There’s this phrase that you may be aware of.

“All you need is love.”

The specific phrase has varied over the years, but this sentence structure, made popular by a certain song, has found its way into our collective consciousness. It is a catch all, end all, be all, motivator to what is truly important in life.

I’m here to be the wet blanket and say that the above statement is wrong.

Yes, love is essential for any relationship based on… well, anything, really. There are partnerships and friendships, working relationships and romantic relationships, but love is the common denominator. Without it, they can’t go the distance. But it’s not a magic elixir that will solve all your problems, nor is it a rocket ship that will blast you off over the turbulent ocean of life, into the stars and beyond. Call me crazy, but that seems like too much pressure for love to live up to. Hell, that’s too much pressure for anything to live up to. Love is not a substitute for happiness, and it’s not a fix for every problem.

But sometimes it’s too much of a temptation not to use love that way, and every time those relationships crash and burn. It’s hard to watch, much less go through. It’s one thing when a couple who’s less than compatible falls apart, but the whole thing becomes horribly more confusing when the people involved love one another clearly and deeply. When you’re in the grip of such a powerful emotion, it’s hard to truly know when you’ve gone astray. When it’s good, it feels so good. How can you pull yourself away and acknowledge everything else that doesn’t work?

I’ve already given the road trip metaphor a workout on this blog, but I’m gonna power through. Not because I see love as an all terrain vehicle that can ascend any mountain. To me, the relationship is the vehicle, and the people in the relationship are the passengers.

Love is the fuel that keeps the vehicle going.

Now, where you drive is up to the passengers inside, and two passengers with different destinations can’t coexist if they can’t decide where to go next. If they can’t negotiate who’s driving, who is keeping an eye on the directions, who gets to use the radio, or if they just can’t stand being in the car that fucking long, it doesn’t matter how much or how good the fuel in the tank is. That trip is going to be a disaster. When the passengers are in sync, on the other hand, that fuel is everything. It keeps you moving. And if you can figure out all those other things, love has the potential to get you anywhere. Even take you places you never thought you would see.

Love comes to us in too many ways to count and in too many forms for me to give any kind of advice on what makes a relationship work. But I do know a few things that you can’t do without. It’s about communication. It’s about knowing what both the vehicle and the passengers need. Listening, discussing, switching off driving duties, and working together with the sole goal of making your relationship work. Because love is not an infinite resource. Every vehicle requires refueling sometimes. And the road is long, the drive seemingly endless. But if you take care of the vehicle and the people inside it, if you’re with someone worth taking that drive with and willing to take it with you…

Love can take you all the way.