A.sk Ross

About Whether Love Is Enough & Loving Yourself

A.sk Ross is where I, Marissa A. Ross, answer questions you ask me. Keep in mind I am simply a girl who’s been through a lot & has acquired some wisdom along the way. I own no certificates proclaiming my word is law, so please don’t take it as so. If anything, take my advice with a grain of salt and a pinch of optimism. Have a question? Email me at A.skRossNow@gmail.com.

Dear Marissa,

I used to believe that love is all you need to make a relationship work, but as I’m getting older, I’m not so sure anymore. In addition to love, I want a man that has a career and that isn’t lazy or unmotivated to get ahead in life. I want a man who can move in with me; not one who lives with his parents still. My boyfriend and I are both 25 and I have these things (a degree, a career, a home, motivation) and he has none of them. It didn’t matter when we were 20, but it’s starting to matter now. Still, I love his man so much and being with him makes me happier than I ever thought possible– it would be horribly shallow and unthinkable to end our happy relationship over something like money and a career. But at the same time I’m very frustrated that we can’t move forward (moving in together, marriage, kids) because of his lack of these things. I’ve tried to talk to him and push him, but he only puts in a little effort right after we talk and then slides back into not trying again. So is love really all we need or are things like a career and a home together important– nay, mandatory!– as well?

Confused Beatles Fan

Personally, those things definitely matter to me and I don’t feel shallow about it at all. As you get older, love becomes a long term thing, not some summer fling Freshman year. You have to think about it as, “Holy shit, this is the rest of my life.” And you really need someone who is on the same page as you. It’s not about money, it’s about priorities. You’re not wrong for growing up and wanting security and a family. It just seems like he hasn’t grown up alongside you. You can love someone with all your heart but how is it going to work if you don’t want the same things out of life? You’re 25 and you’re having these thoughts now. Don’t kid yourself into thinking they aren’t going to matter a hundred times more when you’re 30.

Yes, love can be all that matters and you could support this dude and take him along on your adventures for the rest of your life. But you want a partner, someone who can share the experiences with you because they are in a similar place you are. Unfortunately, right now, this guy isn’t your partner. You’re on totally different levels. It doesn’t make him a bad person and it doesn’t make the love you have for him not real, but in the long run, you’re still on different levels. If he can’t step up, then you have to step out. If you stick around and try to make him something he’s not, all you’ll create is resentment in both of you.

Dear Marissa,
Three months ago my boyfriend of 5 years broke up with me completely out of the blue. We hadn’t been fighting; we were completely happy (or so I thought.) The very next day he was at my front door asking me to take him back. I did after we had a long, long talk about how he needs to express his feelings better so that we can work out our issues instead of just breaking up. Anyway, that was my first (and hopefully last) heartbreak and it was the most horrible pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life. It made me realize that I was too dependent on other people for my happiness and that I need to find happiness on my own. Since then, I’ve been focusing more on my interests and my passions, and I’ve been pulling away from not just him, but also from my family and friends, because I now know that you can never depend on anyone but yourself to bring you happiness. Still, this pulling away from my loved ones isn’t making me feel much better. And I think it’s hurting my relationship with him. How do I find a middle ground here? How can I open up and trust my loved ones without becoming dependent on them?

Heart Adrift

I’m really proud of you for focusing more on yourself. That is an important realization many people learn far too late. You’ve taken the first step, but finding the middle ground you speak of is further down the path. You’ve conditioned yourself for god knows how long to associate love with being completely enveloped in someone else. You’ve created an emotional pattern and now you have to break it. This is really all just in your head, unfortunately. It’s a perspective and you have to (not so) simply change that.

Opening up and trusting your loved ones is definitely a risk, and yes, there are times that you will hurt. But once you cultivate your self-love through your own interests, you’ll find that trust and dependence are not intertwined. Just because you let yourself be vulnerable with someone does not make you emotionally reliant on them because you will be emotionally reliant on yourself. By spending time creating your own happiness, you’ll sow some serious self-esteem and self-worth that no one can take from you. Someone can hurt you but that love you have inside for yourself will always be there to keep you centered.

It takes time to learn how to balance the love you have for yourself with the love you have for another. But love is an equal exchange and sharing of energy. You can’t keep giving and giving love if you’re not creating any for yourself. You’ll run out of steam. So chase your dreams. Indulge in your hobbies. Love yourself because loving yourself creates more love for you to give.

A couple of caveats:
1. Don’t become completely immersed in yourself. This is all about balance, balancing a love life with a love for yourself. Prioritize and schedule things out and have boundaries, for your boyfriend, friends & family and your hobbies.
2. You vaguely mentioned this could be ruining your relationship. Don’t ever forget that someone who loves you should love you pursuing what you enjoy. If he can’t handle you doing you, tell him to take a hike.

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