“But do you love him for him or because of how he treats you?”
I am going to agree that this is a great question. This is a great question to ask a very vulnerable girl when she starts to date someone who shows her a lot of attention but is not necessarily a great guy. This would have been a great question to ask me when I was fifteen years old. Alas…
There are some people who you will start to love (friendship wise or relationship wise) because they love you. This is the foundation of the Gospel. We love God because He first loved us. That’s a BIBLE verse, guys. This is an okay place to be. It is not wrong to love someone because they love you.
We could spend all day trying to answer the question “What does love mean” but I’ve talked about this before and it isn’t the point of this blog. Let’s assume that when I mean LOVE, I mean it in a healthy way – not obsession or infatuation but instead God’s love through people.
Because I only understand this question (in a good way) in the term of friendships, I’ll focus on friendships. But I’ll tie it back.
The likelihood of the love staying that way is… at best, low. The person will not always have 100% of their actions be to love you. You will have to learn how to be a giver as well as how to continue receiving without guilt or without a desire to “equal things out.” Because that is what we always want to do as we see that we have only taken from a friend.
That’s pride that tells us we need to equal things out. We don’t need equal friendships. Sometimes you give more. Sometimes you take more. That’s all right. Sometimes you have nothing to give. Maybe, hopefully, one day you will have something to give. But until then, don’t let guilt overwhelm you. Love them back. Tell him or her you love him or her when you remember.
The friend I have that led me to Christ… did I love him because he loved me first? Yes, I do. But over the years, our friendship has changed. I was obsessed with a scale of “paying him back” and refused to accept more from him until I felt that we would break even. Eventually, I realized I would never break even with this guy… our friendship just is not set up for that possibility, being as he led me to Christ. I love him now as a person and friend with his flaws and quirks and issues and it has changed.
But I don’t think that’s wrong, that initial love, because it taught me how to love people and how to allow myself to be loved. It set up the stage for a perfect Dad (God) to show me that He first loved me. You start off loving someone because they love you but you learn to love them as a person. God, unlike people, is flawless. However there are things about Him that we don’t like because they don’t line up with what we want or our own understanding. These can be seen as flaws (although they aren’t) and if we have not learned of God’s love for us can set us back. As we overcome this mindset and begin to love God for being mighty and just and perfect and all the things that are Him, then we learn to really love. And as we learn this love, we begin to learn how to love people that do not love us- people who are apathetic to us or people who hates us.
This is the same thing in a boyfriend and girlfriend relationship. It can be difficult to see a difference between “the way he treats me” and “who he is as a person” when he is an actual good guy that is loving you the way Christ calls him to love you. Why is this? Because he loves people the way Christ calls him to love people. It isn’t just you. So you begin to think: “I only love him because of how he treats me” refusing to see that he treats everyone with the same amount of love and respect… at least most of the time.
Whereas when someone is interesting and mean and rude, it is easy to love them for those interesting factors and to love the imperfections. But not a love from God… instead a love that wants to change him so you are the one in control. You have saved him. Or you have saved her. There is no guilt from your side in the relationship if this person is not good to you most of the time. You justify it by saying they have problems or this or that – but really you just want to save them. Because you don’t want to be vulnerable enough to be loved by someone who does not need to be saved.
I liked this one guy for years. He loved God most of the time but he was a terrible friend to me. But I could list pages and pages of all the things I liked about him: he is a poet, a photographer, a philosopher. He was also a really terrible friend. Not to say that I was perfect… but it was easier to love someone so obviously broken and flawed and feel justified because I loved things about him. But you ought to love a person for who they actually are.
We are all broken; no one is perfect. But the reason good guys feel jipped is because girls may be looking for guys who they can save. Perhaps the same is true in reverse. Good girls often feel jipped because guys want someone who is flawed and broken so that they do not have to be the vulnerable one – she is the vulnerable one.
My point in all of this is to say: there is no scale. Relationships do not have scales of who has shown more love to another – not real love. Real love keeps no records of wrongs (which is biblical) but it also doesn’t keep a track record of who has done the most right. We store up the good things that others do for us in our hearts, yes, but not as a repayment method. We do it to remind ourselves of good that exists in the world.
Do you guys agree with this? Do you think it’s true that we want to save people and struggle with this mentality? Do you find yourselves trying to “break even” in relationships: romantic or otherwise?