It means falling in love slowly and imperfectly and vulnerably. It means getting to know another person but also getting to know a whole new side of yourself because of them. It means wanting to look and seem absolutely perfect in front of them, but eventually realizing you grow closer to them with each new imperfection that they discover about you.
It means some of the moments will be romantic in the traditional sense of the word – candlelit dinners, butterflies every time your phone dings, being unable to think of anyone else but them. And it means some of the moments will be romantic in a way that you didn’t even know was romantic – tenderly wiping their sweaty forehead when they have the flu, them handing you a tissue to wipe the snot off your face as you ugly-cry, saving a crumply old post-it that they used to hastily write you a note and absolutely treasuring it.
It means looking at ordinary things in your life and suddenly seeing them as extraordinary, simply because they contain some trace of the person you’ve fallen for.
Real love means learning how to get through your first argument, learning that it sucks to apologize and it sucks to compromise, but you’re willing to do it for the good of a relationship that feels bigger than your self.
Falling in love the real way means realizing that a lot of stuff in your life still sucks anyway, no matter how in love you are. That love doesn’t solve your problems and love doesn’t make your demons go away. But that it does mean you have someone standing next to you the whole time, holding your hand and reminding you that you’re not alone as you fight all of the bad stuff.
It means looking at your person and imagining them with gray hair or whispy hair or no hair, and wrinkly skin and an unsteady walk and shaky fingers, and knowing that somehow, you’ll still love them. That in between this moment and that one, you’ll have gone through so much together that you can’t imagine them looking any other way. That their wrinkly skin and their tired eyes and their shaky bones just mean that you’ve spent a lifetime loving each other.
Falling in love the real way means being really, really scared. Scared because there’s always a chance that they won’t love you back, or that one day they’ll stop. Scared because there’s no way to one-hundred percent guarantee that it will last. Scared because, no matter how much you love each other and how certain you are of one another, a lifetime commitment of love is always a gamble.
Falling in love means inhaling those fears and letting them wash over you and jumping anyway. Because a life without them is so much scarier than anything else you could possibly ever face.