Love probably is the most abused word in the world. What is love? When do you say that you love someone? Or that someone loves you?

Someone told me love is not being able to live without each other. Me thinks love is being able to live with each other!

Films, books, poems, ballads have all spoken about love as all consuming, omnipotent and omnipresent feeling. It is said to pervade all your senses and give you a natural high. Psychologically it is said to be a protective factor against depression.

But then what happens when love meets reality? The same love becomes the causative factor of all neurosis?

We all have an idealized concept of love. We have been brought up to believe that love is an over whelming feeling which will pervade all our senses and make us hallucinate (hearing bells and seeing hearts and smelling the person). What happens when none of this happens?

We grew up with the concept of happily ever after from our fairy tales to our folk lore to our movies. It often makes me wonder what happens after the last scene. Was Cinderella able to adjust to life as a queen? Did the prince and the princess have a good marriage? Did Raj and Simran get along after their marriage?

We all have a template of an ideal partner. We want that person to be our best friend, our parent, our kid, our therapist, our financial advisor etc. Unfortunately the constitution of our country does not allow polygamy. We get into a relationship with stars in our eyes and then someone switches on the lights.

Let us explore some of the myths of love.

The biggest one is Love is doing everything together. Never understood this one. I met a couple with this firm belief in their head. So they fought and bickered while doing things together. She liked sappy romantic movies while he liked action packed drama. She liked eating spicy food while he preferred something else. In their bargain to do everything together they just managed to have fights. Love is not about changing your choices. It is about respecting each others choices. Would things have been simpler if they watched the movies they liked separately with their own set of friends and then spent some time together doing what they really liked?

Another one is Love is understanding the unsaid. He/she should know what I am thinking because he/she loves me. None of us are mind readers (yeah not even your therapist, Thank God!). The whole point of language was to communicate your thought. If someone could understand what you wanted by just looking at you why would we need like a million languages (though school would have been so much easier without the language subjects). He/she should have understood does more damage than global warming.

Love is counting your blessings. This one is probably the most misunderstood one. Usually couples tend to count how their spouse has been blessed by marrying them. “I have done so much for you!” is like a mantra which has to be said 108 times in a day. And the other person has to counter it by saying “everyone does that”. If you are going to do something as a favour or as a duty might as well not do it. You do it because you want to do it. It is a choice that you make. If you choose to cook for your family it is a conscious decision that you make, why count it as a blessing. If you choose take care of your sick spouse it is a choice that you took in a rational mind state, does it become a favour?

On similar lines is Love is sacrifice. What does sacrifice mean? It means when you willingly give up something to get something more important. The highlight here is “willingly”. Why then does it have to be a bone of contention?  Why does it have to be used as a weapon in a fight?

The favourite one of relationship advisors and Karan Johar movie fans is Love is eating together. Yes it makes sense because you get to spend time together. Now let us take a reality check. The wife comes back home after a tiring day at work or has just finished her household chores of the whole day. She has not eaten since lunch and is famished. The husband gets delayed in traffic and is starving too. How likely is it that two ‘food deprived exhausted’ individuals can have a loving conversation. Would it be more rational for the one at home to eat and then sit with the other while he/she eats and have a rational conversation after dinner? But then love is being irrational no?

The most irritating one is Love is a tool for change. I have heard a million couples say “I thought he/she will change” or even worse “I can change him/her with my love”. If love was enough to change people I would be out of a job. Yes love acts as a catalyst for change. It is a great motivator. But wanting to completely change a person to suit your own preferences is unfair. Will resentment not build in? Is your love an experiment in social psychology? Is the point of your relationship to see what stimulus will modify this behaviour? Why then be with a person you want to change?

Another misunderstood one is Love is having no ego. Ego yes, dignity no. I come across many individuals (yes men too) who completely forgo their dignity in the name of love. Putting up with abuse both physical and verbal, giving up on your choices and desires, giving up your self respect is not love. If your love is making you give up your own self and be completely different then it is not love at all.

Love is… Loving yourself too

Love is …. Respecting your difference

Love is…. Freedom

Love is… Independence

Happy Independence Day. Love yourself, love your country and love with dignity

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