When you first murmured “I love you” quietly to me, a sudden panic – one with bony, vine-like hands – curled around my heart and gripped my chest. Not because I didn’t feel anything for you, but because I felt the weight of that statement and the responsibility that came with that exclamation. It was recognition of your vulnerability and my power to potentially hurt you. It was fear because deep down, I recognized that we were two very different individuals who love and express love in very different ways.
I grew up with Disney princesses. My worldview of love is one that celebrates synchronicity. Chemistry, synchronicity, romance, and completeness were terms that are interchangeable and intertwined. I desired a partner who would celebrate the same things as I did, who prioritized the same experiences, and who knew instinctively what my expectations were and how to meet them.
You grew up watching your parents sacrifice for the family and were taught that consideration of others is how love is expressed. Celebration of love, to you, came at great sacrifice of oneself for the betterment of another. In your worldview, romance is highly overrated and true love came with being able to provide well for your partner and your future family.
Falling in love with you, and choosing to love you, is a most frustrating experience. But it also taught me the biggest and most important lesson.
There is something to be learned about deciding to love another person, without expectations. You have to accept that they won’t love you the way that you want them to, the way that you love them. And that’s okay. Contrary to what the world will tell you – that you deserve the love that you think you should have and that love should be equal on both sides to work – accepting that a person loves you differently is not the same as a person loving you less.
I am a highly passionate person and I feel the immense need to qualify and quantify everything and anything, as my way of grappling with it to make meaning of it. You taught me that there is no way to measure love, especially when its expression is completely alien to my method of expressing (and qualifying) it.
As the world sings tunes of love and synchronicity, of how being in love makes you complete, and how in being a couple is a meshing of two persons into a single unit, we forget that loving someone and falling in love is a highly personal experience. And although we are two individuals who have come together to form a unit, we remain as two separate entities who experience the same phenomenon of falling in love and loving, differently.
In learning how to be with each other, we’ve both learned another way in which love is felt and experienced. We are forced to broaden our minds to possibilities outside of our preconceived perceptions and to trust greatly, that the other has our best interests at heart, even when we do not understand the actions and choices they made.
Our lack of comprehension of the other has served as a catalyst for communicating better: to quickly pick up skills to talk to the other and clarify potential relationship minefields. This is something that set this relationship apart from all of my past relationships. And as I have come to quickly realize, this is also the foundation of developing a healthy and sustainable relationship.
Writing me love letters or sending me flowers will never be your forte. In fact, we will be thankful if your tactless words during my PMS do not led into a senseless row. But I am beginning to appreciate the effort taken to put my needs first and spoil me when it is possible. You will never be a man who will surprise me with grand gestures or suddenly find the perfect words that speak right to my heart. Instead, you will be the man who will try your hardest to quit smoking because I don’t like the smell, who will insist on giving me your last bit of water so that I’ll stay hydrated on our cycles while you endure the thirst, and whose answer to my question of favorite activity to engage in is, “watching TV with you”.
Thank you for not loving me the way that I love you.
Thank you for loving me the way that you do.