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Love is Not In The Little Things

by | February 17, 2018

I read so many quotes, like the ones pictured in the memes below, that talk about how love is in the little things. Or, how the little things are proof of love and evidence of why you should stay with your partner. Although the little things are important and make love sweeter, people often place more importance on them than they deserve, and get side-tracked from what really matters.

You know the little things they’re talking about. The little things like the way he (or she) sweetly places the linen napkin on your lap when the two of you are out to dinner. The way he remembers exactly how you like your Venti Iced Skinny Hazelnut Macchiato, Sugar-Free Syrup, Extra Shot, Light Ice, No Whip coffee from Starbucks after hearing you order it the first time. The way he always offers you the bigger piece of cake every time the two of you share dessert. The way he is able to recall your beloved childhood dog’s name that you had mentioned months ago on your first date. The yellow sticky notes he leaves hidden in your purse or laptop computer telling you how much he loves you. The way he never fails to help you put your coat on even though you can do it yourself. Or, the way he posts gushy, lovey-dovey comments about how much he loves you on social media.

I’m here to tell you that all the sweet and caring gestures are not what love is about. You can’t measure love by the sum of sweet gestures. Love, real love, is not in the details. The little things don’t prove love. They only augment and compliment love. The little things are wonderful and important, but they do not equal love.

I’ll tell you why.

The sweet gestures are thoughtful, but let’s face it, they’re easy. Love, on the other hand, takes effort and is hard work. In my opinion, love is in the big things. Love is compromising when you don’t want to. It’s the ability to put someone else’s needs above your own. It’s fighting fair when bringing up the past could score you a win. It’s being there for your partner during the tough, messy times. It’s honoring your commitments and your word. It’s unwavering loyalty and devotion. It’s not sweating the small stuff and nagging your partner about toothpaste caps and water spots on the counter. It’s not having to always be right or have the last word. It’s being able to set aside your pride and apologize when you’re wrong. It’s taking responsibility for your actions. It’s risking being vulnerable. It’s wanting the best for your partner and supporting their goals and dreams. It’s building your partner up and being their soft place to fall.

In the absence of the big things, the little things are meaningless. They are just pomp and circumstance. Toxic people and con artists are masters at fooling and distracting people from focusing on the things that matter with showy displays of sweet but easy and relatively effortless gestures. Don’t be blinded by little gestures. Don’t let the little things help you justify staying in the relationship when he’s failing to deliver on the big things. Don’t be so distracted by all the little things that you pardon the hard stuff. Don’t be misled into believing that he (or she) has what it takes to be a good, life-long partner because he remembers your favorite color or records your favorite show when you’re not home. Those little things may be thoughtful, but when the big things are missing or deficient, the little things become a bunch of romantic hyperbole. The steady, unfaltering presence of the big things is what makes the little things meaningful and genuine.

The single most important choice you will ever make that will directly affect your mental and physical health, and ultimately your future happiness is who you choose as your mate. So, look for the big gestures. Look for effort over quick and easy actions. Look for the stuff that demonstrates character rather than romance. Find someone who remembers to fight fair, and fights for your relationship when things get heated. Someone who will be there for the long haul and will have your back during difficult times. Someone who you can depend on and treats you as a priority, consistently. Someone who places the health of the relationship above their own needs or ego. The little things surely make love sweeter but they’re not what’s going to carry a relationship or bring you contentment in the long run.

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Bree Bonchay, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist with over 18 years of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships. Her articles have been featured in major online magazines and she has appeared on radio as a guest expert.
She is a dedicated advocate, educator and facilitates survivor support groups and workshops.

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I read so many quotes, like the ones pictured in the memes below, that talk about how love is in the little things. Or, how the little things are proof of love and evidence of why you should stay with your partner. Although the little things are important and make love sweeter, people often place more importance on them than they deserve, and get side-tracked from what really matters.

You know the little things they’re talking about. The little things like the way he (or she) sweetly places the linen napkin on your lap when the two of you are out to dinner. The way he remembers exactly how you like your Venti Iced Skinny Hazelnut Macchiato, Sugar-Free Syrup, Extra Shot, Light Ice, No Whip coffee from Starbucks after hearing you order it the first time. The way he always offers you the bigger piece of cake every time the two of you share dessert. The way he is able to recall your beloved childhood dog’s name that you had mentioned months ago on your first date. The yellow sticky notes he leaves hidden in your purse or laptop computer telling you how much he loves you. The way he never fails to help you put your coat on even though you can do it yourself. Or, the way he posts gushy, lovey-dovey comments about how much he loves you on social media.

