It’s crazy how subtle day-to-day realizations can collect to produce major shifts in your perspective. It’s been around a year since I wrote this post; at the time, it was an honest, vulnerable representation of what I hoped the “perfect” person and “ideal” relationship would feel like. Re-reading it now, I can’t help but be critical and almost disgusted with my own words. So flawed. So naive and dangerously unrealistic. Smh. Like I said, a lot can change with quiet mini-epiphanies throughout a year. Here are some major ideas I want to point out / refresh with the things I’ve learned.
1. “I Love Love” vs. “I Love YOU.”
In the piece, I talk mostly about what this person does TO me, FOR me, but not about ..the person themselves. It’s hard to admit, but I’m only just realizing how insulting that is: To build the idea of a relationship together, completely TOP-DOWN based on the things I want out of it, and not on the person. I wasn’t writing about someone I love, I was writing about someone who could help me love myself.
Of course there are qualities we look for in people. But focusing primarily on our desires does not make a future spouse, or any legitimate relationship.. it makes a damn rebound.
I define a ‘rebound,’ (not by the time between them and your last relationship, but) as an interest having little to do with the person.
It has to do with your interest in the things they can offer you.
Someone who can supply the tools to fill a void or undo some damage that no one but yourself should be responsible for.
I would hate for someone to love me only for what I can give them, and not for who I am.
Yet here I was, desperate for someone to flatter me, comfort me, using them as a crutch while calling them my lover.
How sad it is to reduce someone to a shell- “As long as you can make me feel __, it doesn’t matter who you are! Just love me!”
It didn’t even occur to me that I was placing the idea of a relationship over the value of a person. I never even thought about genuinely appreciating someone. Now, before I can say that I love someone, I have to first be confident in saying,
“I love you for you, not for me.”
2. Love > Want.
Once I understood that fault in my mindset, I began to see that so many of my relationships were based on “want,” not “love.”
While love does carry with it a sense of desire,
Pure “want” is not love. It’s self-love.
"Want" comes with jealousy, entitlement, bitterness, disappointment.
"Want" hurts if you don’t "get."
”Love" is about appreciation, support, acceptance, gratitude.
"Love" doesn’t get affected by "not getting.” Love is beautiful. Love is warm. Love is natural and easy.
I have to remind myself that loving someone should not necessitate a feeling of possession. In fact, my “want” for someone, and the need to control and dictate how much of them I “have” only pollutes the pure and wonderful love I could have for them.
People do not belong to each other.
Do what you feel. I can only act on my own emotions. I express love as I feel it, and welcome its reciprocation. I refuse to let my pride and expectations (“want”-words) suppress what I naturally feel for anyone.
3. Rejecting the Concept of “Deserving”
Do people deserve to get hurt? Did victims of rape and murder deserve that? Do we lose loved ones in natural disasters and freak accidents because we.. deserve it?
The more I’m exposed to the random atrocities that plague this world, the more I want to reject the idea that anyone deserves anything.
If the world functioned in a way where people got exactly what they deserved, we’d have no need for prisons or courts or hospitals or heartache. Some things just happen.
Some people just love. And some people don’t. Sometimes we break our own hearts for someone else, and sometimes it’s not enough.
By attempting to take control of people’s feelings or the situations surrounding it, we’re assuming that, “because I’ve been through ___, or because feel this for you, because I’m willing to do ___, consequently, ___ needs to happen.”
All the faults right here. Not only is it horrendously unsound to view human relationships as an exchange, even if that were to work out, what good is a love you have to ask for? A love that you feel entitled to, not a love that you’re not thankful and happy to receive?
The more contrived it is, the more you’re contradicting yourself: If you feel that you truly “deserve” something, should it not come organically? Aka, stop writing about things you think you deserve, i.e. a future husband, JESSIE. You don’t get a prize for enduring pain. All’s (un)fair in love and war.
4. The Deepest Need of the Human Heart is to Feel Connected.
So we’ve established that, for any healthy, real relationship to develop, you must first 1. love the person. Not the idea of them. 2. Love, not want them. And 3. not feel like you should have them. Okay, got it.
Now, how do I love someone?
There is no conventional way to fall in love. There is no formula. Every love story is unique and magical. But in lasting relationships, I found a definite a pre-requisite.
The only way to love someone is to KNOW them first.
Without knowing them, you can so easily commit fallacy #1- loving the idea of someone, not them. Who are they, even?
