Love is Not Ownership

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about romantic love and some worryingly negative attitudes that I’ve seen and heard a lot of recently. Namely, as you may have guessed from the title, I see a lot of people viewing love as a sort of ownership.

Now, if you meet and fall in love with someone, you likely want them to be a part of your life. This is reasonable and this is healthy – the problem is that I see people who want their partner to be a part of their life, but who don’t want to be a part of their partner’s life. It might sound like a contradiction, so let me explain…

People (or, perhaps that should be, some people) don’t like to think of their partner having an existence that is separate from them. It’s an ego thing, I suppose, where the idea that their partner wants or needs anything that they cannot provide them with is something that they don’t like or makes them feel insecure. It’s ridiculous, of course, because one person can never give another everything that they need – it’s just not how people work.

This kind of attitude is a little more understandable in the early days of a romantic relationship. People are overexcited and not thinking entirely clearly – they may say or think things which are not entirely healthy. This is just an early days infatuation and it’s not exactly “love” though a lot of people mistake it for that. Once the infatuation phase is over, some people just begin to lose interest in the other and that just goes to show just how worthless infatuation is. For sure, it’s the precursor to love, but they are definitely not the same thing – in some sad cases, people never move on from it. It mutates into horribly unhealthy romantic relationships.

People act like big gestures along the lines of “I want to spend every single day of my life with you” are signs of love, but I’d argue that that’s more a symptom of infatuation. The deepest, and most valuable love, comes from people accepting that their partner has an existence which is independent to them – and that’s okay.

This will be slightly different for everybody. Some couples will have 90% of their lives tied to each other and only 10% which is not, and that’s okay. Others will have more of a 50-50 balance. Everybody is different, but the main thing to understand is that people always need something that’s theirs and theirs alone.

You’ll notice that, most often, relationships where this unhealthy attitude is present, it’s only in one partner. One partner has a healthy balance in their life and wants the other to just be part of their life and to not have an independent life. That’s because this is an abusive trait. I think, other than in the early days, any serious couple is only ever going to have this be a one sided thing.

And here’s my personal perspective on it: this kind of thing is never love. It’s ownership. They’ll say that they love their partner so much that they want to provide for them in every aspect of life – and it’s easy to be roped in by those sweet words. But the reality is that they don’t truly love their partner, they only love the idea of them – a person who doesn’t need anything else in their life. An object to populate their life with. But loving the idea of someone is very different to actually loving someone and if you do genuinely love some one, the best thing you can do is be as much of a supportive person as you can, while accepting that they will always need to do some things independently from you.

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