There is nothing quite like being in love and sharing a loving relationship. You often hear about finding “true love,” but we seldom stop to think about what that means.
To consider this properly, you need to know a little something about true love. What makes it true? There is much to say about true love, and there are so many various opinions as to what makes love true. True love is a mystery; almost impossible to put into words.
But we do have a guideline for what makes for true love:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
Single people hope to find the kind of love others have found. Is it possible that singles have not found true love because the love they have to give is false?
I have seven kinds of false love for you to consider. These are seven approaches to love that many people are inclined to take, typically without even knowing it, which have disastrous consequences.
1. The Critical Approach
This is someone who does not believe true love is possible, and criticizes any person they attempt to find love with. True love is impossible to the critical person because they don’t love themselves. Yet, they don’t dare criticize themselves, so they have to find faults in another in order to maintain a superiority. Their love is something the other should feel grateful to have and spend their life showing that gratitude.
They are quick to criticize the person they claim to love, deep down never believing this person could actually love them. The “beloved” is never good enough. The critical person lives as someone who can just as well make due without the beloved.
2. The Scrupulous Approach
This person is very careful about showing too much devotion to a person, fearing that God will somehow be made number two. They feel guilty for wanting and needing a person, since they believe they should only need God. They hold back expressing love and affection in order to prove to themselves (and sometimes to the other person) that they have control of their passions and desires.
Guilt plagues the scrupulous person, because as much as they believe that love shared between two person is unexplainably special and wonderful, they can’t admit it in principle.
Ultimately, they view love not as a gift of God or a blessing, just a necessary evil. They allow their beloved to feel like they are an obstacle to God, instead of a vehicle toward God.
3. The External Approach
This person is only concerned with outward experiences of love. Their love is not giving, but taking. They are anxious if there are not constant external proofs of love. They say “I love you” and need “I love you” said to them endlessly. They believe sharing love is about quantity, not quality. Lots of romance, lots of sex, lots of gifts, lots of flattering words.
A certainty about love in quiet, unspoken moments is foreign to them. If there is no emotional high being experienced, they are afraid love is fading.
4. The Presumptuous Approach
This person is completely fine with their lousy behavior while presuming the beloved will understand and accept them. Their love for the beloved presumes the unconditional love they will receive, regardless of their actions. Their own passions and needs are the priority.
They are at peace with their bad habits and feel no need to work on their faults. They hide things like their impurity, injustice, anger, foul manners and speech, rudeness, detraction and gossip, while making themselves out to be worthy to be loved by the beloved. They presume forgiveness and second chances.
5. The Inconstant Approach
This person is wishy washy when it comes to love. Sometimes they seem really into you and will do anything for you. Then they can seem distant and uninterested, like they’re a different person. They are willing to invest initially in winning your heart, only to back off after they have won it. They easily change, whether in mind or mood or with the latest difficulty in the relationship.
They willingly make promises and take on more than they can handle in showing their love, and leave you disappointed when it was just empty words and promises. Their love is unreliable. They will only express love as they’re ready to.
6. The Hypocritical Approach
This person has high expectations and strict requirements when it comes to the love received from another, while they do not submit themselves to the same standard. They love with a double standard that sets the beloved up as always being the guilty party for all problems, while they are always justified in what they do.
They display a consistent intent of deception in their love by passing as a good person committed to loving another while not really caring to live it out. They are trying to be someone they are not. Their efforts and actions in love are things they think the other wants in order to win their affection and approval, not things that spring naturally from the heart as part of who they are.
7. The Interested Approach
This person sees love for another as a utility for their purposes, not as a giving of self and respect of a person. They have recourse to you only when they need something, otherwise they have no interest. They love you whenever they can obtain something from you when they want it. They lose patience and show signs of wanting out at even the slightest degree of not getting what they want out of typical relationship experiences (such as discussions, problems, or decisions that have to be made). Their tolerance of you is proportional to the satisfaction of their wants.
All of us can find ourselves in one or more of these. This is because none of us can escape selfishness (the very definition of pride). The more selfish we are, the more prone we are to false love, and the more difficult it is to live out true love.
What is your approach to love? In which of these false approaches do you see yourself? No matter which ones apply to you, it’s never too late to change. Recognizing it is half the battle. But it’s a grace to recognize. We often don’t want to accept when we have a problem, therefore we purposely keep ourselves blind.
Praying for God’s grace to recognize your approaches to false love is a necessity to making progress. Take time before the Blessed Sacrament asking Jesus to open your eyes so you can be observant of false love tendencies and He will surely enlighten you.
Anthony Buono is the founder of Avemariasingles.com. For thousands of Catholic singles, Anthony offers guidance, humor, understanding, and practical relationship advice. Visit his blog at 6stonejars.com.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.