We have all been smitten. We have all experienced the pangs of a broken heart biting deep into the crevices of our crushed souls. We have all felt how it was waking up in a universe where the love of our lives, or shall I say ex love of our lives, are non-existent. For those who have not felt this, enjoy the moment now, for it will not last. Because you will, at some point in your life, fall in love – and possibly fall out of it.
We all have our notions of what love is, what it can and what it cannot be. It could be coming from our family and friends, what we have watched from movies or from TV, what we have read from fiction and non-fiction books, or simply from our own experiences.
What falling in and out of love has taught me
We may not be able to put everything that we have learned on paper and enumerate it like a scientific experiment, but here are a couple of points that can be gathered from getting involved with that four-letter word called love.
#1 Love is not a romantic comedy nor is it a fairy tale with a happy ending. Ah, all those movies that fill your head with romantic scripts, grand gestures and dramatic tension. It’s all put in there to make the viewers feel good after watching it. Studios need to sell enough tickets in the cinemas to pay off their actors and actresses. They were written in such a way that they can tell a story that would normally have spanned 20 years, but will only be shown in the cinema for 90 minutes.
Love is much more than realizing in a split second that you have undying love for a best friend or a colleague. Or just because you are put in a situation where you need to quickly decide, you do not get into a ballroom full of dashing knights and charming princesses, and hope that you hit it off with someone just by staring at each other and dancing the whole night through.
Falling in love with a person usually happens in miniscule increments. You may not notice your feelings developing, but when you do, it feels like a bag of bricks to the head. And it’s not always as dramatic as movies make it out to be.
#2 You can choose to be in control, but sometimes, fate dictates otherwise. There are so many times that we get into relationships and would have done everything and anything to make it last. But sometimes, things just don’t work out like we would have liked them to. We have limitations as to what we can control, and one of those limits would be the feelings of our partners who chose to leave us. We need to accept the things that are out of our control. After all, loving is a risk.
#3 Did you say easy? Some people think that loving each other is the easiest thing to do. In serious relationships, it’s not a walk in the park. It will be a gruesome ring match with no referees. There is nothing easy in confining two individuals with two distinct backgrounds and traditions, and making them come up with their own combined recipe.
It will take time to get to know each other, it will take time to adjust to each other’s eccentricities, and it will take time to get accustomed to each other’s preferences. There is no shortcut or a doctor’s prescribed way of making a relationship work.
#4 Did you say forever? Even if you do get married, forever will only be possible if you get married once. With divorce and annulment within anybody’s grasp nowadays, you can get married five times if you can afford to do so.
We are not being cynical about marriage. Some marriages are the epitome of forever, they are just so luckily and hopelessly in love with each other that they do not even notice that 30 or 50 years have gone by. Your first serious relationship may not last forever, no matter how much you love your partner. After all, forever seems like a long way ahead. Focus on making things work now instead of filling your head with fantasies of forever.
#5 Work, work, work. Love needs work. In order for you to get to know your loved one, you will need to spend time talking, befriending their colleagues, getting to know their families, discovering what their preferences are. You cannot just sleep with a person for one night and miraculously know that he prefers his butter on top of the jam or that the first thing she does when she comes home is feed her fish.
If you have been in a relationship long enough for you to already know these things, you cannot rest on your laurels and be extremely comfortable with the relationship. You will still need to ignite that fire every once in a while, and remember that today is the day when she will deliver an important speech at work or today he will need his tux ironed for a formal night with his family. Sometimes, it’s the little things that will make the biggest differences and also the littlest things that need the most work.
#6 Love is always different. Each relationship is unique. Your relationship with your fiancé is not the same relationship that your mother had with her fiancé. As much as we want stories that we can relate to, we cannot even begin to compare our love lives with those of others.
Love can never be replicated, even if the individuals themselves are the same. If you have broken up with your first girlfriend 10 years ago and find yourself in a relationship with her again, only, you have both finished high school and now have stable jobs, the relationship will always start from scratch. You will have learned different things and matured separately. Never treat any kind of love the same way.
#7 Falling out of love? Don’t worry it’s allowed and forgivable. Some people think that falling out of love is a grave sin to commit. Yes, you promised to love and cherish someone for as long as you possibly can, but it does not mean defying yourself, when you find it difficult to even be in the same room as this person. There’s no point in trying to make a doomed relationship work.
#8 You are also allowed to make mistakes. There is no such thing as a perfect love that doesn’t go through a couple of roadblocks. Two people can never pull off a hassle-free, no snags relationship that doesn’t have its own share of rough patches.
It’s important to avoid making mistakes. But when you do, what’s more important is how hard you work to repair the damage and reinforce your bond.
#9 You are allowed to have fun on your own. A common mistake that people who are in love do is that they try to force their personal definition of fun onto their partners. Just because you’re in a relationship, doesn’t mean you have to be into the exact same things. Your individuality doesn’t rest on your partner. So spending some time apart to do your own thing is just as important as spending time together.
#10 You can wallow in self-pity, cry a river, and throw in a few regrets and what-ifs. Love is tough, and a breaking heart is tougher, but going through both is the toughest. Some people try to get through this by completely forgetting about giving themselves time to heal and instead, bury themselves in work or studies, or get it on with a rebound.
The only way you will get over love is for you to have self love first. Do not deny yourself this time to discover and really feel your emotions. At the end of your ordeal, you can be certain that you will be able to love again. You just need to recover first.
#11 You cannot know everything. Even if you have been in more relationships than you can count on your fingers, you will never be an expert on love. Even if you have finished reading these love lessons, and have pondered on them every waking moment of your life, it will never be a guarantee that everything you have read here is all there is to know and experience. Experience is the greatest teacher, when it comes to love. But even experience can’t teach you everything you need to know.