Too many people don’t understand what it really means to love somebody, and have them love you back. Movies and TV shows portray love as some insurmountable force that will succeed against all odds if you just give it a chance. The tale of star crossed lovers who are complete opposites meeting and staying together despite everything working against them is an all too familiar one. On the other side, there are all these “experts” who think they understand the exact steps you need to take to find a lasting relationship. The tragedy is that a lasting relationship isn’t always a loving one. I’ve seen very few people who I feel truly have this whole love thing figured out. After all those encounters, and on the cusp of my own marriage, I think I finally understand some things about it, and I want to share those few things with you.
I’ve been trying to write this post for a while now, but I always struggle to find the words to complete it. Love isn’t an easy thing to explain, but this is my shot, and I hope it helps you maybe figure some things out for yourself.
Love comes from inside yourself first. It is in fact true that you cannot love someone else unless you love yourself first. It’s even more true that you cannot accept someone else’s love unless you love yourself first. True love requires complete vulnerability, and I do mean complete. There can be no secrets, none at all. Your deepest darkest skeletons must be brought out into the light. Only then can you give yourself completely to someone else.
Finding love is hard. Being in love is easy. You will get hurt, many times over. Finding a mutually loving relationship is incredibly difficult, and it requires walking on coals. You must make yourself completely vulnerable over and over again, and be rejected over and over again. It’s difficult not to become damaged and try not to make the same “mistakes” again. Being vulnerable, though, is not a mistake. Imagine if everyone was more vulnerable and open; the world would be a much more loving place if people trusted each other. Once you find it, though, being in love is easy. Whoever tells you love is hard work is wrong. You shouldn’t have to work at a loving relationship, it should just happen. Of course you’ll have your fights, but those fights will not be about fundamental incompatibilities. Being in love is easy.
Love isn’t free. Building a life with someone else, which you will probably do if you fall in love, is costly. It is an investment in your happiness, and that investment costs time and money. Vulnerability includes financial vulnerability. If you’re not ready for that, it will be even more difficult for you to find true love. Get your shit together first, and then try to find that special someone.
Love is always forever. That doesn’t mean it always works out or overcomes all odds. Once you love someone, you can’t actually un-love them; it’s just not possible. You have completely seen someone and accepted them as they are; tell me how you can go back from that? Keep in mind, though, that love and hate aren’t mutually exclusive. You can hate somebody for something they did. Or, maybe your relationship didn’t work out for any number of other reasons. That doesn’t mean the love wasn’t real, and that doesn’t mean the love won’t always be real. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out, and you need to be OK with that.
Love does not involve sacrifice. Love does not involve you giving anything up. You should not have to change yourself, sacrifice your desires, or surrender what makes up you and your life. If you do find yourself having to do anything of that, then I’m sorry, but it isn’t love, and you need to admit it to yourself.