Reality Check: What Does Love & Support Look Like?

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so along with eating heart-shaped candies and buying heart-shaped jewellery, it seems like an appropriate time to think about love.
What does love and support look like to you? If you buy into some movie versions, you might picture love as wining, dining, and dancing on beaches. That bliss is complicated by misunderstandings, possessiveness, and bouts of jealousy, and may perhaps ultimately be rescued in a dramatic happy ending.
Even if you don’t buy into love as shown in movies, love and drama seem to be inextricably linked for some.
Mariana’s boyfriend, Mick, expresses his love regularly with sentiments such as, “I can’t bear to be without you for even a moment. When I’m not with you, I suffer in angst. And when we are together, I need your full attention focused on me.”
Recently, Mariana was selected to work on an important project. It will demand long hours, require her to learn new information, and work with new people. If she does well, this could lead to the career breakthrough she wants so much. Mariana is both frightened and excited as she explains to Mick how very important this opportunity is for her.
Mick constantly tells Mariana how much he loves and supports her. Mick is so loving and supportive that he calls her when she is busy at work. He interrupts meetings to tell her how much he misses her. Mick loves her so much he can’t leave her alone to study in the evenings. He supports Mariana consistently by telling her that she is working too hard; that she needs to take a break and have some fun with him.
Mariana is touched by Mick’s frequent and passionate declarations of love and support. She is so touched that she feels guilty as she pulls away from him to go to work, or when she stays up late at night to prepare for the next day.
And Mariana wonders, “Why, when I am so thoroughly and completely loved and supported, am I always feeling stressed and torn between competing needs?”
One suggestion for Mariana is to ask, “Are the words of love I am hearing consistent with the actions of love that I am seeing?”
If they are, then you have a valuable piece of information.
However, if the words and actions seem to be not quite in harmony, then that tells a different story, doesn’t it?
So, although Mick is telling Mariana that he supports her, his actions seem to indicate the opposite.
Perhaps love is as love does.
So, what might love and support look like? For Mick, loving Mariana could be sitting with her and helping her with her studies, rather than trying to distract her and drag her away. Perhaps it’s bringing her dinner to work or looking up information for her. Maybe the most supportive thing Mick can do is reassure her that even though they don’t have time to be together now, he is there for her whenever she needs him.
What do you think love and support looks like?

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