Written by Laura Tesoriero • November 11, 2021
Laura Tesoriero is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Self-Love and Relationship Coach. In her 8 week coaching program “Journey Into Love” she works one on one with single women to help them to grow their confidence and self-awareness so that they are able to powerfully manifest a soul-nourishing romantic partnership. Through this program, Laura focuses on helping her clients to heal and foster self-love, so that they may become the woman of their dreams, and allow for the partner of their dreams to enter naturally and powerfully into their lives. If you would like to learn more, feel free to contact Laura for a free clarity call to see if her program is a good fit for your journey.
So I'm going to start this "uplifting" blog with a statement that might not appear "uplifting" at all.. and furthermore, an idea that might seem very unlikely to come from a love & relationship coach who is a self-proclaimed die-hard romantic.
Are you ready?
Love is not enough.
Hang on a sec...let me say it a little louder for the folks in the back:
LOVE....IS.... NOT.... ENOUGH!!
At least not when it comes to developing a healthy, soul-nourishing, long-lasting relationship with another human being.
Since coming to this realization and having it truly sink in on a deep level, I often feel like I want to scream it from a mountaintop. Or yell it a little too enthusiastically while grabbing the shoulders of some of my loved ones and shaking them vigorously. But I don't have a mountaintop, and I don't want to be put away for assault, and so I will just put it out there for the world to see in this blog post instead.
I think back to the first serious relationship I was ever in. He and I had been best friends since we were 13 years old- and my romantic feelings had been growing towards him since then as well. Just before I went to college, when he finally told me that he had feelings for me too, I thought that this was it- this was going to be my grand love story. I was only 17 years old, but I was deeply, deeply in love with him. We literally grew up together. And I mean, come on, this was the stuff of books and movies! Best friends turned lovers?? What could possibly go wrong?!?
Well, as it turned out, A LOT could go wrong. And it did. Our relationship lasted about 2.5 years, with a lot of on-and-off periods in between. And throughout the course of the relationship, we brought out the absolute worst in each other. Looking back on it, I think we were both probably deeply insecure at that time, but I wore my insecurities right there on my sleeve. At the same time, he buried his deep down underneath layers of hostility, stubbornness, and an overwhelming need to be right. At best, I was overlooked and undervalued. At worst, I was shamed, humiliated, and afraid of speaking my mind for fear of getting yelled at or starting a fight for which I wasn't equipped.
The dynamic was absolutely toxic. It took me years to realize that what I had been putting up with throughout the course of that relationship was emotional abuse. (Side note- if you find yourself in a relationship where you are just PRAYING for the day that he will lose control of his temper enough to hit you so that you can feel justified in leaving, there is a good chance that what you are experiencing is emotional abuse. And you do not need to wait for that final blow to walk away.)
So what was it that kept me around? I spent much of the relationship in tears. Pretty much all of my friends hated him and the way he treated me. I was constantly walking on eggshells and trying to shift my behavior and personality to fit what he wanted me to be. I wasn't even getting a fraction of the affection and attention I needed to feel happy and secure in a relationship. To the outside eye, there was absolutely nothing in it for me…
But...I loved him.
I loved him more than I had ever loved anyone in my life. I loved him more than I knew it was possible for one person to love another. After spending our formative years on the phone for hours and hours every night, no one on earth knew him better than I did and vice versa. And I saw all of the good in him, even through the bad times. It felt like walking away from him was never an option because if he said that he wanted me, I couldn't resist him. He had a serious hold on me- and that hold was this love that we had. And beyond all of the negativity he brought to my life and all the times he mistreated or belittled me, I believe that he loved me too, in the best way that he was capable of loving me at the time.
Now I would LOVE to tell you all that eventually I was able to walk away because the veil had been lifted from my eyes, I decided to be strong and take a stand for myself, or I finally realized my self-worth… something empowering or inspiring like that. The truth is, at the tender age of 20, I had not done enough healing yet for the story to have ended on such a positive note. The truth is, I left him to pursue another man who had expressed interest in me at the time (spoiler alert- the next man was just as toxic for me, if not more so...perhaps this is where I should mention that at that time, I was lacking a foundation of self-love, and a big part of the reason I clung to whatever scraps of love that were thrown my way was the fact that I didn't know at the time that I was worthy of anything more. But I was. (We all are!)
Thankfully, over the subsequent decade of my life, I experienced a lot of learning, growing, and reflecting that led me to my current place of being. The place where I realize that I was clinging so hard to that love that I let it tear me apart and take me so far away from myself that for a moment, I thought I would never find my way back. And now I realize that I clung to that love because I thought love was the most important thing for a relationship to sustain itself, and I believed that if the love between two people is real, well, then dammit, it's worth fighting for at all costs.
But the truth is, the existence of love in a relationship does not inherently make it worth fighting for-and CERTAINLY not at all costs. Two people can love each other and yet still decide that it is better to practice that love at a safe distance from one another. Because a person can be deeply in love with their partner- and yet be so lost within their own trauma patterns and internal turmoil that they are only capable of expressing that love through dynamics of power & control, unhealthy and harmful communication patterns, and emotional manipulation.
Think of a relationship like a cupcake (because it's a good metaphor, AND because I am obsessed with cupcakes..)
Love is like sugar... If you have all the other ingredients (the flour, the egg, the milk, the butter, etc.) but you leave out the sugar- well, you've got some kind of cake, I guess, but it just doesn't have any sweetness to it (sad times).
But if you tried to bake a cupcake entirely out of sugar, you're just going to have a disappointing mess on your hands that will leave you with nothing but a belly ache.
Love is the essential ingredient if you want to have that ooey-gooey yummy delicious love relationship that romantics like me have dreamed about our whole lives. But the other components are just as important: respect, trust, aligned values and ambitions, honesty, and healthy communication. Without those ingredients, your love runs the risk of making you sick, sucking your energy dry, and robbing you of the peace & joy you want, need, and deserve in life.
Don't get me wrong- I know in my heart and soul that love is absolutely the most powerful force that exists in the universe. It deserves to be honored and revered. There is a reason why so many people are looking to find love and hoping to welcome its blessings into their lives. The power of love can turn dreams into reality and create life and abundance! That kind of soul-nourishing love is ABSOLUTELY worth fighting for, and it is the kind of love that I work with my clients to manifest in their lives.
But the power of love also has the potential to cause significant pain and destruction. So if you are on that journey to find love, you must start with a strong foundation of self-love and know the difference between soul-nourishing love and toxic love. And if love is the ONLY reason you are standing by an abusive or toxic partner, then the best thing you can do for your heart and soul is get out as soon as you possibly can. And if after you leave them, you still find yourself loving them, then great you have my full permission to do so, as long as you do it from a very, very, very great distance. A significant enough distance to allow for something else that is more beautiful and fulfilling to find its way into your atmosphere.