I used to believe in the romanticized version of love that music often sings about; love that breaks your heart, and shatters your soul, and leaves you broken and crying on the bathroom floor. This addictive, painful love that is supposedly stronger than anything- this isn't love. This is some dark, twisted version of love that only ends in destruction.
I had this kind of love. I often thought of it as passionate, and now I can see it for what it really was- toxic.
About a month ago, I met a boy who started making me question the idea of love- how we interpret it, how we feel it, how we define it. If you read my "Let's Get Coffee" series, you too, have met this boy. I introduced him as a safe house.
I started wondering if I was in love with this boy. I had only known him for a few weeks- I thought love only happened that quickly when it was scripted for a movie. But then, this required me to ask, what is love? Maybe our society has too many rules and too many expectations for what the timeline of a relationship is supposed to look like. "This many dates before sex...this long before you can meet the family...this long before you can spend X amount of money on a gift...this long before you can say 'I love you'...this long before you can get engaged..."
My previous relationship was two years long. We followed that traditional timeline- we became exclusive after a couple months, we said our "I love you"'s after four months, I met the parents after a year, we moved in together after two years...and look where we are now. Following that timeline didn't save my relationship, nor did it make the love any more real.
The truth is, our future's never quite aligned. We were never quite right for each other, and I knew that. I was never truly sure of him. And yet, this boy that I met a month ago, for some reason, makes perfect sense to me. I am so sure of him.
There's that old saying that goes "when you know, you just know", and it never made any sense to me until I met this boy.
Love should feel wild, and exciting, and explosive, but it should not hurt. Love should never make you feel insignificant. Love should not break you.
I’m starting to believe that the core of a person doesn’t change. We can work on being more open-minded, we can practice patience, we can grow individually. But at the center of that, is a set of values that may never change. Maybe love is finding someone who you don’t want to change. I often used to look at relationships like projects, and maybe that is why they never worked out. Why do we spend all this time trying to change someone, instead of meeting someone else who already possesses the qualities we want? This is not to say that every relationship does not require hard work and compromise- it does. But there is a certain point where you have to ask yourself, "Why did I choose to be with someone who I just want to change?"
I am also sick of people telling me that my feelings are less valid, or less real, or less solidified, because I am young. Lots of people marry young, and make their marriages work. Lots of people don't get married until their 30s or 40s, and still end up getting divorced. Maybe, when you know, you just know.
I don't pretend to understand love, but I know that what I feel doesn't happen every day. I ignored my instincts for two years, and that left me in a broken, abusive relationship. I trust my instincts now.