"You have to like her as much as you love her."
I just read a beautiful piece of writing in The Good Men Project titled “You Have to Like Her as Much as You Love Her,” and both the title and article really resonated with me. The title itself speaks to a simple truth that people often look past, or don’t spend enough time thinking critically about, before they decide—or attempt—to start and maintain a life with someone, specifically a romantic partner.
Loving someone tends to be a lot easier than liking someone. This is a verity I’ve come to be sure of over the years as a result of my own experiences, observing others, and hearing about others’ experiences. The twisted truth is, you can love someone and not like them. Just the same, you can like someone and not love them (referring mostly to romantic love here). But, when you think about it, it’s almost always more painful to have the love without the like. In fact, that’s one of the hardest things to deal with. That’s the kind of overwhelmingly agonizing feeling that keeps you tossing and turning throughout the night. When I think about all the hours I spent contemplating and crying over my first long-term boyfriend, whom I loved intensely but increasingly did not like or trust on the same level, I can still feel the emotion in my bones. It doesn’t cripple me at all, like it once did, but the feeling lives inside of me. It reminds me that falling for someone is the easy part of love, because it's, arguably, more dependent on science than real effort. Falling in love with someone isn't a common, everyday occurrence, but it is easy. It happens before you have time to think about whether or not you actually want it to. Chemistry is a weird thing, and it’s torturous to be hit with the realization that you love someone more than you like them. Because you can’t get by on love itself.
As I think about my capacity for love, I know that I have endless amounts of it in my heart. I have genuine love for every person I share this Earth with. But love isn’t the be-all and end-all. The fact of the matter is, you can love people you don’t trust. You can love people that have hurt you. You can love people you don’t agree with. I know I do. I simply have love for others and wish the best for them, even if I don’t necessarily like them or think they’re very good people.
That being said… when it comes to truly great, long-lasting romantic love, you have to have as much like as you do love, if not more. But this wasn’t always clear to me.
I always romanticized what love is (I still do, but in a healthy way). I thought: Love is the answer. Love is the most important thing we have. Love makes everything better. And, while I do believe love is one of the most important things we have, I’ve learned that love itself is not enough. The feeling of love on its own is not enough to change the world or make a marriage last for 30, 40, or 50+ years. When it comes to romantic love, the feeling of love has to be accompanied by deep passion, courage, action, and genuine like. You have to like, respect, trust, and enjoy spending time with someone so much that they’re who you want to wake up next to every day and take on the world with. Because life is not always easy, and love is never enough. Love is beautiful, but it’s simply a feeling. On top of love, you have to have the genuine desire and want to choose the same one person every single day because you like them, possibly even more than you love them. When you have an overflowing amount of love and like for someone, you’ve hit the jackpot.
With this knowledge, you have to choose yourself every day so you can, in turn, choose someone else every day. In simpler terms, you have to choose “me” so you’re ready and secure enough to choose “we.”
I choose myself every single day, because I know that’s crucial to my happiness and wellbeing. I choose to love myself and treat myself with the same kindness and respect I show others and deserve from others. I like the person I am and the person I’m becoming. I don’t always love or like exactly where I’m at, but I still love and like myself. I want to be the kind of person that I want to be with, both in terms of a forever romantic relationship and friendship. I fill myself up every day with love, optimism, laughter, and a positive attitude, and I need that in/from a romantic partner. I like to think I’m pretty dang easy to love, but I hope I’m even easier to like.
So, love hard. Always love hard. But keep an eye out for the people you really, really like. Love is wonderful, but the like is where it’s at.
(Aaaaand, now I've officially reached my lifetime limit of using the words "love" and "like.")