“I know you love me, but do you like me?”

If you’re anything like me, you LOVE some good ole’ ratchet reality television shows. One of my newer favorites is Family Reunion: Love & Hip Hop Edition. Airing on VH1, Monday nights @ 8pm, the show features cast members from each of the franchise’s selected cities. The idea is that the cast members from different locations come together to discuss relevant topics – including music, marriage/divorce, healing, entrepreneurship, and the BLM movement. On Episode 3 of the series, artists Yung Joc, Fizz, Ray J, Scrappy, and Mendeecees can be seen having a conversation about relationships. In reference to his wife, Ray J was filmed saying, “I know she loves me, but do you like me?” This scene really got my mind wondering.

In conversation with many friends and throughout social media, I’ve observed so many people talk about their desire for “real love.” Whenever I ask what classifies as real love, people mention some variation of loyalty, respect, and trust. Recently, I’ve taken a step back to evaluate my own relationships with the people around me (platonic and romantic). One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I have a habit of dismissing my own feelings and desires in order to please others. This is a toxic, self-sabotaging trait. It can show up in a variety of ways, one in particular is when I dim my personality in fear that it is too big or too much. There are times I don’t laugh as loud, smile as much, respond to certain things, or speak my mind simply because I’m afraid of how I’ll be received.

Ray J questioning whether his wife likes him is powerful. In my opinion it poses the question of which is more important – to be loved or to be liked? Loving someone is easy, especially once you’ve known them for a long time. It is easy to find a comfortability or closeness to a person. But liking them? That’s a totally different thing. I want to be liked by those close to me. I want to be my authentic self without ever worrying about how they feel about it. Liking and enjoying laughing with a person, their personality, how they treat you, the conversations you have, a person’s character – those things hold more weight than just loving them. As I have been reframing the circles I hang in and the people I give my time to – asking, “Do I like them? Do they really like me?” has been a distinguishing factor in who I consider to be friends versus associates.

Love can be lost and found. Love is often referred to as a decision to feel a certain level of affection for a person. However, like is an unconscious emotion – you literally either like it or you don’t. In order to make relationships of any kind sustainable, love is never enough – it must be paired with attributes of emotional intimacy, which develop when you truly like a person. In summary, choose people who choose you for who you truly are, worry about love later!

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