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Thinking Out

Marissa Alexander

What’s love got to do with it?

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

Tina Turner was a vocal powerhouse, trailblazer, an icon, and a survivor. She will be remembered for her electric presence, strength, courage, and determination. May she Transition In Peace.

I still remember belting out the chorus to Tina’s multi-grammy-winning What’s Love Got to Do With It when I was 4 years old. At the time, I didn’t know the meaning behind the lyrics. As I got older, I would ponder the question for years to come, eventually having to define it for myself through observation, trial, and error.

Tina was 44 years old when the hit single was released. As I approach that prime period of my life I’ve found myself examining whether I truly understand love and what it is and is not. What does it take to merge two lives, perspectives, experiences, and upbringings and live harmoniously? What does it take for a relationship to last, and what, if anything, does LOVE actually have to do with it?

I, like most people, have exes. I’ve had my share of bad relationships. I know some couples that were high school sweethearts, married after graduation, and have stayed together. Others have since separated or divorced. I know a few people who have a lot of dating experience. You know, like practicing to get better at being in a relationship. Some of us are in between relationships or have sworn off dating altogether. All of this makes me realize that relationships are so much more complex than people let on. Getting into a relationship is simple. Sustaining it isn’t so easy.

The world is full of 25-year-old men and women online preaching dating advice to other 25-year-olds. Popular culture, unrealistic relationship goals, and all that nonsense result in more harm than love, which is exactly what we don’t want. Today’s culture doesn’t allow us the space to be imperfect without a great deal of shame. I’ve constantly felt that every relationship has to be perfect all the time. The perfect lives and relationships we see online or in a 2-hour rom-com are fantasies.

My best friend dated enough to eventually find a man she loved. By that time, she was ready to settle down, have children, and build her life with him. She wasn’t a child. She was a woman. Like many of us, we gain an understanding of what love is or isn’t from the environments we grow up in. My parents divorced when I was young. My best friend offered a perspective they couldn’t give me. She’d put in the work on herself, developing a relationship with God, obtaining higher education and a teaching certificate, and more, so that she could be the kind of woman she needed to be for herself first, and then become the wife he deserved.

It was refreshing to get advice from someone who had built a life she was happy with. The biggest epiphany was that I needed to stop thinking relationships must be perfect. Stop thinking I have to be perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist. I’d rather be flawed and loved than perfect and alone.

Here's what I've learned: LOVE does actually have something to do with it - love for yourself and your partner. Love requires respect, forgiveness, patience, gentleness, and understanding.

Live and learn, and don’t forget to love along the way!

~ Marissa


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