The boy that I’ve been dating for the past few months invited me over to his place a couple of weeks ago. And when I walked up the stairs, he had a bouquet of flowers standing inside a vase on the dinner table. There were candles and he made a dessert from scratch that he said took him most of his day.
The one thing I kept saying to him most of the night was, “You’re so nice; this is so nice of you.” And he would just laugh at me as if I never had this happen to me. I won’t lie, there have been times in my life where romantic gestures like that have occurred. Flowers brought to my door or left sitting on my doorstep when I walk outside. A prepared dinner of a French Fry salad one Valentine’s Day because I thought the idea of it would be funny and no restaurant would dare to make that, so the person I was seeing at the time made it instead.
But for most of my life when it comes to dating, my experiences of romantic gestures have only gone so far as a “U up?” text usually at 1 or 2 a.m. Where boys just swipe through you like a quick transaction, only to trade you in for someone better or hotter once you’re completely used up. We live in a generation and time where this is how love is translated for us. Where we submit ourselves to this way of affection because we think this is all that’s out there and good for us.
It seems like the older I get, the more I don’t understand the word “love.” When I was younger, I got fed love in the worst way — through television screens, with Prince Charming saving the damsel in distress. Through the words of a boy named Romeo and girl named Juliet who couldn’t live without each other, so they sacrificed themselves. Through my ears being pressed against my bedroom door as I heard the sounds of my alcoholic father yelling at my mother from the kitchen or living room, who would come into my room red faced with tears in her eyes, pretending like nothing happened.
So I took what I saw and ran with it. And it’s the hardest lesson I’ve learned so far. Because nothing I witnessed, watched, or read was true. Love isn’t supposed to hurt you to the point where you can’t escape it. Love isn’t supposed to make you question whether or not you’re good enough. Love isn’t supposed to leave you crying until you can’t see from how much the tears are rolling down your face and accumulating in your eyes.
So why do we still go for this kind of love when we know it’s no good? Why do we crave the ones who are nothing but bad for us? We crave this sort of intimacy though motionless expression and thinly pressed smiles. When all someone wants is something you shouldn’t have to be so willing to give up so easily.
This type of love isn’t real. It’s not heart-stopping, head-spinning, or fireworks-exploding. It’s fake, from the moment you lock eyes with that person you see across the bar or swipe right on your phone whose tagline was, “Only want you here for a good time not a long time.” We subject ourselves to these type of people for some reason, but it’s one I still can’t figure out for anyone or even myself.
I can admit to faking love. The only time I ever uttered those three words and meant it was to my last ex. I think that was the last time I felt some type of love, but not exactly the real kind. Ever since then, I’ve gone through guy after guy trying to feel something when all I did was compare them. And that’s not fair, and it’s a pretty shitty thing to do. But I still searched for that feeling through a different face, hoping it would come back.
I fake love because I don’t know what real love is. I think I’ve been doing it all my life without even realizing it. And I can sit here and say it’s because my perception of love was wrong or the things I got fed from an early age were all negative, but that would be putting the blame on other things and people instead of owning up to it myself.
I’ll admit that, for the most part, I date terrible guys. The type of guys who ghost you and you still stupidly try getting a hold of them at 1 a.m. when your drunk. The type of guys you invite to hang out, whose idea of hanging out and getting to know you is exploring what’s underneath your clothes between the sheets. The type of guys who hurt you so badly yet you’re still willing to give them another chance to because you miss them.
When will I learn? Better yet, when will we all learn? To not continue to make these same mistakes until it becomes a trail you know all too well to follow until it becomes the norm. When we stop seeing a straight line and end up following a circle for the rest of our lives because we never learned from our own mistakes and now have a permanent pattern stitched into our heads.
We all deserve to feel something that’s real and not temporary. To be able to look at someone and see them as end game and not a quick pit stop to your final destination.
Maybe one day I’ll get there. And who knows, maybe I’m getting closer. I’m not ashamed to say most of the love I’ve felt has been fake. But for the ones who felt something more towards me and I didn’t see it for myself, I’m sorry.
I deserve to feel a love that’s real, and so do you. So keep trying, because it’s going to happen. Allow your heart to go through some wear and tear, because the second it starts to gain its shape back and all the pieces come back together is when you’ve met the person you’ve been waiting for your whole life.