There is no foolproof way to handle love. There’s no comprehensive how-to guide, no universal relationship manual despite the overabundance of relationship manuals. All the mantras and philosophies are basically just suggestions, things that have statistically, occasionally, worked for other people. People can impart good insight but no one can singlehandedly puzzle out you and your partner’s unique brand of insanity. It’s a long road you essentially travel alone so you might as well hold hands.
Young love has nothing to do with age, though it is typically attributed to teenagers because adults are presumed to know better. But they don’t. We don’t. Young love is consumption, the one thing at the forefront of your mind, the singular essence that electrifies your blood flow and the cloud of flies that obscures the sun. This is a thing that happens and even though we’re less susceptible, we’re not immune.
Young love eventually dies because, like a prairie fire, it devours everything in its path until there’s nothing left. And then there’s no more of this “I can’t get enough of you” feeling, because as it turns out, you can. You get enough of everyone and everything after your heart’s been incinerated because it makes you realize you alone are exactly enough. This is liberating but it also kind of sucks.
No one tells you that you’ll get tired of love. No one tells you that no matter how happy you are in your relationship, occasionally you’ll wish you had only yourself to take care of again.
Or that every now and then you’ll find yourself incredibly attracted to someone else, the way their hair falls or the way they form their sentences, and no matter how much you love your partner you’ll suddenly want them so bad you start to feel nauseous. Of course you won’t do anything about it but you’ll know you had the thought and you’ll hate yourself for it just the tiniest bit.
Sometimes you’ll fall in love with the wrong people on purpose, because the idea of there being a “right” type of person can feel incredibly limiting and make you depressed. You’ll fall in love with someone’s something, one strange thing, the violent jut of their clavicle or the fact that they make light installations, and that one thing will be your center until you sober up and find someone suitable.
“Someone suitable” is also a slippery mystery. Technically this is someone who fundamentally understands the person you are and makes sense within the framework of your life, someone supportive and warm who keeps you engaged and doesn’t cause you too much anxiety, among other things, but those are some incredibly difficult criteria for one person to fulfill if you really think about it.
And you’ll never be ready. Everyone makes such a big deal about the “right time,” about being “ready for a relationship,” but we all intrinsically know this is bullshit. We’re all busy but we don’t go quit our jobs the minute we decide to start a workout regimen. The same goes for relationships: if you meet the right person, you rearrange your mental schedule and make room for them, because that’s just what you do. It happens. If you have to constantly overthink and agonize, they’re probably not the right person.
And heartbreak is one of the best things that can happen to you. That “bright side” those obnoxious optimists keep talking about, that’s the perspective you get from heartbreak. Be grateful for it, perspective is everything.