When your partner loves you more
I say, “I love you.” She responds, “I love you more.”
The first time my girlfriend said she loved me more, I was taken aback. Never in my previous relationships (or rather relationship since I had only been in one before we met) had I received a response like “I love you more.” As she leaned in for a kiss, I questioned, with great concern, what she meant by her response and if it was true. I was scared if it was only because there was no doubt she was telling me the truth. Did this mean that one day I would leave her because my love didn’t match her’s? Or that one day she would leave me because she’d want more than I had to give? Were we setting ourselves up for failure?
No. Over the past 3.5 years, I’ve come to realize my girlfriend means it when she says she loves me more and I have no problem with it; and neither does she. My initial translation of this phenomenon was one partner does all the work, goes above and beyond while the other simply sits back and receives the benefits. Contrary to what I believed, relationships and partners are too complex to be grouped in “active vs passive” boxes.There are spectrums and balancing acts. Both of which are centered on love. No one chooses to love less or not be fully loved and someone loving you more doesn’t mean that you love them less. It just means that you love differently.
In high school, around the time of my first relationship, I admired a married couple: Martha and Dennis. One day, out of the blue, Dennis gave me some advice. He said to me, “Find someone who loves you a little more than you love them.” And I remember thinking something along the lines of that can’t be good or that can’t be fair. But years later, in my longest relationship, I now understand what he meant. If it’s 50/50 when it comes to staying in love then it’s 50/50 when it comes to falling out of it. If it’s 51/49 then that 1% will make a world of a difference. Being in a relationship, being in a loving relationship, is not simply about meeting halfway face-to-face. It’s about meeting and someone taking that extra step to stand by the other person’s side.
My translation had failed me because it was premature, as was I. No two partners are the same. A relationship after all consists of individuals. (If my girlfriend wanted someone just like her, she would’ve dated herself and the same goes for me. And I tried dating someone similar to me—it didn’t work.) What I needed to wrap my head around was the idea that partners will give differently; they will love differently. This was particularly hard when everyone around me promoted finding your equal or your perfect match. I wasn’t open to being the one partner who had more to give and readily so. Nor did I want to be the crappy end of the deal. However, that wasn’t the kind of lover I was nor am. I give in a way that contrasts my partner. I give, as I’ve come to understand and accept, by actively remaining open and receptive—an act that takes just as much as effort and giving all of the time. All you can do is give what you have and understand we all have different amounts of “all” to give. With the right person (or persons) you need to decide if you want to give all you have and then you must do just that. You can’t hold back because no one can give their all when others are giving pieces. Understand, accept and appreciate. Ask for more if you know there’s more to be given. Otherwise appreciate everything that’s given to you and don’t look back.