Many women are in romantic relationships where there is no love. There might be a lot of romance, but no love. The trap we fall into, thanks to this collective illusion called the myth of romantic love, is precisely that we endure relationships that seem to be about love, but they are not.
For heterosexual women, it's difficult to distinguish between love and violence because the patriarchal culture of love in which we have been raised makes us believe that those who love you well will make you cry, that those who fight the most are the ones who desire each other the most, and that there's only a step from love to hate.
It's a sadomasochistic culture where we are cast as the ones who suffer, and it makes us believe that when a man watches over us, controls us, limits our freedom, and infringes upon our right to privacy, it's "out of love." That without a man's love, we are nothing. That jealousy is a sign of love, that violence is passionate, that mistreatment is "normal" between two beings who love each other. And indeed, they're an everyday occurrence: we live in a very misogynistic and violent culture where we have normalized violence and suffering, and we have become accustomed to and even resigned to the idea that it's impossible to be in a romantic relationship based on mutual respect, pleasure, and companionship.
However, women who no longer endure suffering for the sake of love are tired of enduring mistreatment in the name of love. We are fed up with relationships where we are not happy. We are tired of our role as sacrificing women who endure everything for the sake of love, and we no longer believe the story that there is any love in a patriarchal relationship where we are expected to obey, submit, give up our freedom, and work for free serving the master.
For us, love must be based on pleasure, enjoyment, companionship, solidarity, good treatment, freedom, equality, honesty, and sincerity. We believe that if it hurts, it's not love. We trust our ability to evaluate whether a relationship is making us happy or not, whether it's worthwhile or not, whether it can work or not, and our ability to make decisions if the answer is no. Because we prioritize self-care above any romantic relationship: our health, well-being, and happiness come first.
The best tool for analyzing the relationships we are in is to ask ourselves questions. I invite you to put on the violet glasses with the filters of love and to ask ourselves all the questions that come to mind to try to find out if we are in a relationship where there is love, or if, on the contrary, we are in a relationship based on dependence and need, domination and submission, comfort or self-interest.
We all need to ask these questions together. Here are a few to start with:
- Do you feel fully reciprocated in your relationship? Do you believe both of you are equally excited and have the same enthusiasm and intensity in your feelings?
- Do you feel loved? How does your partner show their love to you?
- If they don't show it, why do you think they don't?
- Do both of you have the same or similar concept of love and the type of partner you would like to have? If the answer is no, are there conditions for loving each other if your preferences don't align?
- Do you feel accepted as you are? Has your partner asked you to change your personality or make changes in your life?
- Do you feel good, happy, and comfortable in your relationship? What percentage of happiness would you assign?
- Do you feel well-treated?
- Do you feel well-treated all the time, most of the time, or only sometimes?
- Do you feel well-treated during conflicts and disagreements?
- How do you treat your partner? Do you notice a significant difference between how they treat you and how you treat them?
- How does he speak about his ex-girlfriends?
- How does he talk about women in general?
- How does he treat the waitress serving you food at the bar?
- Do you believe your partner is a good person?
- Do you think your partner is a good person all the time, with everyone?
- How does he behave with animals?
- Is he sexist? Is he racist, classist, homophobic, lesbophobic, xenophobic? Does he express hate speech?
- Do his actions and words correspond? Is what he says consistent with what he does?
- How many passions and hobbies do you have in common? Is there compatibility between them?
- Does he care about your pleasure, or does he only think about his own?
- Do you believe your partner is eager to enjoy love and sex, or is there any obstacle preventing him from experiencing his relationships with freedom and joy, such as fear?
- Can he listen with love? Does he listen to you with love?
- What are his relationships like with his friends, family, and acquaintances?
- Do you feel that the relationship is easy or difficult? Does love flow, or are you always fighting?
- Has he ever lied to someone in front of you?
- How do you think he sees you? What do his eyes say when he looks at you? What things does he like about you?
- How does he talk about you to others? How does he talk about you to his best friend? Do you like what you're hearing when you imagine it?
- How does he talk to you about yourself? How does he talk about you to others when you are present?
- Has he emotionally opened up in front of you? Has he let you see his inner self? Has he talked about himself and his feelings?
- Who feels happier in the relationship? Who is better off between the two of you, or are you both equally well?
- Do you feel cared for?
- Do you feel cared for all the time, or only sometimes? When you're sick, does he take care of you? Does he help you when you have problems? Does he show concern for you?
- Do you feel you have intimacy and privacy? Do you respect his?
- How does he act when he's stressed or nervous?
- Do you both see yourselves together in the future, or does one of you see themselves outside of the relationship?
- Do you feel free to be yourself, to express yourself, to talk about how you feel, to discuss your desires?
- Do you feel free in the relationship to have your own spaces, your own time?
- How does your people accept your partner? What does he think of your people?
- If your people don't like him, do you think he tries to isolate you or respects your network of affection?
- If his people don't like you, do you think he feels free to interact with his network of affection?
- How does he communicate with you? Who initiates contact first? How long does he take to respond to your messages?
- Does he respect the agreements you've made to be together, or does he often break them?
- Do you believe your partner fully trusts you?
- And you, do you fully trust your partner?
- Do you laugh a lot together? Are you having fun?
- Are you giving up something or sacrificing something?
- If he's a feminist, if he says he's working on patriarchy, is there coherence between his speeches and his actions?
- Is there companionship, equality, and teamwork in your relationship?
- How do you divide the tasks at home, parenting, and caregiving?
- Do both of you enjoy an equal amount of free time?
- How do you organize yourselves financially? Are you supportive of each other? Do you depend on each other for your subsistence? How is the relationship when there's income inequality?
- Does the relationship make up for it? Do you feel that the good things really outweigh the bad?
- Would you like any changes in the relationship? Do you think it's possible for a change to happen?
- Is the relationship better now than at the beginning, or worse?
- Did you imagine your relationship to be like this? How did you dream it?
- Has your relationship turned into a constant exchange of mutual reproaches? Is there fatigue or weariness on both sides?
- What things could improve in the relationship?
- What things would you like to work on in yourself to become a better person and enjoy love?
- And your partner, what could he work on to improve as well? Do you think he has the tools and the willingness to do so?
- How does he talk about himself? How do you perceive his Ego and self-esteem?
- Does he always agree with you, or always contradict you? Does he laugh at all your jokes? Does he position himself below you, above you, or at the same level as you?
- And you, do you position yourself above or below, alternate between positions of domination and submission, or strive for horizontal and egalitarian relationships? What is the percentage of sincerity and honesty in your partner?
- How would your life be if you weren't with your current partner? What would you be doing?
- What would his life be like without you, what would he be doing?
- Does your partner fear being alone?
- And you, do you fear being alone?
- Do you feel bound to your partner by the feelings you have towards them, or by some other economic, contractual, etc., bond?
- Do you believe your partner feels free in this relationship with you?
- Do you trust yourself to know when it's time to end the relationship, if that time comes?
- How do you think he would behave in a breakup? Would he treat you with love, or would he wage war?
Coral Herrera Gómez