I went to a healer yesterday to get a blessing for the New Year. She asked me if there was something I wished to have more of, and I said courage. I hadn’t planned to say courage, I hadn’t been thinking about that, but at the end of a year that felt riddled with self-doubt, courage seemed like something I needed more of. If I could rid myself of the self-doubt, I feel like I could rid myself of the anxiety, and then maybe magical things could happen.
But interestingly, at the end of the blessing, she bestowed a gift on me, a gift that was matched with a symbolic gift, for me to receive love. In 2015, she wished love for me.
It’s such a natural wish, and one that I have wished for many times, but it still caught me off guard, because I’ve temporarily given up on love. It’s not that I’ve resigned myself to dying alone (although, sure, that thought crosses my mind on occasion), but that I’ve had to re-examine the role love plays in my life.
I started 2014 declaring that I had given up on love, on dating, on relationships, on men. I still ended up dating (not men) but was forced to realize that love is not enough. Just because you love someone, and even if they love you back, does not mean they are the right someone for you. Love is complicated, and it does not guarantee compatibility.
But when the love is there, it can be very hard to see this. It can be very hard to let go.
It’s much easier to dismiss someone when they’re mean or a jerk or boring or dumb. But when they are good and sweet and loving, how do you walk away from that without seeming somehow ungrateful? How do you walk away from that without feeling like you’re disrespecting the love that brought you together in the first place?
It’s hard to find love, especially in a cold and superficial city like Los Angeles. So when you do find someone who loves you, that seems mildly revolutionary, and you feel like you should hold on for all you’ve got. And if it’s not working, then it must be you. Because two people couldn’t simply be incompatible if they love each other. If they love each other, and it’s not working, maybe you just need a different self-help book or a different communication strategy or an adjustment of priorities and habits. If it’s not working, clearly you’re too picky or difficult or demanding — because how do you not recognize the love?
But love is not enough. Sometimes compatibility is a cold and clinical beast. Sometimes compatibility may lie somewhere in those questions matchmakers used to ask, or maybe even in those endless OkCupid quizzes. Basic things like background and education levels and communication abilities and strategies are important. Sometimes, certain aspects of a person may trigger everything you fear and loathe, and this is not something that can be negotiated away in conversation.
Love is an essential component to any successful relationship, but love, on its own, is not a problem-solver. Love provides the gloss and the twinkle, but the foundation must already exist. Two puzzle pieces must fit together because no amount of loving will make a square peg fit in a round hole.
It’s especially hard for me because I’m a people pleaser, and I especially want to please the people I love and who love me. I’m also hypercritical of myself, so I recognize all my faults — in bright blinking neon. If anything in my life isn’t working, I’m sure I’ve got at least a 50% share of the responsibility in that, so blaming anything on incompatibility feels like a copout, a shirking of responsibility.
But still, if there’s anything this year has taught me, it’s that love is not enough.