"A healthy relationship brings joy—not just some of the time but most of the time."
I was clearing out a drawer the other day and came across 12 pages that stopped me in my tracks. It was a looove letter I'd written but never sent (thank God) to a guy I was dating. I was 29 at the time, desperate and obsessed with this man. It was 12 pages of whinin' and pinin' so pathetic that I didn't recognize myself. And though I've kept my journals going all the way back to age 15, I held my own burning ceremony for this testament to what I thought was love. I wanted no written record that I was ever that pitiful and disconnected from myself. The guy was just not that into me, and I couldn't see it.
When Sex and the City consultant Greg Behrendt appeared on my show last fall, he spawned a revolution with those words: He's just not that into you. Greg told the women in the audience one by one that they were giving themselves up for men who clearly didn't give two hoots about them. And one by one, the women admitted that they'd been settling for crumbs.
I was rootin' for Greg because I now know that a relationship built on real love feels good. It isn't selfish; it doesn't cause you anxiety. When someone really loves you, he understands that you're lovable just because you're here. How he treats you underscores that understanding.
Yes, a relationship requires work. But if it's healthy, it should bring you joy—not just some of the time but most of the time. It should never require losing your voice, your self-respect, or your dignity. And whether you're 25 or 65, it should involve bringing all of who you are to the table—and walking away with even more.
I know for sure that in the final analysis of our lives—when the to-do lists are no more, when the frenzy is finished, when our e-mail boxes are empty—the only thing that will have any lasting value is whether we've loved others and whether they've loved us.