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Have you ever wondered why relationships end in heartbreak? Frequently, people fall in love and break up for one and the same reason.
People fall in love because of a strong desire to be loved. They break up when they are faced with their or their partner’s inability to love. The challenge of loving well is that people need to be loved for who they are, not for their level of performance. Believers in Jesus will grow in their ability to love, but there are no guarantees of a perfect love. Only God is capable of that. Pursue a romantic relationship because of what a partner can realistically offer based on who God made him or her to be. Seeking a partner while hoping for what is unrealistic only perpetuates an illusion of love.
Don’t Fall in Love Based on an Illusion
An illusion of love is enough to draw you into a relationship, but it’s not enough to keep you in the relationship. You will feel awesome when you first connect with someone and feel mutual appreciation. The initial connection is extremely important, but it’s only one essential part of a healthy relationship.
What fuels the illusion of love? Because you need love, it’s easy to assume your partner must have the maturity to provide it. Don’t confuse your need for love with your partner’s ability to provide love. Character is revealed over time under both ideal and tragic circumstances. It’s easy to fall in love with being in love, especially when it’s portrayed as a magical experience. We see it in movies, read about it in books, and hear about it in love songs. This idealized version of love sets a painful trap that can be difficult to resist and equally difficult to escape.
When you fall for what you imagine a person can offer before truly knowing a person, you set yourself up for disappointment. You can build up unrealistic expectations and project your desires onto your partner, hoping he or she can fulfill your every need. You can become so fixated on this idealized version of love that you fail to see the person in front of you for who he or she truly is.
This illusion of love can also prevent you from seeing the red flags or warning signs that may indicate an unhealthy relationship. You may ignore your gut instincts, dismiss any concerns, and believe that things will work out in the end if you’re mesmerized by love’s potential. You can become so invested in the fantasy that you lose sight of the reality.
To Really Fall in Love, Become Disillusioned
The desire for love can cause you to reject the reality that you and your partner are flawed and imperfect beings. You may place your partner on a pedestal and hold him or her accountable for your emotional well-being, disregarding your partner’s needs and limitations.
Your unmet emotional needs can serve as a catalyst for disillusionment. When you enter into a partnership, you often bring with you a set of expectations and desires, hoping that your partner will fulfill them. These needs may vary from person to person, but they can range from wanting emotional support and validation to seeking constant attention and affection.
Relying solely on your partner to meet all of your emotional needs can create a recipe for disappointment. No one person can be everything to you, and expecting your partner to be sets you up for failure. While it is important for a healthy relationship to provide emotional support and meet certain needs, it is equally vital to recognize that each individual has their own limitations and cannot fulfill every desire.
When your emotional needs go unmet, it can lead to feelings of loneliness, frustration, and even resentment. You may start to question the strength of your connection, wondering why your partner isn’t fulfilling your expectations. This disillusionment can create a rift in the relationship, eroding the foundation of love that seemed strong at one time. This can lead to relationship recycling–giving up on the current person in your life to find another that can keep the illusion of perfect love alive.
Instead, go with the disillusionment because it prepares you to see reality. Understanding that your partner is a flawed individual, just like you, enables you to approach your partner with more understanding and acceptance. It allows you to have realistic expectations and to appreciate your partner’s unique qualities, instead of constantly comparing him or her to an unattainable ideal.
Fall in Love with Jesus Before You Fall in Love
Jesus is our all-knowing, all-loving God who can provide the comfort, understanding, and unconditional love that we long for. In this way, He embodies the qualities we desire in a partner.
Knowing God is the perfect person can lead you to expect your partner to live up to impossible standards. Because you have such a desire for love, it is normal to expect that someone should be capable of loving you. If you emerge from childhood without having experienced enough love, you can unconsciously shift your expectations to your partner. You might know that God is loving, but project your idealized image of Him onto your partner, expecting him or her to provide the love, patience, and understanding you desperately need.
Instead, fall in love with the reality that God is the ultimate source of love. He makes others’ love for us possible. Allow God to love you through other people besides only your partner. Seek support from outside your relationship, such as from friends, family, or therapists, to fulfill certain needs that cannot be met by only your partner.
When you fall in love, the initial infatuation is not enough by itself to prevent heartbreak. Only relationships infused with God’s love have the strength to go the distance. By knowing Jesus as the source of love, you can liberate yourself from relationship recycling and discover genuine contentment.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.