Love is perhaps one of the most complicated things to define. The term, after all, is rather abstract in its meaning and its substance. For many people, no two loves are the same. People have different ideals when it comes to love and relationships, and experience plays a huge role when it comes to these ideals.
When one first enters into a relationship, the feeling is all “sunshine and butterflies.” After all, there is nothing quite like the innocence of one’s first relationship. It’s like taking the first baby steps into unfamiliar territory. You find yourself stepping out of your comfort zone and opening yourself and your vulnerabilities to a complete stranger, and it can be both beautiful and frightening.
Swimming in strange seas
I have always been a cautious person. As a child, I was somewhat of a loner. I chose a few friends who I felt were loyal to me. I shied away from crowds because I felt that I drowned in them. Strangely enough, I would consider myself quite the hopeless romantic. As I was growing up, I found myself to be falling in love with the concept of love. My introspective nature allows me to see a somewhat idealistic, albeit unrealistic view of the world.
Soon, the cautious girl found herself to be falling in love with someone who was “not-so-cautious.” It was, in many ways, a case of how “opposites attract.” True, I had many crushes before, but this one was different. I found myself feeling a mix of emotions, and I was having an internal debate. I was, after all, about to graduate college and entering a relationship would add another milestone in my young life. [Read: 50 relationship questions to test your compatibility]
What I learned from falling in love
Looking back, there is no greater teacher than experience. Life is indeed funny because it brings us to the people who would teach us the greatest lessons that we need to learn. I am well aware that my journey goes ever forward, and that I am still learning. As Bilbo Baggins once said, “The road goes ever on.” The lessons I have learned these past seven years remain evergreen.
#1 Love is not like the movies, at all. Most people would say that love is like a fairytale. I beg to disagree. In fact, the original fairytales were often sadistic tales of gore and death. I am a huge fan of the romance genre. Every now and then, I would find myself to be a sucker for these movies that it embarrasses me. But love does not work the way that the movies do.
We are all human beings with our limitations and weaknesses. Big romantic gestures, if thought out in real life, would fall flat on your face. In the end, I didn’t need my love story to work out the way the movies did because that would be so predictable. After all, it is the little mysteries that keep relationships even more exciting.
#2 There is no perfect relationship. Let us get one thing straight, no one’s relationship is perfect. All those lovey-dovey couples you see on social media are just one-sided posts to the story. No couple is without flaws, fights, arguments, and mistakes. But you weather through them with each other’s help. As cliché as it might sound, a relationship is about two imperfect people weathering through life’s storms together.
#3 As time goes by, your partner becomes less perfect and more human. And that is perfectly okay. We go about entering into relationships thinking we found the perfect one for us. We find their little quirks and idiosyncrasies to be quite adorable, and at times, charming. However, there is such a thing called the ‘honeymoon period’ and as soon as it’s over, one would find these quirks to be less charming, and at times, downright irritating.
We would soon find out that our partner would have flaws. It’s not like they weren’t there before, we just seemed to have glossed them over during the entire honeymoon period. I immediately realized that I didn’t want my partner to be perfect, I wanted him to be flawed, because I too was flawed. When you both accept each other’s flaws, you get to see a deeper part of yourselves. [Read: 16 secrets to finding happiness in your relationship]
#4 Your love becomes more “real.” There are different stages of love. When one enters the first stages of the relationship, it is a love that is “innocent” because the entire relationship is new. We go about not expecting anything. We don’t expect to get hurt, we only expect happiness.
As time goes by, and reality sets in, you will find out that in one way or another, you will get hurt. Seeing your partner as someone who is capable of making mistakes would make it a challenge to love them. Such is the challenge of love: it becomes less of an ideal and more real. [Read: 10 ways to love more and hurt less in love]
#5 You become comfortable in each other’s silence. During the first few stages of your relationship, you want to know everything about the person. You want to have conversations every chance you get because you fear silence. When you get deeper into the relationship, there is no such thing as awkward silence. In fact, it is only comforting to have some quiet time together.
Oftentimes, this kind of silence speaks louder than words. It brings peace into the relationship. It only shows that the relationship has matured and that you are respecting each other’s space. You might be doing different things silently, but you are in perfect communion with each other. [Read: 8 little habits that bring couples closer]
#6 Love becomes less of a feeling, and more of a choice. People say that one of the common misconceptions of love is that it is a feeling. One gets the “butterflies in the stomach” feeling whenever one’s significant other is near. Perhaps it isn’t a misconception, after all.
Rather, as we grow older and progress into the relationship, the love that we share evolves into something more. To love maturely is making the choice to keep on loving this imperfect person when you know that they have flaws, that they are capable of making mistakes. This is where the beauty of love begins.
#7 There is nothing more eternal than true friendship. A mature relationship means more than just romantic feelings towards each other. It also entails being friends. Love goes beyond the romance, because when it all comes right down to it, love is based on friendship. When you are each other’s best friend, you both know that you have someone you can rely on as the years go by.
#8 Intimacy is always key. Intimacy means more than just * . Intimacy is a meeting of minds and ideas. Intimacy is reading each other’s favorite books. It’s having a healthy argument every now and then. Your shared intimacy is a reflection of who you are as a person and how you share it with your partner. It shows your compatibility in the end. Intimacy brings you closer in a deeper level that no words can truly define. [Read: 13 unique ways to build intimacy with your partner]
I have grown older. I am no longer the innocent girl, fresh out of college with all her ideals on love and romance. Now in my late-twenties, I could say that I have matured quite a lot. I am not saying that I know a lot about love, in fact the more I think I know about love, the more it evades me. What I do know is that I am no longer the same person.