Thought Catalog
March 8, 2017

What Love Actually Is, Because Sometimes It’s Not Magic

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I’m getting married in September.

It’s not something I talk about frequently in my writing. Refraining from talking about it was never a conscious choice, and I’ve never thought too deeply about the reasons why. I think it’s because my relationship is the most important thing in the world to me, so I like keeping it to myself. I like keeping him to myself, I like keeping him away from the internet for the most part. I know he certainly doesn’t mind that decision.

But I do like writing about relationships in general, and love in general. Because it’s such a fascinating, intricate, complex piece of life. Love is constant but it never stays the same. Love is patient, love is kind, blah blah blah. But it is also unpredictable, scary, nerve-wracking, addicting. It can make you feel a high unlike any drug. It can also make you feel a low unlike any drug.

And what fascinates me more than any other part of love is the way it transforms when the initial high, the initial infatuation, the initial I-can’t-believe-you-can-make-me-feel-this-intoxicated phase is over.

I am fascinated by the way love changes when you become comfortable. When things are generally slower and steadier and more relaxed – because that’s what I’ve been living for a couple of years now. And this is what I’ve learned (so far).

Sometimes love sucks. It’s this intimidating uphill battle of understanding how to make sacrifices and how to be selfless without losing your sense of who you are. It’s figuring out that being your own person and being one half of a whole don’t have to be mutually exclusive things. You can be your own person and have your own life, but you also have to understand that you’re part of a team now, a partnership, and that every decision you make is going to affect them too.

It’s a wonderful thing to think about sometimes – that you’re not alone, that you have someone on your side, that you have someone fighting for you. But it’s also an insane thing to think about – you have someone counting on you now, you have someone whose happiness should matter as much to you (or more to you) than your own. You can’t just pick up and move across the country when you feel like it. You can’t just spend a large amount of money on something when you feel like it. You can’t just make a huge life decision based solely on you and what you want. You have a partner now – you have someone who will both totally support you and totally depend on you.

Love is learning that sometimes you get to be the selfish person and sometimes you don’t. It’s learning how to not be afraid of a fight, how to look your relationship in the eye and understand that it will never be perfect.

Love is understanding that although ‘being humble’ and ‘admitting that you’re wrong’ sound like romantic and admirable concepts, they can be a pain in the ass in real life.

When my fiancé and I have made it to the end of arguments in the past, and I’ve realized that the problem stemmed from a selfish action on my part, he always laughs at the way my face looks and how my voice sounds when I apologize. I say the right words, I mean them, I feel the sentiment and I embrace the mistake, but it all tastes horrible coming out of my mouth. And I usually over-exaggerate my distaste and make dramatic hand motions to imply that I’m trying to shake the apology out of myself. And then he laughs and I laugh and I feel better once it’s over. But the actual apology part, the admitting-you’re-wrong part, it’s not romantic or sweet. It’s annoying and not fun.

Love is all of this stuff and it will only continue to be more of this stuff. More of these hard decisions, these selfless actions, these moments of humility and vulnerability.

I’m writing about all of this now and I’m just at the beginning – I’m not even married yet. My parents have been married for almost thirty years now, and my mom always tells me, in an encouraging but honest voice, that love is really, really hard. These concepts of selflessness and sacrifice sound romantic now, but they’re really hard sometimes. They really suck sometimes.

What makes me want to do it though, is the way that the magic has changed. In the beginning of my relationship, the magic was from the infatuation, the high, the desperation to be with each other always. That was lovely, but not sustainable.

The magic now is the amount of joy I feel from doing something that I know will make him happy, or something that will make his life easier, even though it doesn’t benefit me. The magic now is that I’ve seen a part of myself coming out – a part of me that I really like – that never emerged until he was in my life. The magic now is conversations I have with him that make me feel more understood than I ever have in my life. The magic now is seeing that he can still surprise me, that there are still things I learn about him that I never knew. It’s a different kind of magic, but it’s the kind that I want over a lifetime. TC mark

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