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Can you love someone, but not like them?

This question has been weighing on my heart lately.

It stems from a personal experience of betrayal. One where my hurt feelings are still lingering over a year later. I have done a lot of work on forgiving, releasing, letting go, and finding the silver lining in the sadness, but healing takes time. There is no timeline to be “over” something. You never know when emotions will be triggered, and feelings of sadness reemerge.

What I do know is that it feels better to talk about my experiences with others. Not only does it give voice to the feelings that dwell inside me, but it also allows the opportunity to view the situation from new perspectives.

In relation to the person that betrayed me, I do not wish ill of him. I want him to be happy and have a wonderful life… I just don’t want to be a part of it.

The way he treated me was a deal breaker. I respected myself enough to address the situation, and then walked away from it when no resolution could be made.

Although, it STILL saddens me. It didn’t have to be this way… but it is.

I still see this guy in social situations, but I don’t talk to him. In fact, I hardly even acknowledge his presence. Am I being too harsh? Am I being unkind? Should I forget what transpired between us and break the silence? Is it my pride that is getting in the way? Or is it self love?

These are the thoughts that were circling around my head recently, which is why I turned to friends for guidance. One of my dear friends had the most beautiful perspective. She said:

“Loving people doesn’t mean being a doormat for those who don’t appreciate the worth of who you are, or who don’t respect your expressed values, whether or not they agree with you. Distancing your self from such folk not only honours your own self worth, but challenges the other to self reflect and grow through the experience. Holding onto your own standard will ensure that any reconciliation can heal both parties. Perhaps distancing actually is loving the other person, even though it may not feel like it to either party at the time. I think that’s because this relational, spiritual test offers an invitation to stretch and grow, to observe one’s blind spots. Sadly, sometimes this is too hard for people, at least for a time, for now.”

The idea of distancing myself as an act of love gave me such comfort, and validated my position. It is not okay with me to be treated poorly, and to pretend like nothing happened would be the same as telling him “Yes please. More please.”

Given everything that transpired, can I honestly say that I love this man? Yes. I have love for him as a fellow human being. I forgive him for his actions, even though they hurt me. I’m sure that his course of action was justified in his mind, and that he was doing the best he could with what he knew and where he came from.

I love him because of his humanity. We all stumble, we all fall, we all have less than stellar moments. I’ve seen the good in him too, and have chosen to believe that this was just a poor moment in a lifetime of moments. I’m just not willing to stick around to be a part of his future moments.

I love him because he taught me that I am strong, that I have conviction, and that I hold true to my values.

I love him because he reaffirmed that I am going to continue to trust others and believe that the world is full of good people. He cannot take that away from me because I won’t allow it. If I get hurt in the process, so be it. I will not live my life in fear of having hurt feelings, because life is so much more enjoyable from an optimistic’s point of view.

So yes, I do believe you can love someone, but not like them, or want them to have a role in your life. This doesn’t make you less of a loving or caring person. It means that you are willing to endure uncomfortable situations in order to show yourself true love and respect.

If you wouldn’t treat others poorly, then don’t accept that behavior from anyone else. You are teaching others how to treat you, and sometimes that involves broken hearts, hurt feelings, and awkward moments.

I wish for you a blessed day. Thank you for your time, and for embarking on this little journey into my heart.

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