What It Means to Be “Hard to Love”

What It Means to Be “Hard to Love”

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The sound of my husband telling me, ?You are work, Caitlin. You are work. Who else would be willing to do this?? is solidly burned into my memory.

According to him, he was singularly qualified to have me, because he was willing to do the hard work of loving me.

Not riding the waves of my mental illness, not navigating my eating disorder, not supporting me through the estrangement of my parents, not even handling the expectations of doing weekly housework. No.

The hard part of our relationship was loving me.

What does it mean when we?re ?hard to love??

When you?re hard to love, it means someone thinks that love means doing what they want without compromise or consequence.

It means that when they did something and you said you didn?t like it, their discomfort at finding your boundary is easier spent resenting you than reflecting on their behavior.

I asked my friends if they?ve been told they are hard to love, and for what reason.

?Because I am stubborn, don?t listen, always criticize, and never apologize.?

?Because I?m self-contained.?

?Because everything they said made me mad.?

?Because I stopped talking to him when he refused to believe that I was abused.?

?Because I?m too dominant, too clingy, and have anxiety.?

?Because I was too weird or too independent.?

?Because I expect too much work from my partners and I expect apologies ?for every damn thing.??

?Because I was sad and ?cut myself for attention.??

?Because I have high expectations, I need too much, want too much, and talk about my feelings too much.?

?Because I ?loved things to death.??

?Because I am assertive, career driven, and don?t tolerate sexism or gender roles.?

What do all of these things have in common?

The ?difficulty? is directly related to people having their own human expectations, triggers, desires, and needs. And that is just not acceptable for someone who wants you to be their version of you and not an individual.

Love is easy

Communication can be hard. Getting through disagreements and hurt feelings is hard. Navigating the effects of an illness is hard. Working through triggers and trauma is hard.

You can?t just have a great relationship by accident, you have to do the work.

Interpersonal relationships have challenges, because relating to another human being is challenging sometimes. It does take work to be in any kind of relationship because you always have to leave space for conflict and its healthy resolution.

Relationship communication can mean needing mediation or therapy to work through really big, really tough issues. Relationships mean taking the time to make space for things to be uncomfortable for a while so you can find a solution together. Relationships mean understanding what your partner needs to feel loved and supported and respected. Relationships take work.

You can?t just have a great relationship by accident, you have to do the work.

But love? Love is not work.

What ?hard to love? means

The ?difficulty? is directly related to people having their own human expectations, triggers, desires, and needs.

The next time someone tells you that you?re hard to love, consider if maybe they?re saying something else instead.

Something like:

  • I don?t like that you disagree with me.
  • I don?t like that you have your own goals that don?t have anything to do with me.
  • Your personality is a problem for me.
  • I want you to like the things I like, but I don?t care about the things you like.
  • I don?t like that you have friends that take time away from me.
  • Other people are attracted to you and I refuse to deal with my jealousy so it?s your problem now.
  • Expecting me to know what your needs are is a tall order and I?m unwilling to learn those things.
  • If you know how amazing you are, you might leave me for not meeting your expectations.
  • I want you to be smaller and less assertive.
  • You intimidate me.

You?re not hard to love. Loving you is like breathing.

You are too much for someone who refuses to leave space for you to grow.

Appreciate this ridiculous line as your signal to get out of there and go find friends and loved ones who appreciate you just as you are and just as you?ll become in the future.

Because loving you is not hard. It?s not work.

Loving you is a privilege.

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