We all know love requires trust and love is patient and love is kind blah blah blah. You guys can read all in another article or just watch A Walk to Remember. Below is my unfiltered and candid opinion of my own experiences.
I have to admit, I’ve been working on this piece for a while. And if you want full disclosure here, I’ll probably be revising this as I grow older and (hopefully) wiser. I’m not going to provide background on my love life in order to convince you I’m a credible source because let’s face it. I’m not. Hello!! I’m only 22!! I am not a love guru, nor do I wish to ever be one, and this post is most definitely not a “How To” guide for a successful relationship. But while I’ll be the first to admit there’s still a lot I need to learn, I also know that I’m not an idiot, so I have to have learned something. Here are some of my experiences and lessons learned and because I appreciate you all so much, I’ve compiled them in a list for easier reading.
- Love not a linear path– it goes up and down.
It’s a lot of work to love someone and, admittedly, a lot of heartache.
You often hear countless iterations of “love isn’t complicated. It’s people who make it complicated,” which I think is dumb. Granted, the sentiment is completely valid and has merit BUT you can’t remove an integral part of the equation– people! Without people, there is no love. So if love is an action, it requires someone to act on it; and unless you’re perfect and always make the right choices, love is going to be hard, dude.We’re going to mess up. Life might get in the way. Your partner is probably going to hurt you and you’re not always going to be the same starry-eyed lovers throughout the relationship. Yet, that’s also the best part of it all because the good times become great knowing you’ve both made it through the fire.
- Don’t idolize your partner
When we first meet someone, it’s easy to cast an illusion over them. Infatuation blinds us to flaws. What happens when that illusion fades and we realize that the person we were so obsessed over is, in fact, human? Shocking! I’ve learned that we shouldn’t idolize our partners. The more we put them on a pedestal, the more strain they’ll be under to meet our expectations, which doesn’t leave room for mistakes in the relationship–– or growth. Just let them be human. The rest will work itself out with proper communication and understanding.On the flip side, it’s pointless to try an portray yourself as a “ideal” version of yourself because you’re afraid they’ll leave if they see the ‘real you.’ I’m not saying you should be a bum. But love requires us to be honest with who we are. We weren’t designed to be perfect. We were designed to be better. How can we improve if there’s nothing to work towards?
- If you’re not going to be vulnerable, there’s no point
No one wants to be the first to open up. We never know how the other person is going to react to our flaws and insecurities, but that’s intimacy. That’s love. That’s what makes your person different from all the others– the trust and openness you build with them. Without being vulnerable, they might as well just be another person you pass by on the sidewalk.
- Love is the little things
My first love baked me a cake for my birthday, likely because he didn’t drive and didn’t have a job to buy me anything fancy, but it’s one of my favorite gifts to this day. In my last relationship, my partner dropped me dinner at midnight because she knew I’d been at school all day and hadn’t eaten and likely wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve always felt most loved when my partners reminded me to get off Twitter and finish my paper or when we’d go out to eat and they’d give me the lemon in their water without asking because I love lemons. Such small things but every tiny action was a substantial reminder that they were listening to me. The little things were the reassurances that they loved me.I think social media and viral videos of couples decorating their significant others’ bedrooms with a million balloons and obscene amounts of red roses and lavish gifts has misconstrued the purpose of grand gestures. It’s almost become a competition of “Look what MY partner did and what yours didn’t,” “My relationship is perfect,” or “Get you a man like mine!” Don’t get me wrong– it’s great to have someone go above and beyond for you. But that’s not love. That’s a performance. You can definitely have both, but you shouldn’t confuse the two.
- Love is scary, bro
If you’re anything like me, you’ve subconsciously sabotaged one of your relationships at one point or another for no other reason than you’re afraid. You’ll pull away or push your partner away because you’re scared to fall in love. After all, it’s easier to move on when you didn’t invest any substantial part of yourself. But do it anyways.The worst heartbreak I experienced devastated me. I cried every night for almost a week. Worst of all, I couldn’t listen to music and I live for music. It’s the one thing I start and end my days with. But I’d physically want to throw up when I tried to listen to anything– even sad songs!! Imagine!! But that’s how I knew I had loved him because it hurt that much. Even now, I never want to feel that way again, but I also know that’s probably not going to be the case. Love is a risk. So take it. Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll learn more about who you are, what you want, and what you need and perhaps fall in love with yourself instead in the process. Isn’t that nice?
- Testing your partner’s love for you gets you nowhere.
Don’t test someone’s love. It’s dishonest and if you have test them to prove they love you, then your relationship is lacking. If you have to push them away to see if they’ll come back and fight for you, that’s a lack of trust. It’s not love. If they love you, they’ll show you. They’ll listen to you. They’ll communicate. In the end, we all do what we want to do anyways.
- Love should never feel like it’s at the expense of your own happiness
(My friend actually gave me this one. Thanks, D.)
We romanticize the idea of someone taking care of us first–– of doing everything in the service of those we love most. Which, while noble, without any balance can be extremely burdensome and detrimental down the road. Love requires some sacrifice but love, itself, shouldn’t be one. If it hurts you more than it heals you, is it really worth it?
- Your partner shouldn’t be your everything.
I understand that life is an endless obstacle course with breaks being few and far between and we need people to help us overcome our latest hurdles. We aren’t built to be solitary. We need people to live a life worth living, but we shouldn’t exclusively need one person. No one should be the end all, be all of your entire existence.Yes, spend time with who you love. Give them the best parts of yourself. But love requires space every now and then. Love yourself and your partner enough to recognize that you both need a life outside of each other. Be individuals.
- Soulmates aren’t real/ Love is a choice
Look. I’m not jaded. I don’t think unconditional love is unachievable. I think there are a select few people who’ll fit you better than most, but I definitely don’t think there’s only one person out there for you. If love is a consistent choice you have to make everyday, then you choose a soulmate. You’re not given one by the universe.Here’s a quote that sums up my believe perfectly. A poetry book by Criss Jami once read, “To say that one waits a lifetime for his soulmate to come around is a paradox. People eventually get sick of waiting, take a chance on someone, and by the art of commitment become soulmates, which takes a lifetime to perfect.”
- Finally, Love is a mystery and no one has all the answers.
Even having typed all this out, I know there’s still so much more I don’t know and so much more I need to learn, but life is for the learning inclined and dull without any mysteries. So I’m perfectly okay knowing I don’t have it all figured out.
I realize that a lot of this might come off preachy to some and someone is bound to disagree with me, so let’s have a conversation. What have you guys learned about love so far? Let me know in the comments below.