I’m here to tell you that all the sweet and caring gestures are not what love is about. You can’t measure love by the sum of sweet gestures. Love, real love, is not in the details. The little things don’t prove love. They only augment and compliment love. The little things are wonderful and important, but they do not equal love.

I’ll tell you why.

The sweet gestures are thoughtful, but let’s face it, they’re easy. Love, on the other hand, takes effort and is hard work. In my opinion, love is in the big things. Love is compromising when you don’t want to. It’s the ability to put someone else’s needs above your own. It’s fighting fair when bringing up the past could score you a win. It’s being there for your partner during the tough, messy times. It’s honoring your commitments and your word. It’s unwavering loyalty and devotion. It’s not sweating the small stuff and nagging your partner about toothpaste caps and water spots on the counter. It’s not having to always be right or have the last word. It’s being able to set aside your pride and apologize when you’re wrong. It’s taking responsibility for your actions. It’s risking being vulnerable. It’s wanting the best for your partner and supporting their goals and dreams. It’s building your partner up and being their soft place to fall.

In the absence of the big things, the little things are meaningless. They are just pomp and circumstance. Toxic people and con artists are masters at fooling and distracting people from focusing on the things that matter with showy displays of sweet but easy and relatively effortless gestures. Don’t be blinded by little gestures. Don’t let the little things help you justify staying in the relationship when he’s failing to deliver on the big things. Don’t be so distracted by all the little things that you pardon the hard stuff. Don’t be misled into believing that he (or she) has what it takes to be a good, life-long partner because he remembers your favorite color or records your favorite show when you’re not home. Those little things may be thoughtful, but when the big things are missing or deficient, the little things become a bunch of romantic hyperbole. The steady, unfaltering presence of the big things is what makes the little things meaningful and genuine.

The single most important choice you will ever make that will directly affect your mental and physical health, and ultimately your future happiness is who you choose as your mate. So, look for the big gestures. Look for effort over quick and easy actions. Look for the stuff that demonstrates character rather than romance. Find someone who remembers to fight fair, and fights for your relationship when things get heated. Someone who will be there for the long haul and will have your back during difficult times. Someone who you can depend on and treats you as a priority, consistently. Someone who places the health of the relationship above their own needs or ego. The little things surely make love sweeter but they’re not what’s going to carry a relationship or bring you contentment in the long run.

