I believe in love.
I believe that there is a love for everyone out there.
I am, without a doubt, a hopeless romantic. I cheer for love stories in movies and television, and every time displays of love present themselves on my social media feeds or in my day.
I think my husband is the most wonderful, gorgeous, amazing man on the planet. I know he’s my forever human, I know he’s the love of my life.
But phrases like “true love” can be problematic. They can paint this picture that there is a dictionary definition of what a healthy, loving, beautiful relationship means – and the bottom line is that that picture will look different for every person on this planet.
Your love is your love.
It’s between you and that other person. (Or maybe you’re polyamorous, and it’s between you and another person.)
The point is that it’s not for me to say what your “true love” should look like, and it’s not for me to define, either. It’s for you to figure out. It’s for you to discover. It’s for you to unpack, and delight in, and call your own.
You get to decide what your roles look like in your marriage or relationship. You get to paint your own “true love” masterpiece.
Maybe you work, and your partner doesn’t. Maybe your partner works, and you don’t. Maybe you both travel for work, and much of your relationship is long distance. Maybe you live together, but don’t ever want to get married. Maybe one of you wants to stay home with the kids, and the other doesn’t. Maybe you split all the bills 50/50, and maybe you don’t. Maybe you have joint credit cards, or maybe you don’t. Maybe one of you is a neat freak, and the other is a slob, and it’s a constant cycle of who’s picking up after who.
Maybe you yell a little too much.
Maybe they don’t speak when something is bothering them.
Maybe it’s something else entirely.
Maybe your picture of “true love” hasn’t been defined by Hollywood, or novelists, or religious leaders, or politicians, or the internet mobs, or psychologists, or anyone else.
Maybe you’ve painted an entirely new picture, one that’s just for you and your beloved.
And you know what? That new picture is beautiful. It’s special. It’s just for you.
I hope your picture of “true love” is one that’s painted with the strokes of honesty, and loyalty, and love, and laughter.
I hope it uses warm colors, too.
And if the masterpiece that you’ve created looks a little different than the canvas hanging next to it?
I hope you don’t get caught up in that difference for too long. I hope you celebrate love, in all its forms. I hope you smile at that painting, and cheer on whoever it belongs to, and then leave it at that.
There’s nothing wrong with noticing what works for other people. But that doesn’t mean that you have to add more color to your own painting so that it matches the one hanging next to it a little bit better.
Your love is your love.
And as Lin-Mauel Miranda said, “love is love is love.”