When I think of individual people I know who are awesome at life, who just seem to be confident and composed no matter what, I noticed that they have one thing in common:
They are not necessarily the most talented, positive people. What makes them unbreakable is that they are self-aware. The more centered you are, the more you know yourself, the more you are in touch with and continually develop your ideals and beliefs and principles, the less you are negatively affected by external influences.
That’s your center. Your core. What makes you, uniquely, divinely, impeccably “You.”
Analogously, in a relationship involving two people, the couples that are resilient are the ones that truly understand each other. Situations are arbitrary. Heck, feelings are pretty arbitrary. But if your love is based on genuine understanding, of each other and of the relationship, there is little else that could shake that.
Human beings, as social creatures, are naturally hungry to feel connected. That “click” we have with our closest friends- the feeling of “You get me!”- gives me such a rush.
Alas, romantically, the ones you fall for are not always going to be the ones who speak the same love language, same dialect and accent. Sometimes they do have a more intrinsic understanding of what you mean and what you want. Sometimes they’re on a completely different page. But it’s about getting to know their language. If you’re willing to learn, over time, there will be less and less room for mistranslation of good intentions.
If I could narrow down all of the lessons I’ve learned in the recent past,
I would say that most of the harsh, painful, heart-shattering feelings I’ve experienced had nothing to do with love, or the lack of it.
It had to do with my understanding of a person, or the lack of it.
I admit I loved “love” too much. Too often, I wasn’t willing to do the work to know someone organically; got overexcited and jumped the gun. I went for the fluttery feeling, the cute things, the shallow things. I built the relationship top-down, clumsily, prematurely, without taking the time to get to know them.
Goal: Be able to say, “I know you. And I love you, for you, all of you.”
5. Love is (just) a Feeling. A Relationship is An Action, A Choice, A Continued Commitment
I’d always thought that if I could feel so much “love” for someone, a relationship will be second nature. Yet sometimes, love isn’t enough. Sometimes, more often than we’d like, love fails.
Loving someone, with a love that stays, is a renewable choice.
Maybe I didn’t love my exes enough to choose them. But there is a higher likelihood that, it’s not the lack of the love, but that I placed too much importance on the feeling, not the practice of it. So when I started to doubt my feelings, the relationship was placed in jeopardy as well.
“How long will it take us to learn that feelings can’t be trusted? They may help point us in the right direction, but they should NEVER be the sole foundation on which an entire relationship is based. Because at the end of the day, feelings come- and then feelings go. Those who build their relationships on the foundation of “feeling” will find that when the rain comes- their love quickly crumbles.”
Last-Year-Me would’ve found this article insultingly unromantic and have dismissed it right away. But I’m learning. And some lessons require you to accept that maybe you were wrong. Perhaps my errors in judgement and action, not my feelings, were the culprits behind much of my heartbreak and loss.
But I know, now, that exercising your mind is NOT disrespecting your heart. If anything, it’s putting into practice what YOU KNOW your heart ultimately feels, even though it may not feel it all the time.
I now believe in my capacity to feel, as well as my ability to choose accordingly, not just blindly acting on impulse and emotion on a whim. I’ve hurt so many people, including myself, that way.
Love is great. But it’s also fickle as shit. Your soul will decide on a mate, then a few months later change its mind.
A lasting relationship is a day to day commitment, advancing love from a feeling to an action. And that’s not unromantic at all. In fact, what could be more romantic than choosing to love someone despite the flaws or doubts? Forget the stars and moons aligning to destine someone for you. The real magical part of love is choosing to stay in it.
6. Stop Waiting For/Writing To.. Anyone
The part I am most critical about in the piece,
is that, (no matter how I worded it,)
I was waiting for someone.
And that’s always been my biggest weakness- that instead of being fully comfortable with myself, I always relied on another person to complete me. My life has always carried traces of “what ifs” for another, even at a time when I confidently claimed that “I’m fine doing me.” Seriously? Look at the title of the damn post!
Yes. I’ll always be soft. I’ll always be a romantic. I’ll always crave to love and be loved. But there is a difference between wanting something, and needing it. I made love a necessity in my life, rather than an added luxury. Which bred so many of my fallacies within relationships.
I was giving parts of my heart away to strangers, hoping (expecting) to receive more in return, without the commitment to the relationship or even a legitimate understanding of them. I’m so sorry. To you and to myself. I was also robbed of the chance to be in love, by my own failings.
Goal: Give my heart away and not feel like I have to ask for it back.
P.S.-I want to point out the end of the piece, that dramatic last line.. “I’m dying to meet you.” Haha. The only thing I that makes me laugh more than that is the insinuation (paragraph 3) that I remained abstinent waiting for my future husband. Lol please.