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My blood pressure rises every time I see quotes or memes like the one below, especially when they are written by individuals who provide relationship advice like the writer of the one included in this post.There are so many horrendous inaccuracies and faulty assumptions in the meme/statement below.And, sadly it’s these types of memes/beliefs that contribute to keeping narcissistic abuse victims stuck in and returning to abusive relationships. Statements like these echo the very WORDS of abusers. If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you know.Words that are deliberately delivered to distract the attention away from the abuser’s behavior and keep the victim focused on his/her alleged flaws. Also, if the statement was true, why is it that manipulative and controlling people are often not fooled or easily controlled by other manipulators?Is it because manipulative people have healthy self-love?Is it because they’re emotionally healthy and sovereign?Of course not. It’s because they can easily spot the tactics that they themselves use. Simple.When dangerous advice and memes like this are so negligently tossed around, it’s no wonder why there are so many victims of manipulators.This type of advice offers the wrong diagnosis, the wrong solution, and gives individuals a false sense of protection.Let’s remember that manipulation by its nature means that manipulation is invisible and occurs just below the level of consciousness. If manipulation could be easily detected, then it wouldn’t be manipulation. It would be obvious.I’m not knocking self-love. It’s critical to well-being, but if you’ve been in an abusive relationship for any length of time, your self-confidence and self-esteem has surely been attacked and insidiously diminished, meaning it’s inevitable that your self-love will suffer.If you know anything about manipulators and controllers, then you know that many of their victims are targeted for what they have, not for what they lack. And, according to research from The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction, many narcissistic abuse survivors have the same cluster of trait elevations- agreeableness, conscienceness and openness/empathy.So, if you’ve been the victim of someone who is highly manipulative, controlling, and/or has a personality disorder that impairs their empathy or conscience, don’t assume it’s because you’re lacking anything. Instead, consider what you have in abundance.Even the leading expert in psychopathy, Dr. Robert Hare, has said that he can still be fooled and conned.We need to get the correct information and helpful advice out there. That’s why I’m including a book plug in this post.If you are stuck in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, check out Kristen Milstead’s book, “Why Can't I Just Leave: A Guide to Waking Up and Walking Out of a Pathological Love Relationship”.Kristen asked me if I would review her book and here’s what I had to say:"Kristen Milstead provides a social psychological analysis of narcissistic abuse using the empathetic voice of a survivor. Survivors who read this book will be able to trust the "lightbulb" moments this rare perspective offers." Kristen has a doctorate in sociology and uses the stories of survivors and social psychological research on compliance, cognitive dissonance, and thought control.Here’s what the description on Amazon says, “Why Can’t I Just Leave? explains how relationships with pathological partners can create impossible dilemmas that trap you in a distorted dream-state and hijack your thoughts and emotions. Learn what those who are conscience-impaired don’t want you to know and find out how to wake up and walk out of your partner’s invisible prison forever.”Let’s empower ourselves and others and make 2022 the best year yet! XO ... See MoreSee Less
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Thank you, Grow Theraoy, for my #livelyroot Money Tree plant. 🌱 I think it looks great in my office. ... See MoreSee Less
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💯 🎯💯🎯💯🎯💯🎯💯🎯💯And, it’s equally not helpful to say “it takes two to tango”. #narcissisticabuseawareness #wnaad #ifmywoundswerevisible #narcissisticabuserecovery #narcissisticabuse #coercivecontrol ... See MoreSee Less
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“Have you been in a relationship with someone you think had narcissistic and/or psychopathic traits? If you are 21 years old and over and reside in the United States, you are eligible to participate in a research study investigating the impact of romantic relationships with narcissists and psychopaths. You can use the link: tinyurl.com/narcissist-survey to take the survey. The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of the psychological well-being and trauma-related symptoms of those who have been involved in romantic relationships with individuals with narcissistic and psychopathic traits. You will take an anonymous survey which will request basic demographic information, ask you to self-report on scales concerning information about your past relationship experiences, trauma and abuse experiences, the personality characteristics of an ex-partner or current partner you believe had narcissistic, and/or psychopathic traits, and trauma-related symptoms.Please note: this is a study conducted by Shahida Arabi, a graduate student at Harvard University. I am not affiliated in any way with the research being conducted nor am I part of the research study team. You are not obligated to take part in this study and should do so only out of your own interest in contributing to this research. You will not be paid for your participation or receive any benefits from me for taking part in the survey. All questions and concerns regarding the study can be directed to the principal investigator.”Thank you so much! ... See MoreSee Less
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Get the book

‘I Am Free” is both a cautionary warning and illuminating light. It empowers readers dealing with the aftermath of a toxic relationship and serves as a wake-up call to those who are in-or think they may be in- an abusive relationship with a narcissists or sociopath.

Get the book

‘I Am Free” is both a cautionary warning and illuminating light. It empowers readers dealing with the aftermath of a toxic relationship and serves as a wake-up call to those who are in-or think they may be in- an abusive relationship with a narcissists or sociopath.

About me

Bree Bonchay, MSW, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist with two decades of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy in her blog, FreeFromToxic. She is the author of the book, “I Am Free” and has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a board member of the Association for NPD/Psychopathy Educators & Survivor Treatment, a member of the International Association of Trauma Specialists, and is also the founder of WNAAD.

About me

Bree Bonchay, MSW, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist with two decades of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy in her blog, FreeFromToxic. She is the author of the book, “I Am Free” and has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a board member of the Association for NPD/Psychopathy Educators & Survivor Treatment, a member of the International Association of Trauma Specialists, and is also the founder of WNAAD.

1 Comment

  1. Remembering Lives

    Fantastic advice Bree. Yes the little things are nice but if somebody is not there in a crisis, those small gestures are ultimately meaningless.

    Reply

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Copyright © 2021 - Bree Bonchay/ Free From Toxic ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No material on this website may be reproduced in any format without prior written permission of Bree Bonchay.

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Copyright © 2021 - Bree Bonchay/ Free From Toxic ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No material on this website may be reproduced in any format without prior written permission of Bree Bonchay.