love is not something that must first start with someone else. It is not magic for the mirror. It is not an antidote for the heart or mind. It is not a one-size-fits-all fix.

Love is not a remedy when you find yourself alone. Love is also not a status quo or a way to keep up appearances and stack your popularity ratings.

Love is not what you should have by such-and-such a time. It is not the missing piece to your happiness. It is not your only reason to be alive.

Love isn’t questioning your worth every time he has a bad day. And it’s not asking, “What more can I do for you?” when he cancels another date.

Love is not being at his beck and call, or dropping what you’re doing as soon as he finally asks to see you. It’s not wondering why his friends, family, dogs, sports, job, hobbies, health, car, or the bar push you down the list of priorities. Love is not a reflection in the mirror with an open question as to what more you can be. And love is definitely not changing who you are to fit the mold he has set for his ideal partner.

Love isn’t a quickly beating heart as you read another cryptic text. It’s not mixed signals and trying to “break a code.” Love is not worrying yourself to death.

Love should never mean you struggle to know where you stand. Are you together today? Can you call him now? Does he want to hear from you? Love should never be stressed.

Love isn’t changing Valentine’s to Galentine’s because your date canceled the day before. It’s not wearing that new dress alone as you sip drinks to a text dated 5 minutes past your meeting time, “I don’t think I’m going to make it after all.” Love isn’t having plans but changing them when something better comes along.

Love is not forgetful.

Love is not resentful.

Love is not spiteful.

Love is not a place-card holder while waiting to see if feelings arise. Especially not while chatting up other girls in case there may be sparkles in their eyes. Love does not give up easily or walk away with no care. “The grass is always greener,” they say when things turn dark and dim. But before moving on, you might try fertilizing and sprinkling water from your own tin.

Love is not jealous. Love does not question every motive and contemplate every word. It does not entrap or possess. It is not narrow-minded. It is not short-sighted.

Love is not looking for a mistake to be made or a toe to step out of line, and love is not fear of consequences in those moments your humanity shows through. It is not constantly demanding apologies and never asking to forgive. Love does not condescend, rolling eyes instead of cheering on. Love does not mock the highs or scoff at the lows. It does not focus on every failing. It does not see every character flaw.

Love is not yelling when you’re drunk and begging forgiveness the next day. Love is not holding your tongue and always watching what you say. Neither is love shrinking back from an angrily raised hand, nor is it sitting idly by when you need to make a stand.

Love is not purely physical. Love is not purely beautiful. And Love is never perfect.

Most importantly, love is not painful. Love will not cause harm knowingly nor will it hurt to prove a point. Love will not leave you on the floor, crying, and wondering why. It does not cause turmoil or stress or heartache. If you’re finding your love is causing hurt or coming at a great physical cost… Then you need to question what is in your life, because that is not love.

Love can be a lot of things, but there’s also a lot it cannot.

When it comes to love, it is not easy. Love is a messy, trialing road. But with persistence, patience, and selflessness, love wins. You’ll have to put aside some of yourself to be obliging to another, but love will never ask you to change the very foundation of who you are.

Find a love you deserve. Find a love who deserves you. 

If you’d like to hear Eli Young Band’s song, here it is: 

To G, the love of my life, I am so thankful to have found my matching soul. Here’s to a lifelong winding road with you by my side. 



Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

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