As I was scrolling through social media, a love quote caught my eye and made me think: How do quotes about relationships influence our outlook on love and our relationships? Are love quotes always beneficial and inspiring? Or can they hinder the way we treat and relate with the people we are in a relationship with? As a teenager, I frequently found myself scrolling through quotes to associate with someone else’s thoughts and emotions, validate my feelings, and find ways to cope and move forward when love ‘hit hard’. However, when I look back, I realise that on many occasions I connected with quotes that were not necessarily helping me to shape my attitude towards relationships but, rather, reinforced my fears and stereotypes around love.
When we read a quote, we attribute meaning to it depending on how we relate to it. Meaning stems from our perception. Perception is a mixture of what we think, what we believe and what we have experienced in our lives. When we are not aware of our perceptions, meaning may be derived from a series of thoughts and emotions which we are unaware of. Thus, what we may be relating to while reading a love quote may be the unfinished business from family relationships, stereotypes and biases that we have collected from our experiences with people around us and beliefs that we have formed in order to protect ourselves from being wounded again.
Let’s take a leap into some of the quotes that go around social media, some of which have been saved on my laptop since my late teens.
Life sometimes separates people so that they can realise how much they mean to each other.Paolo Coelho
At first glance, the quote above by Paolo Coelho may seem as an attempt to instil hope for two people who have parted ways. But what does hope do? Where does it take us? Could long term hope become dangerous if we cling to it so much we refuse to let go and move forward? If we take a deeper look at it we can stop at the first three words “Life sometimes separates…” Sometimes, we are not in control of separation from a loved one since it may be caused by death or the other person takes the decision to leave, however we would still be in control of our reaction to what happened. But is life here seen as fate? Then, is fate that which governs our relationships and life choices or are we in control of ourselves and our relationships with others? If we take the rest of the quote one may ask: Do we really need time away from people to understand how much they mean to us? It might be that we get so alienated with life around us and with the routine of meeting each other that we fail to remind ourselves about our purpose in each other’s life. But isn’t it something beautiful to note what keeps the two together every once in a while?
True love never says good-bye, and this is why True Love Lasts Forever.
What the quote above seems to be conveying is that love is not meant to die. But does this mean that if we split up with our partner or detach from our friends or family, we no longer love them? What if we understand that our way of living does not match with that of the people around us, and in order to fulfil our lives we need to part ways? Then love may last forever but without the person by our side. When we are young, we form attachments with our family members and, as we grow, we attach to other people. Attachment may not always be healthy. Sometimes it may be clingy because of fears that come along when someone that has been in our life walks out. Loving someone and being attached to someone are two different things that do not depend on one another.
When a man really loves you…he will love you just the way you are. He will make you a priority. He will always have time for you.
If a man really loves you then they must accept you fully and put you first. This seems to be the essence of the quote above. Firstly, what about a woman? Shouldn’t men and women be equal when it comes to love and the treatment of one another? With this quote it seems that we are putting pressure on the way a man should treat his loved one, disregarding what a woman should do in return. While acceptance of imperfections is part of loving someone, the second sentence in the quote seems to pass the message that you do not need to know your character flaws and work on them to grow into a better individual and relational other. Does this mean that we expect someone to be patient with our shortcomings while intending to still repeat them in the future? Aren’t we all responsible for our own actions? Does this way of thinking produce growth or, rather, stagnation? Does it produce a balanced, healthy relationship or a frustrating and resentful relationship? In the third and fourth sentences in the quote it seems that the notions of boundaries and self-care are completely disregarded. Is someone expected to put everything on hold or aside, including themselves, just because someone came into their life and they love them? Don’t we all have our own interests, needs and ways to unwind? Then, creating a healthy boundary where time is allotted for oneself, other people in one’s life and the relational other seems to be healthier than discounting one’s life for someone else.
While love quotes can help us feel understood and validated, being critical about what we read will help us understand which quotes will contribute to our relationships and which quotes will hinder them.