A major fault in the culture we exist in today is the normalization of both physical and emotional abuse in relationships. In movies and TV shows, couples fight, push each other, say hurtful things, yet all of this is treated as a testament of their love for one another. The passionate fights -- throwing items, slamming doors -- and extremely obsessive and hurtful behaviors are seen as acts of love.
"He's only protective because he loves me."
"She's only jealous because she cares about me."
"I'd be worried if he wasn't jealous."
These subtle yet penetrating sprinkles of unhealthy relationship qualities are EVERYWHERE, and they aren't limited to visual representations.
I work in retail and like most stores, we have the same "playlist" of songs that play just often enough to drive the associates insane. But one song that always sticks out to me is "I heart you" by Baby Ariel. The chorus goes something like -
"You hurt me, and I hurt you.
Because you heart me, and I heart you.
I wouldn't hurt you half as much,
and you wouldn't hurt me back so much
if we didn't love each other like we do."
Don't get me wrong, this song is EXTREMELY catchy. But, honestly that's part of the problem. I find myself singing along to this song and then sitting back and thinking, "What am I saying?" I've been there. I've been in that relationship where you think, "Oh, he's only obsessive and jealous because he cares" and "Oh, he didn't mean to hurt me, it was my fault. I shouldn't have gone out last night."
LOVE is not obsession. LOVE is not jealous. Why are we not teaching this? Why are we accepting that jealousy and controlling behaviors are a given in a relationship? There is a striking difference between interrogation and interest.
You don't have to explain everything you do. You are entitled to privacy. You are not property. You are your own person. NO ONE can take that away from you.
Love is not "Where are you?" or "Who are you with? Is he there?" Love is not "Wearing leggings is whoreish." Love is not "Why can't I come? What are you hiding?"
Love is gentle. Love holds you at night. Love kisses you softly in the silence after a fight. Love is laying side by side, sitting hip to hip, resting arms on shoulders -- anything to be touching.
It takes work, faith, and trust (sometimes a little pixie-dust), but it is not a battle. It's a hike -- sometimes the mountains are hills, sometimes the hills are valleys, but you trudge through hand-in-hand getting stronger everyday.