I experienced love (or so I thought) when I was 16 years old. I had my first boyfriend and realized that I never had a feeling like this before. A feeling of being totally happy and content with the other person. The word for this is apparently love, I thought, so I said it out loud. My boyfriend at that time paused however and let my words hang in the air for a few seconds before he responded, I think I love you, too. He explained to me later that he could not name something like love which is just a 4-letter word to him and he never really experienced or said it to anyone before. For me on the other hand, I thought I knew exactly what this word means since I had this strange new feeling in my chest everytime I thought of him.
There are so many “firsts” in life. We learn and speak a new language, we start to ride a bike and we sort of know that the initial discomfort we experience is just temporary. Of course, we are expected to fall off that bike and scratch our knees as well as we are expected to destroy the pronunciation of the world “millefeuille”; however, we will figure it out eventually. Whatever seemed impossible at first becomes second nature at some point. This theory applies to a lot of things but it seems it does not so much with being or falling in love.
What is love anyway? What do we actually mean when we say, I love you?
Throughout the years I have learned and realized that love is perpetually uncomfortable rather than constantly thrilling. Yet, love is something that may keep me up all night. Love is a weird game of assuming and guessing and is great to misinterpret or to analyze to some insane point. What is a normal relationship? Do there need to be high highs and low lows at points or is it rather smooth sailing instead or this oscillating wave?
So being in love in high school meant for me being engaged in silly fights, arguments, and betrayals but also with a lot of sobbing into the shoulder of his shirt after we were “good again”. It meant I wanted him to spend time with me all the time. It meant getting a “friendship ring”. It meant using him as a security blanket yet I knew when I joined police academy and moved away a breakup was imminent which also made my chest feel tight. So many changes and we were so young. It felt suffocating and intoxicating at the same time. It was messy, exciting, devastating, uncertain but all this is what love is supposed to be like, right?
Is love a game? There are periods of time when I patiently waited for a message from my partners but nothing arrived. I thought this meant he is not that into me. If he does not write back after we had sex, it means he does not want to have a serious relationship. If he wants to move in with me too quickly, this means he really loves me because he wants to get to know me. I changed certain boyfriend’s names in my phone to “asshole”, “do not pick up”, “psycho” or a monster emoji. Sometimes, when people asked me if I am still in love with a partner I said, NO, absolutely not and deep inside I thought I just feel nauseated, pathetic, and precarious. So, maybe love is supposed to feel like that? Does this mean I am still in love? It cannot be love because I felt pain. Pain/love, I am not so sure about since I detest the housewife porn 50 Shades of Grey.
I started dating again. He did not say I love you within the first week or months and I realized how happy this made me feel. Also, I did not have the feeling to say it either. I realized then and there that this label LOVE may just not be real love but just something you say because one is supposed to say it. “Screw love: respect and honesty are what we need”, a very close friend of mine told me tonight and I reckon he made a good point.
It is a great feeling to realize that fighting is not an issue with certain people. That things can be very easy and simple conversations and valuable time spent together is salient (fancy word for important). Cooking together, talking for hours, watching something or reading together is different without putting the love-label on it all but rather just enjoying each other’s company. Just totally and utterly unremarkable things that mean a lot to me. But this is where I am now realizing that love in its steadiest, truest and rewarding form is just simply dull. Since I do not focus and put pressure on love hence there is nothing to overanalyze and nothing to second-guess, to refuel or pursue, to proof which means it is easy and so contrary to popular stereotypes and cinematic tropes. That does not mean it is not exciting but it is something that does not pick me up and drops me but rather buoys me instead. It just is. And it is perfect this way. For me.