Tonight I came across a tweet of a Deneuve quote: “If you love them, you worry about them.”

While I understand what she was getting at, I highly disagree. If a person equates being loved with being worried about, they will continually unconsciously manufacture personal crises in order to elicit the feeling of being loved, and they will never let themselves feel ok, because to feel ok would mean losing being worried about, which would mean losing feeling loved. If you must worry about someone to express your love for them, you are complicit in holding them back from achieving stability and happiness. 

I for one have made the decision not to worry about my loved ones, and I’ve found much more peace because of it. I trust them to know their own paths and to enlist my help and support when they need it. It’s important to treat the people we care about like adults. Otherwise we rob them of autonomy. You can give love, care, nurturing, affection, and support without freaking out about them.

Consider this: how many times have you tried “helping” when really what you were attempting was “controlling,” because you felt you were better equipped than they were to handle their problems? This behavior, more common than most of us like to admit, creates a dynamic where you feel you know what’s best for your loved ones better than they themselves do. And chances are you’re just doing that for two reasons: a) to avoid doing your own work on yourself because critiquing others is easier than looking in the mirror, and b) to block yourself from receiving care from them in return by putting yourself firmly in the role of helper.

It’s one thing to say “Hey it looks like you’re going through a rough time. I’m here if you need support. Please don’t hesitate to let me know what I can do.” But if you attempt to micromanage their process (and let’s be real, that’s what worry is), then you’re telling them that your way of doing things is better. In a time of personal crisis, it’s okay to make exceptions if that person is rendered temporarily incapable of functioning due to trauma or illness and if you have the kind of personal relationship where that sort of trust is a given. But if that behavior becomes a consistent factor in your relationship with them, it blocks you from creating a friendship or relationship on equal footing, which means it isn’t likely to last long or be very satisfying for anyone involved.