If I’m honest, this idea of emotional security or safety is relatively new to me. Growing up, I always thought the goal of any romantic relationship was to fall madly and deeply “in love.” And it didn’t matter if that ‘love’ was kind to me, if that ‘love’ respected me, or really if that ‘love’ was even reciprocated. As long as I was “in it”, it was right…or something like that.
So a couple of days ago, I did something that I’ve never ever done before in my forty plus years of life. I went to the dictionary and I actually looked up the definition of the word love. And let me tell you, the words that stared back at me left me absolutely stunned. According to the Oxford dictionary, love is defined simply as “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Really?? That’s it?! Talk about underwhelming.
And since I was already on this self-induced path to enlightenment, I decided to do something else I’ve never done before in my life. I went back to that same dictionary and I looked up the definition of the word safety. And I kid you not, as I read the words from the page I immediately started to hear the sound “ding, ding, ding” go off in my head. According to our dear friend Oxford, safety is defined as “the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury.” And in the words of the lyrical poet Bruno Mars, I must admit “That’s what I like. That’s what I like.”
Listen, this whole ‘intense feeling of deep affection’ sounds cool and all, but what this lady really wants is someone who will protect her heart, her trust, her emotions. That’s right – call it maturity, call it priorities, call it an awakening – but what I really and truly want from a romantic relationship is an intense feeling of, you guessed it, emotional safety.
And look I realize that safety doesn’t sound quite as desirable as love. And nobody ever said, you know what, I really need to update my playlist of “safety songs.” And I’m almost certain that no one ever set down to write a soul stirring collection of “safety poems.”
I get all that, believe me I do. And just so I’m clear, I still want that deep affection. I really do. But I would just venture to say that it’s very possible for someone to have this intense feeling for you but have absolutely no desire or ability to protect your heart or emotions. Trust me, I’m telling you what I know, not what I heard or read about. But in contrast, if someone is willing to do whatever it takes to protect you from danger, risk, or injury – especially when it comes to matters of the heart or emotions – I think that’s a pretty good sign that the brother or sister has some pretty intense feelings for you.
Case in point, there’s this amazing man that has a tendency to either greet me or send me off with a kiss on my forehead. And when I tell you, that kiss sends a chill down my spine. I mean really, there are no words. But as special and sweet and even affectionate as those forehead kisses are (#wordsithoughtidneversay), what I adore most about his presence is that I always, one thousand percent of the time, feel safe. He could stop those kisses, although I know he never will, and I would still remain at his side. But the moment I start to feel anything less than protected – again especially when it comes to matters of my heart, trust, and emotions – now that is when I’d probably start holding auditions for his replacement. I’m just saying.
So in closing, do I want both? Do I expect both? Absolutely. But if there’s ever a choice to be made between emotional safety or love. Then my unequivocal response is “I’ll take emotional safety for $1,000 Alex.”
And for what it’s worth, I also think it’s time we stop focusing on romanticizing relationships and instead, redefine what it means to have a substantive partnership. The former will keep you happy for a few moments, but the latter will keep you protected for a lifetime.
What say you? Are you #TeamSafety or #TeamLove. Let me know in the comments.