The Better Half: To Love Or To Be Loved?

Image from Bluestone Edge.

BY
RUTH CHAN

Published on
July 27, 2020

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5

From a young age, loving others came very instinctively to me. I thought that it was the most important thing in life. I believed that the essence of life lies in loving others and that it is second nature to humans. 

But through the formative years in life, I began to understand that the world is not as simple as I thought. Life is indeed not a bed of roses. With the onset of trauma, heartaches and other setbacks, I started to question: is it easier to love or to be loved? What do others think? Out of genuine curiosity, I did a poll on Instagram. Out of the 88 people I asked, 45 of them replied with the former.

The response was a surprise to me as I didn’t expect the results to be this balanced but it definitely piqued my interest in this topic.

Why It Is Difficult To Be Loved

Being loved may not be as easy as it seems. Firstly, you can’t hold someone at gunpoint and demand him/her to love you. It is something that’s beyond our control, and completely dependent on the other party.

Secondly, those who do love us tend to have expectations, which can lead to added pressure for us. As imperfect human beings, we are bound to make mistakes and fall short of these expectations at times. When that happens, it may cause disappointment and heartbreak, which can tear a relationship apart. This can be detrimental to our mental and emotional well-being. 

Lastly, negativity that consumes us from within may cloud our vision. This causes us to be blinded by gut-wrenching guilt and lingering bitterness, pushing us to think of ourselves as terrible people. We start to believe that we are not loved, thereby rejecting any form of love others show us, no matter how innocent and pure it is. We begin convincing ourselves that people have ulterior motives, that they are inherently selfish, and that they want something from us in return for their love.

Why It Is Easier To Love

On the other hand, it is easier to love because it is a personal choice. True, loving others comes with raw vulnerability. With every aspect of myself that I give, I’m entrusting those I love not to take advantage of it. It’s like putting a gun in their hands and having faith that they won’t pull the trigger on me. However, even if they do, my conscience is clear. Loving them is a variable that’s dependent on me. I bear the consequences of my actions – positive or negative – and that is a risk I am willing to take.     

Additionally, loving others provides a source of motivation in life. It pushes me to do my best and to become a better version of myself. It has given me strength to face my demons so that the people I love do not have to face them with me.

Loving others gives me the will to continue fighting when the going gets tough. In one way or another, loving others has benefited me in so many different ways, which has allowed for self-growth, self-reflection and happiness.

But above all, I truly take comfort in the benefits it brings to the people I love. Albus Dumbledore once said: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Turning on the light, for me, lies in making the decision to love others. From seeing a friend visibly cheer up after giving them a word of encouragement, to spending time with my Mum who had a rough day at work – that is enough to make me content with life.

Striking A Balance

Just as Morrie Schwartz so beautifully worded, the most important thing in life is learning how to give out love, and knowing how to let it in. Even if nothing good comes out of it, my response will always be to love. Mastering the balance between loving others and allowing myself to be loved by others is a fine line to tread, but I will continue learning to achieve that equilibrium.

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