There are some people who grow up in homes devoid of love. This is one of the worst ways of growing up because you have no idea what love is supposed to really look like. Since they have no ideal relationship to look up to, they learn their definition of love from movies, TV shows, and magazine articles.
For a very long time in my life, I thought love was all about how we looked. If someone was beautiful, they’d won the lottery of life. I learned this lesson after reading countless articles that told me being beautiful should be the most important goal in my life. There were articles about how to lose weight, wear perfect makeup, and the trendiest clothes but never any articles about how I should become a better person.
These were just many of the harmful lessons I learned about love. But the worst of them all was this:
Love is supposed to be eternal.
I thought it is supposed to be an all-consuming entity and it has to last forever. If your partner dies, you have to spend the rest of your life pining after them. If your partner leaves you, well, then your relationship was never really real. If it was true love, they wouldn’t have left you in the first place.
But I don’t think it has to be eternal at all. If you fell in love while you were thirteen but you’re married to someone else in your thirties, does that mean your childhood love wasn’t love at all? I don’t think so.
We are supposed to love more than one person in our lives
The theory that love has to be eternal assumes the fact that we only fall in love once in our lives. But we fall in and out of love many, many times. Sure, some people stay in love with one person throughout their lives but that’s not the case for everyone.
Just because you don’t end up marrying your high school sweetheart doesn’t mean your relationship wasn’t special. It still is and it might hold a special place in your heart for the rest of your life.
Love doesn’t follow any rules
This is one of the things I have understood about love: it doesn’t follow any rules. We often think there are guidelines to finding a perfect relationship. But the truth is there aren’t any.
You can go on one date and think about it for years to come. You can spend ten years with a person, break up with them and not miss them at all. Our hearts don’t follow the rules that our societies have set.
Love can be fake sometimes
A lot of people are in relationships these days because being single is looked down upon, especially if you’re a woman. If you’re single, there must be something wrong with you. If you’re not dating someone, you must be lonely and sad. (Also read: 5 Signs You Are In A Lukewarm Relationship (And How to Get Out of It)
Many influencers on Instagram even get an Insta-boyfriend. It’s someone who takes all your pictures for you on social media.
This is one of the reasons why dating apps are thriving so much. You’re always supposed to be dating someone even if you don’t like them very much, even if you’re not ready to date at all. These kinds of relationships are definitely not going to be eternal.
Love is supposed to surprise you
When I was watching an unhealthy dose of Hollywood movies, this is what I thought my love life would be like:
I’d meet my boyfriend in my early 20s, preferably in college, and date him for a few years. Once we’d both graduate and have jobs that pay us well, we’d get married and have children and live happily ever after. For some reason, I thought whichever guy I dated would also have these same expectations as me.
How wrong I was.
Not everyone dates because they want to marry whoever they are dating. Some people just date casually. They date simply because they don’t have anything else to do, sometimes they date simply because they can’t bear the weight of their own loneliness. There’s nothing wrong with casual dating and even a casual dating partner can hold a special place in your memories.
So, what is love really?
I read this book the other day and came across this quote:
“She rested her head against his and felt, for the first time, what she would often feel with him: a self-affection. He made her like herself.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
I think this is what love really is. When you come home to yourself, when you start to be happy by yourself even without their presence around you, I think that’s what love is for me. It doesn’t have to be eternal but if it makes me happy and truly in love with myself for even a few moments, I think it’s worth it.
What about you?
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