Several weeks ago, I posted this status to my personal Facebook page after an especially trying experience with someone who is very important in my life. Over the last few weeks, this one sentiment has been the topic of many conversations that I’ve had with those around me, as the truth in it resonated with many.
So, what does it mean?
My parents divorced when I was 13 years old, after 15 years together. There were several things that “caused” their split (none of which I’ll detail here), but at the base of it, it was obvious to everyone around them that they loved each other. This fact made their breakup especially painful for me, and kept me wishing and hoping until I was well into adulthood that my parents would get it together and get back together one day.
Spoiler alert: they didn’t.
I’ve often heard people say, “Someone desiring you is not the same as someone valuing you,” and for a long time, I didn’t understand what this meant. I have always been a hopeless romantic, and dreamed about the kind of love that I’ve read about in the many books I’ve lost myself in growing up. For me, it was all very simple – if you love someone, then you’re with them and that’s all there is to it. My parents loved each other long after their divorce, so why couldn’t they make things work?
It wasn’t until I was an adult and navigating my way through my own relationships that I understood that sometimes love really isn’t enough to sustain a relationship – romantic or otherwise. Humans are complex creatures and we all have different needs. However, one of the things that we all require in order to have a successful relationship with someone is to be shown the respect that comes with knowing that person values you.
And, unfortunately, these things are not necessarily mutually inclusive.
I’ve been party to relationships (both romantic and platonic) in which I always felt a certain level of dissatisfaction with the way that I was treated. At times, the other person in the relationship would gaslight me into believing that I “was being difficult” or “wanted too much”, and that they “loved me” so why wasn’t that enough?
The answer is simple – love is easy. Love doesn’t require much effort because it happens naturally. That doesn’t negate the importance of love in a relationship dynamic; it just means that there’s more to it than that. The thing about successful relationships is that they are built on more than “just” love.
A sustainable connection to someone requires time and effort and a commitment to understanding him/her/them. And when someone demonstrates to you that they aren’t interested in putting in the work to establish and maintain that type of connection, they’ve shown you that they don’t value your place in their life.
My parents were like that – they loved each other dearly. However, it got to a point where my mother no longer felt that she was valued in the relationship, even beginning to question her value to herself. Instead of allowing those feelings to take root long term, though, she decided to make a change for herself and leave the toxic situation. She (and her children) were better for it in the long run, although it was very painful at the time.
I’ve learned from my mother, and from watching other people’s relationships and interactions over my lifetime, that we truly do teach people how to treat us by what we choose to accept, and people show us how important they are by the things that they say and do to us. The person who prompted the status that you see above did so by demonstrating to me that he did not find value in me – and I responded by moving away from the person and situation. While he may not find enough value in me to treat me the way I desire and deserve to be treated, I do see that value in myself. And because of that, I am unwilling to settle for anything less than my standard of acceptable treatment.
Ultimately, that is the most important thing – when we recognize the value of what we bring to a relationship, we understand how detrimental it is to accept someone who reduces our value in order to fit into what’s comfortable for them. Real love doesn’t look like that – real respect doesn’t do that.
And if it isn’t the real thing, then what’s the point?
Love and light – Kioshana