Recognizing Real Love Part 2

Table of contents for Recognizing Real Love

  1. Recognizing Real Love Part 1 of 2
  2. Recognizing Real Love Part 2

Reading Level: Impassioned

Please read Recognizing Real Love Part 1 before continuing this post. It contains all the foundational points for the illustration I will be covering below.

It is not God’s desire for any person to come to the end of his/her life having never experienced truly loving relationships on a consistent basis. However, many times religious beliefs or a compliant personality cause many people to endure long-term, emotionally unhealthy relationships because they suffer from an unrealistic guilt about getting help and/or getting away from the abusive relationship.

The abuser frequently tells the submissive person that he/she loves them, but then lives a lifetime of behavior that causes emotional and even physical harm to the other person. For a compliant personality type, the extreme contradiction in words and behavior is not enough to compel them to get help or make a change to bring the necessary healing to their lives.

Again, let me emphasize, infrequent, low-level hurtful behavior does take place in healthy relationships. However, allowing another person to treat you with consistent, immensely hurtful behavior will have lasting effects, deepening harm to one’s emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being the longer it is allowed to continue. If you are having difficulty in dealing with such a relationship in ways that will bring definite healing to your life, finding a reputable counselor is must. As the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behavior are not always clearly defined in our minds, we utilized a detailed definition of real love in Part One. A good starting place for distinguishing between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, between healthy and destructive relationships in your life, is using the definition of real love to evaluate the behavior patterns of the relationships in your life.

For purpose of illustration, and to avoid male/female references in the relationship, the abusive, controlling person will be labeled Person A and the submissive, compliant person will be labeled Person B.

Though the illustration below may seem extreme, it is based on an actual relationship in which Person B suffers from extreme guilt at the idea of getting help to improve the relationship or getting away from the relationship because Person A, the abuser, will express love to Person B and then continue in the abusive behavior. It has become a blur to Person B as to where the boundaries should be drawn to stop the emotional, physical, and spiritual harm Person B is experiencing.

Using the process below, it will be easy to illustrate how such a simple evaluation can bring clarity to the difference between a real, loving relationship which occasionally experiences low-level, harmful behavior, and a consistently harmful relationship.

Love is kind. Person A consistently makes degrading remarks toward Person B’s race and religion, bringing deep hurt to some of the most foundational aspects of Person B’s life. These remarks take place both to Person B’s face and to relatives and people in the community in which Person B lives and does business.

Love is never envious…It is not boastful. Upon leaving most social situations, Person A uses the trip home to verbally degrade all who were present there in an effort to compensate for a lack of self-esteem, rather than developing appreciation for people’s good points and working to improve their own self-image.

Loves does not boil over with jealousy. Because Person A refuses to deal with personal shortcomings that prevent friendships or family ties throughout their lives, Person A is overcome with jealousy over Person B’s attempts to have close personal ties with family and friends. Person A’s behavior is so extreme that Person B submits to the deprivation of close relationships to avoid future conflicts.

Love is not conceited or arrogant. Person A insists on their personal superiority in appearance, ideas, and actions over all other people in their realm of existence. Person A’s words, actions, and behavior demonstrate a constant effort to maintain what they believe is proof of superiority over other people in all areas of life.

Love does not behave rudely, unmannerly, or act in ways that are unbecoming. Person A frequently creates major scenes of socially unacceptable behavior to embarrass the other spouse over prior disagreements. Person B responds by giving in to avoid more embarrassment.

Real love does not insist on its own way, for it is not self-seeking. Person A has chosen to live a life devoid of loving, relational ties, but has insisted on the same deprived lifestyle for Person B.

Love is not touchy, fretful, or resentful. Person A expresses deep-seated resentment and even hatred toward Person B over following through with joint decisions, over Person B expressing the need for professional help in the relationship, and for Person B’s attempts at having normal, loving family and friend relationships.

Love does not rejoice at injustice or unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Person A shows actual delight in purposely harmful behaviors. Person A brags about consistently deceiving and slandering Person B, as well as relatives, and people in the work place.

Love believes the best of other people. Person A is unsupportive of Person B’s career and abilities, ignores Person B’s potential and dreams, denies Person B even the right of emotional recognition of the need for family and friends, and does not express appreciation for Person B’s good qualities. Instead of Person A taking responsibility for any personal failures, they insist that each of their life’s problems is due to Person B’s shortcomings.

There is a clear and consistent pattern of destructive behavior by Person A that is in stark contrast to a life of real love from the definition in 1 Cor.13:4-7. Person B has stayed in the relationship without getting professional help, believing that Person A’s behavior fits into the category of an acceptable, loving relationship.

If Person B evaluates Person A’s behavior according to the definition of real love, the blurring of boundaries between what is a real, loving relationship which occasionally experiences low-level, harmful behavior, and this consistently harmful relationship becomes apparent. Person B can begin to experience freedom from guilt over insisting on professional help to bring healing to the relationship or from removing oneself from the relationship and getting professional help to bring healing to the long-term harm already done to Person B’s emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

This evaluation may be simple, but bringing healing to long-term harmful relationships or freeing oneself from guilt to take action and draw boundaries against the harm, or even removing oneself from the situation is not an easy, brief process.

One needs strength, comfort, and wisdom from God. Psychologists are also clear to point out that one needs consistent strength and positive input from not only a professional counselor, but several stable, dependable, loving relationships to prevent yourself from falling back into guilt and compliance. After evaluating your relationships, if you find significant ones that are destructive, focus on truth and allow God to remove your false sense of guilt. God desires you to have a lifetime of experiencing the joys of healthy, supportive, healing relationships. Remember, a truly loving person will do whatever it takes to make changes so they will not be personally responsible for bringing repeated harm into your life.

I highly recommend the book “Boundaries: When to Say, “Yes,” When to Say, “No,” to Take Control of Your Life” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It is an average reading level and the book gives real life relationship examples throughout to make it easy for you to identify your personality type, weaknesses, personality types of friends, family, co-workers, etc. I believe it was on the NY Best Sellers List for several years. The ISBN on the softcover version is 0-310-24745-4. This book is fantastic for those who struggle with guilt in standing up for their well-being, as mentioned in the article, due to religious beliefs or personality type, as well as for anyone wanting to develop healthier, loving relationships. It will also help you determine whether or not you should seek the support of a counselor (best if you can use a referral) to assist you in dealing with hurtful relationships.

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