It was in counseling that Stephanie realized another significant impact of her abusive marriage. She thought that getting away from her husband would be enough to free her, but her mind was still trapped. He said abusive things like, “You are a fool,” “You can’t do anything right,” and “You are worthless,” she now repeated in her head. Worse yet, her perception of love radically changed.
She now saw love as dangerous, confining, and vulnerable, yet she longed to be loved again. The roots of her poor perception of love were not just the result of an abusive marriage, it also stemmed from her childhood. Her alcoholic mother never attached to her so Stephanie was constantly looking for love from all the wrong people. This left her susceptible to an abusive husband.
Unfortunately, Stephanie had twisted definitions of love born out of dysfunctional parenting and an abusive marriage. These erroneous perceptions of love did significant damage to her and her relationships. Some of the lies may even be hidden in seemingly innocent remarks. So Stephanie decided to write out the lies that cause the destruction of a loving relationship.
- “I’ll show you love when you do what I ask.” Lie: Love is conditional. Lasting love is not based on a person’s performance. Rather, it is grounded in seeing the best in someone despite what they may do. But this doesn’t mean that abusive behavior should be tolerated. Boundaries can be established for safety and a person can be loved from a distance without it being conditional.
- “If I didn’t love you, I won’t be so mean.” Lie: Love is cruel. Truth can be spoken in a kind and non-hurtful manner without damaging a person’s ego, generating fear, or destroying an image. A person in a truly loving relationship should experience more thoughtfulness, compassion, and kindness than a friend or stranger might receive.
- “If you love me you will do it now.” Lie: Love is impatient. Demanding immediate compliance, being intolerant of other’s timing, or getting annoyed/irritated by another person is not love. Not everyone has the same pace in life. Loving someone means being tolerant of the person’s speed which is usually determined by personality, trauma, and motivation.
- “You love the kids more than me.” Lie: Love is jealous. Comparing love for one person over another is dangerous. The love a parent feels for a child is not the same as the love for a friend, spouse, parent, or even pet. Each has different weights and significance. Accepting love from a person means finding satisfaction in their ability to express it without jealous demands.
- “When you show me love, I’ll show it back.” Lie: Love itemizes. Keeping a record of rights vs. wrongs in a relationship does not show love. Rather, it places the relationship on a ledger where a person constantly has to prove their value in comparison to another. This wears a person out and exhausts the relationship.
- “It doesn’t matter if you feel loved, it matters how I feel.” Lie: Love is selfish. In the ‘it’s all about me’ culture, the concept that love is not self-focused but other-focused is lost. Too often it is about what a person gets from a relationship not about what a person gives to the relationship that becomes the emphasis. This hinders the free expression of love.
- “You HAVE to love me!” Lie: Love is forceful. No one has to do anything. A person should have the freedom to choose to love and not feel it is an obligation. Mandating love limits the power of love to work in life and relationship. When forced, it becomes a destructive weapon that can leave a permanent scar.
- “I love you more than anyone else could.” Lie: Love brags. Anytime a person says this statement, it is more about the insecurity of the person speaking than the value of the person receiving the comment. This is designed to ‘put a person in their place’ as a form of unnatural submission. A person who loves someone a lot has no need to brag, their actions speak far louder than words.
- “If you love me you won’t brush your teeth that way.” Lie: Love nick-picks. On any given day, there are probably 1,000 things that a person can do in an annoying fashion. Focusing on these small items and demanding change is not loving the person for whom they are. True love overlooks the small infractions and sees the larger picture of a person’s character.
- “No one can love you because of what you have done (or who you really are).” Lie: Love is resentful. The saddest of the lies is the one which displays long-standing resentment and hurt. Granted there are some issues that may end a relationship but that doesn’t mean there needs to be bitterness going forward. If the relationship is to survive the pain, then the anger must be released, or it will cause its own end.
- “I’m going to leave because you don’t love me.” Lie: Love quits. Real love does not give up on another person. However, it might set safe boundaries to keep from getting hurt again in the future. Not giving up on a person means hopefulness remains regardless of the circumstances.
Most of these statements don’t arise when the conversation is normal and functioning. Rather, they tend to surface during a confrontation. It is when a person is under pressure that the true nature of their character and misguided beliefs about love are revealed.