This material was written by a Dallas College licensed counselor. All views expressed in this piece are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dallas College.
February brings Valentine’s Day, meaning it’s the love month; the month when the media make us think about love all month whether we want to or not.
Why is love so dang important? There are songs, movies, studies and articles (like this one!) about love. Why do we spend so much time, energy and money on it? Why do we want, seek and need love?
Human beings are social creatures. We want to be with other humans and share with them, so we seek to be especially close to one particular person and share our lives with them. Then, we grow more familiar and comfortable with them and feel safer and safer with them.
We all seek to be a part of something bigger than ourselves – part of a nation, a sports team, a family, etc. And a couple serves that function; it feels much bigger and more important than just being alone. You feel like you have a home and a place to feel relaxed, safe and at peace.
We seek to feel that we are OK, that we are accepted and wanted. Being loved is the ultimate form of being wanted, accepted, and told that we are good enough. It makes us feel good, or at least better, about ourselves.
This is a tricky one because we can want different people for various reasons. One is that they are like us and have similar interests, values or goals. That affirms us and makes us feel better about ourselves.
The other is that they are different somehow, but in a manner that makes us feel more complete. They complement each other. And the combination of ways we are similar and different with a particular person forms a unique bond with the person; they love us and we uniquely love them.
In short, being loved makes us feel better about ourselves and life.
There isn’t anything wrong with that because it’s natural human needs and wants. However, this can go in the wrong direction.
It is natural to want closeness and sharing, but what if one partner wants to be with the other all the time? Then they wouldn’t have time to grow and learn and become more fully themselves. That can be stifling and suffocating.
We want to be in a relationship, but what if our partner wants us to belong only to them? They might become so possessive or jealous that we cannot have other healthy relationships. Too much of a need for belonging by one partner can lead to isolation for the other partner.
Having our partner be the most affirming and supportive person in our lives is normal and healthy. But, love can make us overly dependent. So if we don’t receive that affirmation constantly, loudly and clearly, we may not feel good about ourselves because we’re too reliant on said partner.
What started as wonderful can eventually become problematic to the point where it may prevent both you and your partner from growing and thriving. Or perhaps what were complimentary differences become sources of annoyance and contention. What was once helpful and endearing could become irritable.
Ideally, you’re able to keep these natural and powerful needs in a healthy zone instead of letting them drift into unhealthy areas. Keeping an eye on them in ourselves and our partner is helpful. Checking in with each other and talking about these things can also be incredibly helpful, so we are both getting our needs met.
There are helpful articles and books available for these. Your local, friendly Dallas College counselor can point you to some that best fit your situation and personality, and these counselors can serve as guides and sounding boards to talk about and explore these areas.
You’ll hear about love all month long! Wanting and needing love is natural and normal. Nurture it and keep it healthy, and love will help make your life more meaningful and joyful for a very long time.
Written by Dr. Jesse Gonzalez, personal counselor at Dallas College
Dallas College Free Online Counseling for Students
Do you need to speak to someone about something you’re dealing with? At Dallas College, we never want you to feel alone. Our certified, professional counselors are here to help you — for free!
Our team offers virtual, one-on-one sessions for any student currently enrolled in Spring 2021 classes. To get started, all you need to do is contact your campus Counseling Center at the email address listed below:
Please note: If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 911 or visit the nearest hospital emergency room rather than requesting an online counseling session.
Interactive Sessions by Topic
Our counselors also offer various psychoeducational workshops and the Let’s Talk Series to assist students in developing academic skills, exploring career options, making career decisions and growing as a person. These interactive sessions are free and available just about every week!
Discover all the events we have planned (so far!) for this semester by visiting our Counseling Workshops and Events page.
Our team of Dallas College counselors also proudly support TAO (Therapy Assistance Online) as a helpful, free resource that offers more than 150 brief, interactive sessions on various topics such as mental health, wellness and substance abuse. Check out the following sessions that are available on-demand:
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Community Mental Health Resources Available in Our Area
- North Texas Behavioral Health Authority can help pay for community psychiatric, mental health and substance abuse services — please call 214-366-9407.
- Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas — please call 214-828-1000.
- National Veterans Crisis Line — please call 800-273-8255 and press 1.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline — please call 800-799-7233.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline — please call 800-656-4673.
- Message 741741 from anywhere in the United States to text with a trained crisis counselor. Heads up — standard messaging rates may apply.
It’s okay to say. Our college encourages and supports all students and employees in their efforts to openly talk about mental health. Even if you’re not dealing with a specific mental health issue, chances are someone you know is. If you see something that could be helpful to someone else, spread the word and share this information.