Love Isn’t Always Fireworks And Butterflies, But That Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Real

couple standing at sunset
Alex Iby

I used to think that love would feel like a Pablo Neruda poem–a beautiful ache that was all-consuming, something you couldn’t live a day without. It would be an addiction, a breath that was no longer yours, something that feels like it’s going to burst inside of you–a warmth, a fever, a fragrant dream, a perfect song, an impressive alignment, a reason to live, a will to be better, a technicolor silence, a rebirth, a redemption, a yearning that cripples your soul.

All the writers knew it, too–not just Neruda who wrote in his famous poem called “Your Laughter,” “deny me bread, air, light, spring, but never your laughter for I would die.”

For I would die.

Imagine a love so strong like that–a love that wholly interrupts every little part of you and changes you, makes you lose yourself in that world of passion, making you feel like your entire existence is made up of magic and light.

I used to blame the movies and all the songs (and of course all the poems) for setting the expectation of love so high. This is what love should feel like, look like, be. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” Jenny says in Love Story. And again, it all starts over.

I thought about love, about finding that kind of love. My world would tilt because of a love so grand. All my bullshit would disappear. I’d know exactly how to be, what to say, what to do. I would not overthink. I would just give in and indulge in this spectacular person I had found, because our love would be perfect and dazzling and I would know, without question, that it was this person above any other person who understood me, who excited me, who shook my spirit, who my body craved more than anyone. It would happen. It had to happen. I would find those fireworks and butterflies. It was out there. For sure it was. (Right?)

But, unfortunately, life carries on. You become older, wiser, perhaps a bit more jaded. These expectations weaken and you become doubtful. Then you meet someone great and you think that maybe you’re in love or you could one day love him, but none of these magical moments happen and you can’t help but to wonder, Why? Why did everything feel, in a way, so neutral?

I started to psych myself out. I felt like I was dead inside, that maybe he wasn’t right for me because I was feeling so calm instead of feeling so ecstatic, because I was feeling so realistic about it, so sensible and cool, instead of being consumed with brilliant fireworks and butterflies that I could get off of.

But that’s when I realized that maybe that kind of romance just wasn’t me. I am a sensible person who believes in love. I do. But love to me, I’ve realized and am slowly realizing, isn’t about the fireworks and butterflies.

Love is a quiet feeling of the truest contentment. Love is still. Love is simple. Love doesn’t make me squeal or burst. Love doesn’t define me. Love, in a way, is neutrality.

Because maybe love should be about balance–not necessarily about this huge springing jump that takes your breath away. Maybe love is just a breath, a sense of calm, a steady feeling that you can’t quite put your finger on. Maybe true love is way more mature than you ever imagined. Maybe it is rational, even keeled. Maybe it isn’t anything more than what this is, right here in this little moment. And maybe you are super subtle in the way that you love, but that doesn’t mean that your love is less or weak.

Maybe you’ve just changed over the years, grown up a little bit, become more aware of the world around you. Maybe you’ve just learned to love without expectations, without thinking or comparing your “inadequacies” to everyone else’s love that you see and read about. Maybe you’ve just come to discover that everyone’s love is different. This is how you love. And as cool and relaxed as it is, it still means something–whether you know how to explain it or you don’t. TC mark

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