I’ve convinced myself that I’ve been in love, because I felt like it was an institution of growing up. I felt that if you’re 22 years-old, and you’ve yet to be in love, then maybe you’re not capable of such feelings. Maybe you’re never going to be in love.
I have experienced the overwhelming sensation of infatuation — which occurred when I was made physically aware of my emotions. Some believe that love is the physical manifestation of your emotional states; that your adoration for another person manifests itself with sweaty palms, the feeling of butterflies in your stomach and reddened cheeks. These feelings, for me however, have never been partnered with an unwavering sense of acceptance from another person — or the ability to completely strip yourself of the armor you wear to protect your most vulnerable self. I have found that love consists of allowing another person to see you in your entirety. To understand and accept another person for all that they are, but at the same time, to inspire one another to be better, stronger people.
I realized the difference between love and infatuation one day when I cancelled a date due to an unsightly zit that decided to move onto my face. I remember making an excuse, explaining that my parents wanted me to stay in. Later that day, I was accosted by an older couple, looking for a dentist. The older gentleman stopped me to explain that his wife’s tooth fell out and she was in pain. They have been driving all over the county looking for a dentist who was open on the weekends. I gave the directions to the nearest dentist, looked over at the woman and smiled, telling her I hope she felt better. She returned the gesture, missing front-tooth and all. I realized that I have never known a relationship so comfortable that I would want to be around my significant other with a missing tooth. I believe that we all have those days. Maybe our tooth doesn’t fall out, but we will get zits — we will have days when we won’t be able to get out of bed as we are overwhelmed with lethargy. We will have days where no matter how strong and thick our armor is, we just won’t be able to hide our weaknesses. We should not have to hide from love on those days.
I believe the difference between love and infatuation is that love is complete acceptance. Love means understanding that you can confide in another person and still see them the next day. Love means being able to tell another person things that you struggle to tell yourself; because you don’t want to believe they’re true. It is so much easier approaching the skeletons in your closet with another person. Especially if you know that person will be there for the entire journey, and won’t just open the door take a peak and run away. A healthy relationship fosters courage and reassurance. It is difficult to drive all over the county looking for a dentist on a Saturday, but when you have a copilot it is all the more easier. The secret is finding someone, who you and accept and who accepts you that you’re willing to make that drive with.
I’m afraid that our generation sometimes mistakes stripping our clothes with stripping our armor. Intimacy, while a component of true love, is not the entire meaning. Love means not having to hide yourself or change yourself for another person, yet still mustering the motivation to want to better yourself because they inspire you. Intimacy is easy. It takes a few cocktails and a condominium, but it happens and it’s over. You don’t leave having a deeper, fuller meaning of why that person gets out of bed every morning and why they tear up in certain scenes of certain movies. Love is not infatuation, love is not intimacy. Love is a beautiful connection between two people which cannot be easily wavered if someone gets jealous or if another person has a tough day. Love is love and is equal for everyone who is lucky enough to experience it.