If you loved me, you would…
Oh, what a dangerous phrase. It’s a phrase that can hold two people hostage in a relationship far beyond the expiration date…and a phrase that can destroy a perfectly fabulous and potentially long-lasting partnership. It’s a phrase that, even when removed from our vocabulary, can sneak into our thoughts when we aren’t ever vigilant.
And even if you don’t use it, your well-meaning friends might:
If he really loved you, he would introduce you to his friends and family.
If he really loved you, he would want to move in.
If he really loved you, he would ask you to marry him.
It’s a phrase based on expectations…and a phrase that encourages irrelevant generalities. Every human being is unique and complex, and every relationship is a constantly evolving microbiome of insecurities, traumas, passions, and bleeding hearts.
It’s a phrase that’s hard to escape when you’ve been raised on a diet of Disney fairytales and happily-ever-after rom-coms. But it’s an entirely mathematical phrase that has no place in the flow and flux of the relationship sphere.
The conditionality of the if-then phrase…
…is inherently unromantic. Let’s look at the construction:
If (a), then (b).
The if phrase (a) is the hypothesis—If I work hard…
The then phrase (b) is the conclusion—then I will get a good job.
Conditional statements such as these aren’t necessarily true. You can work your butt off and not get a good job in today’s economy. And the same applies to the rules of the heart, which, more often than not, don’t follow deductive reasoning.
But it’s a handy phrase to fall back on when sorting through the muddiness of a relationship. It gives us an outline for analysis. Let’s fit his/her behavior in the if-then box to try to find a reason for that behavior, so that we can figure out how to deal.
There would be no market for the love gurus out there, if the if-then phrase didn’t exist.
If he isn’t calling, then he’s not really that into you.
If only everyone were the same, then that might be true. But “he” (or “she”) has his own wounds, defaults, insecurities, and circumstances, and his behavior is not going to fit into the conditionality of your if-then thinking. Just like your if-then expectation isn’t going to fit into the intricacy of his life.
Best to do away with if-then thinking all together. But that can be easier said than done. Lately, my mind has been consumed with if-thens, and I’m having a really hard time reasoning my way away from them. For instance…
If the love I thought was extra-ordinary can become a cliché, then is it a love worth having at all?
I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. I’d spin fantastical romance plots, all starring me of course, at such a young age. Entire rom-coms played in my head to songs like “Sister Christian” and “St. Elmo’s Fire.” I have believed so fervently that one day I would find my soulmate love…but here I am once again, sans soulmate…at least for now.
You’d think I’d catch on. Get a little jaded. But every single time I start up with a man, I go in with such high hopes and confidence, it’s like it’s my first rodeo. No transference for this girl. The past stays in the past and the future is bright. This is probably because Neptune is opposite Venus in my astrological chart. That means I make stories up in my head and have a hard time distinguishing what’s real versus unreal in romance. Oops.
And now I’m at a crossroads. My entire worldview of love is in danger of shifting.
The love I thought was extra-ordinary has turned into a cliché. What do I do with that?
Through all my failed romances I have learned how to love, and love well. I have so much love to give…but I have yet to find a partner who can take it. Who can cherish it. Who can fight for it and who can stand by it. But perhaps that’s my Venus-Neptune aspect talking, and that expectation in a partner is mere delusion. Perhaps my if-then muscle is so hyper-flexed, it leaves no room for the “real” of a relationship.
So, do I hold space for the kind of love you can take for granted? The kind of love you can give up and take back again when the future happens to clear a path? Do I allow for that more “real” type of love, a love that does not fit into sweeping “if-then” conditionals but instead summons an unconditional acceptance of what is and what is not according to your lover’s personality and world…or do I cling to perhaps an unrealistic belief in an extra-ordinary love that gives as much as it takes, and flows from he to she for eternity? A love that never lets go. Because if he really loved me, he would…