There Is No One Right Way To Be In Love

 istockphoto.com / AleksandarNakic
istockphoto.com / AleksandarNakic

Love comes in many different forms, and at varying levels. It’s vagueness allows it to encompass everything from the new clothes you bought, to your dog, to that pizza spot around the corner, to the person you spend the rest of your life with.

Growing up, I had the misconception that telling someone I loved them for the first time was akin to losing my virginity because of the pedestal it had been put on by movies and the people around me (granted, who were not much older than me, if at all).

Uttering those three little words for the first time to someone — and any first time to someone new — is paramount because it is the point where you have not only come to realize, but are now acknowledging what this person means to you.

We’re brainwashed to believe that love has to be this overwhelming, insurmountable feeling towards another. While that may be your relationship, another doesn’t have to live up to that billing in order to love someone else.

Love is simple, complicated, agonizing, and exhilarating all at the same time, and it is the greatest experience we as humans will ever have if we’re lucky enough to find it.

It’s not always what you see in the movies, with the guy doing romantic gestures every single day he sees his woman, or the woman glowing every single time she looks her man. Love is not like that in real life. Love is much more normal in everyday life.

Love is a feeling, and it has no definition. There’s no way to fully characterize what love is because love is different for everyone.

Some love hard, deep, and passionately, while others love in moderation. Some want to find their mirror image, while others want to find the yin to their yang.

Some say, “I love you,” when the feeling is a one-way street. Many are fortunate enough to say it to someone who was waiting for the right time and just got beaten to the punch. Even if love is reciprocated on both ends, the reality is that love is not enough. No relationship can survive on love alone.

There are so many outside factors that can strain or destroy a relationship that when you take the time to view everything from the outside, it’s breathtaking.

When two people truly make it work — “In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, until death do you part” — it’s nothing short of fascinating. Everything works in that relationship, and whatever doesn’t come naturally isn’t much of a test. When wrenches are thrown into the works, they overcome obstacles as a team.

There is no, “The timing is just not right,” no, “I’m not ready,” no, “You’re great, but…” There are two people who — even if they thought or had those aforementioned feelings — pushed them aside to see what could come of this relationship.

The girl who had her heart shattered by the one before trusts the guy with potential not to do the same; the guy who met this incredible girl on vacation doesn’t let the distance stop him from taking a gamble that the feeling was more than just a fling.

The timing is there. The trust is there. The attraction is there. The communication is there. The spark — that “it”-factor is there. The stars align for great things to happen, and when it’s right, those two people do not let the moment pass.

I’ve been in love with someone I did not want to spend the rest of my life with. I thought I was in love with someone I cared deeply about, but later realized it was nothing more than that. And I’ve had the overwhelming, insurmountable love described earlier, for someone who saw me as nothing more than an acquaintance.

Sometimes it was on my end. Sometimes it was on her end. Whatever the case may be, it didn’t work out. Something was always in the way that one of us didn’t want to find a way around. The sad reality is that we’ll experience those relationships more than the one that lasts — if we’re lucky enough to find it.

Part of the reason I think most relationships (even some of my own) fail is because we take our partners for granted. We overlook or completely ignore the fact that out of more than seven billion people in the world, two people managed to find each other and take a chance on one another.

There are people who belittle their partner’s listening ear, but will fly off the handle at their social media activity. There are people who feel that if the relationship is not constantly experiencing new things, it will become stale and rot. Simplicity is a good thing. Adventure is a good thing. But like anything in life, it’s about balance.

I look at my mother’s remarriage in greater detail as time passes, and I think it’s a perfect example for what I’m trying to convey here.

As a teenager, I thought I would be destined to end up alone if I wasn’t married by 26, a homeowner by 27, and a father by 28. Now single and childless at 27, I’ve come to accept that there is no timeline for when things are supposed to happen.

Love has no deadline and it has no expiration date. You don’t have to achieve milestones by a certain age and not reaching them when you hoped doesn’t mean you’ll never experience them.

Some people meet the love of their life at 16 and get married at 22. Some people meet the love of their life at 35. Some, like my mother and stepfather, have a two-decade-long hiatus before they pursued a relationship with one another.

I used to think reaching all of those life milestones while (relatively) young was imperative because “that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” After all, my mother was married with two kids at my age. But then I think, “Well, she got divorced.”

I’m sure the divorce was hard, but I also know for a fact she’s happier than she’s ever been now. All of the hurt and speed bumps along the way eventually led her to my stepfather, and I try to keep that in mind.

I don’t believe in, “Everything happens for a reason,” but I do believe that sometimes we will experience our darkest days before we’re able to bask in the sunshine. I don’t want to be collecting social security when my child graduates high school, but if meeting my wife later in life meant I would spend the rest of it happily by her side, I’ll gladly accept that deal.

If you’re fortunate enough to be in love with someone who loves you back, never let it go. You’re already luckier than most everyone else in the world, and losing it could mean you’ll never get it back.TC mark

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