Here are some thoughts to think about:
Somebody once said this to me at the end of a phone conversation, ” I love you as much as you love me.”
This sounds like something funny to say, definitely if you are outsiders to this relationship; but to explain a little bit of the context here, the two of us had been together for awhile and we were at this point of comfort in the relationship where we can deviate from the classic ” I love you” and ” I love you too” responses. Sometimes we found ourselves overusing those words, so a little creativity doesn’t hurt. So he said it, and without any control ( it was after 12, my brain stops working after 10) I prematurely exclaimed, ” Nooooo!!!”. He laughed hard, while calling me out on this “revelation” that I probably didn’t love him as much as he loved me.Well, what this situation later revealed, was a whole lot more about the subject.
The first question that came to my head was, ” Was it true? Did I really not love him as much?” We both didn’t think it was the case, rather this situation revealed just what I thought about my state of love towards him. This revealed that, I believed I personally had a greater capacity for love, and that I wasn’t using up my “love” resources enough. So why was I only using it halfway?
This then introduced a whole other string of thoughts. Namely, first, that I was measuring love in terms of “feelings”, which can’t be measured. How can I ever experience what other people feel inside, to compare with my own? I can’t. One person’s “5” on a scale of one to ten, might be another person’s “ten”. For all I know, Janine’s “love” scale is set at “10”, but is a smaller scale compared to Jack’s whose is set at “5”, but it is a more powerful scale, making the number 5 overpower the number 10, even though the number is a 10. See, in this situation, we set our own scales, without any knowledge of a baseline average. Hence, my perception of how much I believed I loved him, based on a scale that is set to my standards of love, that might not be what other people’s standards are.
Second, if love is NOT a “feeling”, then maybe it is an “action”. This also has complications. What if someone really, really, really professes his love to someone else, but yet, does nothing about this love? He doesn’t tell her, he doesn’t offer her kind words, or a shoulder to cry on, doesn’t buy her lunches etc., let’s pretend he’s afraid, or whatever his reason for not doing anything is; compared to a person who says he likes someone, not love, like, yet he opens her doors, sends her flowers, buys her chocolate, does a whole lot more*, who loves the other more? One identifies with loving the other, the other identifies with just “liking”. So is love defined as an “action”?
Third, if love is sacrifice, and sacrifice is in itself is subjective; for example I think it is a big sacrifice to always be the one driving, braving the traffic jam and getting past two tolls, but Daryl doesn’t view it as a “sacrifice”; to him, this is just part of things, or what life is like in KL. It is “the norm” of his everyday life. Yet Daryl might find it a big sacrifice to cook a meal, wash cabbages, cut carrots, heat pan, pour oil, fry.. .etc, but I, in turn, don’t find that a sacrifice. So who does “more”? Who does the “greater” sacrifice? We can take this up to many other situations in relationships. Cooking is a “lot of work”, but would I rather cook or drive? I would rather cook. It’s more enjoyable to me.
It’s been said that forming the crux of most arguments, we tend to judge others by their actions and we judge ourselves by our intentions. So there are two things at work here, one of them is our perceptions, of our own love, of how other people love each other, of how my partner loves me, and the other is our actions and behaviors to what goes on inside that doesn’t necessarily correlate.
* these are just examples of course. There are other factors at work of course, socioeconomic factors, opportunities, etc. as to why people do not “act” on situations, but all this is besides the point of this piece.