1. Love is transparent.
In real love, you see through people. You see their hearts, their goals, their wishes, their desires. You learn how they truly feel in a given situation; you know when they’re telling the truth or trying to playing their emotions off. With my best friend, I learned about love through her honesty. She taught me that it’s far better to express you pain, your confusion, your insecurity, your indecision than to bottle it up inside. She helped me realize that being transparent about your emotions and being fearless about letting people in is the only way to love. And as she showed me her heart—both the beautiful and the broken pieces—I understood that you can only get close to someone when you reveal who you really are.
2. Love withstands the test of time and distance.
True friendship knows no bounds, no restrictions, no barriers of location or miles or space between. It could be weeks without a phone call or months without an in-person hug, but the relationship would stay the same. There is no fading because of a lack of calls or texts, no question of loyalty based upon the travel time between us. This is how a relationship should be. No hesitation, no fear, no wondering whether or not the other person is committed. Real love does not fall victim to distance.
3. Love is tough, in more ways than one.
The act of loving another person through their faults and mistakes and inconsistencies is hard. And sometimes real love is tough—telling it like it is or being brutally honest about emotions and decisions. Real love isn’t sugar-coated and sunshiney all the time. Real love is hard, is gritty, is face-to-face fights and disagreements that end with red faces and slammed doors. But if my best friend taught me one thing it’s this: there is no love without pain. And even though love can hurt sometimes, when you love someone you fight with and for them. Without disagreements, opinions, and difficult times, there is no real relationship.
4. Love is both a healer and a teacher.
There is nothing more heart-mending than a hug from someone who deeply cares for you. There are no better lessons than the ones you learn from someone who has stood by your side through both the highest and lowest points of your life. The relationship I have with my best friend has lifted me from the darkest places and taught me to press on. It was because of her that I learned love should not break me down, but build me up; love is meant to grow me, inspire me, and make me a better person. It was because of her that I realized I must fall for someone who isn’t stagnant, but is willing and able to take on this world with me, hand in hand, through every roadblock and obstacle.
5. Love waits.
Love waits for you to be ready to get up in the morning when you feel broken and lost. Love waits for you to be comfortable in your own skin. Love waits for you before heading out for the night, or stays close nearby when you withdraw or pull away. My best friend showed me that love is not about forcing someone to do what you want them to do or trying to make them into the person you need them to be.
Real love is about accepting where someone is—their mess, their uniqueness, their flaws, their humanness—and loving them as is. Real love is about patience, letting people take all the time they need to heal and be vulnerable and let others in. Real love waits for you to be ready, in any manner and situation there is.
6. Love is secure and selfless.
My best friend taught me that real love means abandoning what you’re working on to answer the phone. It means putting someone first, even before yourself, when they need you. It’s being a support system, a shoulder, a confidant, a consistent source of care in someone else’s life, regardless of what’s going on in yours.
My best friend taught me that real love is letting someone cry, but also knowing when to tell them to wipe their tears and get back up. It’s being confident enough in your own skin and in the relationship to give someone their space or to let their decisions guide yours sometimes. It’s compromise. It’s give and take. It’s forgiving. It’s feeling safe. It’s stability. It’s pure. It’s imperfect. It’s real.
7. Love is fun.
Fighting with your best friend sucks sometimes—arguing about boys, dealing with drama, having to tell them off because they’re being b*tchy, not seeing eye-to-eye—there are a million and one things that won’t be perfect in a friendship. But at the end of the day, you still love the hell out of each other. At the end of the day, love is way more fun than difficult. And that’s how it should be. Sure, you’ll bicker with your significant other; sure you’ll have disagreements and fights and moments where you question what you’re doing with one another. But at the end of the day, your relationship brings a smile to your face and warmth to your heart. And that’s how it should be. Fun.
8. Love is consistent.
Love doesn’t just leave without reason or warning. It isn’t an emotion you feel one day then no longer have the next. It isn’t fleeting or impermanent. It grows over time and with trust. It builds with your relationship, becoming stronger with every conflict and mess. It stays. Not only when things are good, but when they’re tough as hell, too.
My best friend was there through it all. She was the one I could depend on when my world was spinning. She was the voice that kept me grounded, the arms that always felt like home.
And she taught me that real love must be like a friendship: something that you can rely on, something that’s consistent, something that’s not necessarily easy, but when push comes to shove, will be there, beyond a doubt. That’s the kind of love you deserve.