Maybe. . . .
I think that perhaps when we’re very young or when we’re just beginners in love, or perhaps if we were raised in a household where love was given in a very idiosyncratic and inconsistent way and polluted with neglect, abuse, anger (was it even really “love” then that we we’re given??), then maybe this saying might fly for awhile.
But ultimately this saying shouldn’t fly for very long.
Because I think it too easily serves as a rationalization—as a way of rationalizing another person’s less than loving treatment of either us or someone else.
When two people really care about and love each other, it means that two people are committed to trying to learn each day how to better speak each other’s “love languages,” as well as learning how to better receive and accept love in the native way that their partner is speaking it or trying to communicate it to them.
That’s a fairly good working definition of what real Love looks and acts like when it comes to intimate relationships.
But one of the problems in intimate relationships is that people literally love others in the way that they want to be loved. In other words, most people tend to love “narcissistically”—in a way that is more about themselves than it is about the other person, meaning instead of trying to love the other in the other person’s native dialect—in a way that is meaningful to the other person.
For example, if my primary “love languages” (what makes me feel loved or what connotes to me that I am loved by you) are quality time and receiving gifts, but my partner’s primary love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch, then my partner will likely try to communicate love to me through words of affirmation and little touches throughout the day, while I will be trying to communicate to my partner my love for her by trying to spend quality time with her and by bringing her gifts.
But when we really love another person, part of that means that we want to communicate our love and care for the other person in a way that is meaningful to the other person.
Because the other person is actually a real person to us, as real as we are to ourselves, and so the other person deserves to be treated like a real person, and not as an extension of ourselves.
When we love another only in our own love languages and not in the other person’s love language, and when we couple that with expecting (demanding) that the other love us as we want to be loved and not as he or she is natively trying to love us, then the other person is not real to us (and we may not be real to the other person either); the other person is seen as an extension of ourselves, of our ego. And hence we are loving the other person “narcissistically.”
Thus, if I truly love my partner, then I need to get over myself or get outside of myself and express my love to my partner in a way that is meaningful to her and healthy for her. Using the example above, that would mean that I would need to love her through words of affirmation and little light physical touches and such when we are together.
It also would mean that I need to get over myself and accept that when my partner is saying nice things to me or complimenting me or giving me hugs and holding my hand, then I need to appreciate that she is trying to love me as best as she can. As best as she can for now.
Because if we are to both truly to grow in love with each other and for each other, then we will need to each broaden how we give and receive love.
If I am willing to extend myself in this and broaden how I give and receive love, and my partner is willing to as well, how can that not be a good thing?
In my opinion this is really what intimate relationships are about—two people who are mutually committed to this process—the process of expanding the vocabulary, their fluency in the various love languages and dialects. This is part of the proof of love—that we are willing to do this.
The other part of the proof of love is that both people are willing to see each other as real people, and not just as extensions of themselves.
And when and where two people are willing to really try and do both of these things, how can it not be a good thing for each of them as well as the other?