Love Is Not Enough: How to Be a Better Partner

Love is a good thing. Love is beautiful. Love is necessary. However, love isn't enough. Read on to find out why.
Daughter consoling sad father at home

The power of love has swept over many people’s hearts to the extent that some of us consider it the end-all and be-all answer to our problems. However, most of those before us who felt the same way came to realize that love is not enough.

In 1967, John Lennon released the track “All You Need Is Love.” The singer also abandoned one of his kids, beat both his wives, and verbally abused his Jewish manager with anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs.

Thirty-five years later, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor released “Love Is Not Enough.”

Despite his popularity for incredible stage performances and disturbing and grotesque videos, he overcame substance and alcohol abuse, married one woman who bore him two kids, and canceled entire tours and albums to stay at home and be a good dad and husband.

One of the two popular artists clearly understood love, and the other didn’t. One of the men considered love a way out of all their problems, but the other didn’t. Clearly, one of them was a narcissistic asshole, while the other wasn’t.

Our culture has many people idealizing love. The stories or movies we encounter celebrate it as the ultimate goal in life, some haughty fix-all for day-to-day hurdles. This causes us to overestimate it, and our relationships end up paying the price.

By believing that all we need is love, we likely ignore fundamental values like humility, commitment, and respect for our loved ones. If love solves everything, why struggle with all that hard stuff?

But by believing that love isn’t enough, we learn that there’s more to healthy relationships than the lofty passions or pure emotion of love. We also understand that relationship success hinges on more profound, important values.

Why Love is Not Enough

To understand why love isn’t the most critical part of your relationship, you should first know what love entails and what kind of love we’re talking about. This really matters when making any reasonable summations.

Generally, people deem love as the euphoric feelings we experience during the initial phases of dating. They simply expect that feeling to last for the rest of their lives.

If this is your ideology of love, then you must wake up. That puppy love thing won’t get you anywhere in your “happily ever after” journey.

Love just ain’t enough

This popular ideology about love is mostly based on the content we consume from mass media. And this is a serious problem.

The problem is serious because it didn’t just begin suddenly. Not at all. When talking about committing to a relationship or marriage, you must have spent about 20 years on earth. Such a long time is enough for mass media inundations to settle into many people’s subconscious minds.

The Primary Components of Love

Multiple researchers have studied the numerous attributes constantly associated with love. The most consistently mentioned features in defining true love include respect, friendship, honesty, trust, and caring.

Additional in-depth analysis of these features of love revealed that true love comprises:

  • Intimacy – The feelings of connectedness, closeness, and bonding
  • Passion – The desires and feelings that culminate into physical allure, romantic desire, and sexual consummation.
  • Commitment or decision – This entails the feelings that make someone remain with their loved one and move toward shared objectives.

Intimacy is inherently more vital than passion when defining true love in a relationship. It is also essential to balance your psychological need for love and the need for sex, and the complete absence of the three components is considered non-love.

However, the actual situation on the ground is dire. Most people enter marriage solely because “they’re in love” with their partners.

This mentality often leads many to discover harsh truths later on when they’re deep into the relationship.

Three Harsh Truths About Love

The issue with idealizing love is that it creates unrealistic expectations of what love entails and how it helps us. Such expectations then end up sabotaging the very relationships we treasure.

Let’s explore some harsh truths you should know about love:

Love and Compatibility Aren’t Similar

Simply falling in love with someone doesn’t necessarily make them an excellent long-term partner.

While love is emotional, compatibility, on the other hand, is logical. These two never bleed into each other well.

We can still fall in love with people who mistreat us, disrespect us, or dent our self-esteem.

Unhappy young couple.

You can fall in love with someone with different life goals, views, or philosophical beliefs contradicting your sense of reality. It’s also possible to fall for someone who sucks the delight out of you.

So don’t just use your heart to find a partner, but also your mind. Yes, you need a partner who flatters your heart or makes your fart smell like bacon. But you should also evaluate their values, worldviews, ambitions, and how they treat themselves or those close to them.

Because if you fall for an incompatible partner, you will have a rough time.

Love Won’t Fix Your Relationship Problems

Back then, I was madly in love with my ex-girlfriend, who lived in a different city. Our families hated each other, we were too broke to see each other regularly, and we struggled with weekly bouts of meaningless fighting and drama.

Whenever we fought, we’d meet again to make up and remind each other that none of these hurdles mattered because we were madly in love.

Our love seemed like the only way to beat our problems when practically, there wasn’t any progress.

Of course, we didn’t resolve shit. The fights recurred, and our arguing got worse. The fact that we couldn’t afford to meet regularly hung over our necks, and we ended up too self-absorbed to communicate effectively.

We talked on the phone for hours, yet said nothing. There wasn’t hope for a lasting relationship, yet we pushed on for four years! Love conquers everything, after all, right?

Unsurprisingly, it all burst into flames, crashing like the Hindenburg. To date, it has been my ugliest break-up. But I learned that even if love might seem to ease your relationship issues, it doesn’t fix them.

Love Isn’t Always Worth Sacrificing Yourself For

If you love someone, you should think beyond your own needs to care for your loved one and their needs. But what are you sacrificing? Is it worth it?

It’s normal and healthy to occasionally sacrifice your time, desires, and needs for another, but there are limits. But you should never give up your dignity, self-respect, physical body, life purpose, or ambition just because you love someone.

Instead, a loving relationship should supplement our identity, not damage or eliminate it.

If you ever tolerate abusive or disrespectful attributes, you’ll allow your love to consume and negate you. Without quick action, you might end up in a shell of what you used to be.

Sometimes, the best aftermath is for it to conclude. Some sacrifices aren’t worth it. There are things you can’t fix.

Parting Shot

Long-lasting love is determined by the state of its three primary components; commitment, passion, and intimacy.

For instance, maintaining a true friendship requires lots of dedication and effort.

Based on the description of what it entails, it’s clear that love will never stand by itself. Thus, love is not enough because to maintain the three primary components; you must develop and support other rational aspects beyond love itself.