I am wondering if I am one of many people who at their twenties find themselves snickering when love is mentioned. I am not saying I don’t believe in love anymore – well, deep down I believe everyone longs for passionate yet comforting love like those in romance novels – I am just saying that the older you get, the more you see things that are incoherent with how we think love should be.
I’ve had my moments. I fell in love with some guy who wasn’t even that special and I really thought I could spend the rest of my life with that guy, until I realized otherwise. I was young and I didn’t think things through and I simply let myself get carried away with feelings. I thought that the butterflies and the sweet nothings equal love. It was so sweet and easy until we encountered a bump on the road and the fights started. When everything ended it was ugly all over the place and I thought to myself, “Maybe he wasn’t the one.”
Ironically, the same cycle happened repeatedly with different kinds of boyfriends at various time and place. All of them ended due to similar reasons following the same idea: Complications equal not The One.
So here I am, weary and exhausted. I feel like giving up the search of finding the one true love. I find it harder to let loose and open up. I become picky, cynical, and a tad bitter. Love becomes rare and foreign. And I think to myself, what if our definition of love is distorted from the beginning? What if love is not all about being irrationally emotional but also learning to be emotionally rational?
I don’t have all the answers yet and maybe life is actually about experiencing the process of getting the answers piece by piece, but here’s what I think:
Maybe it was easier for our younger self to fall in love (i.e. being emotional) because we gave in to infatuation without attaching too many criteria, principles, ideologies, and most importantly, our idea of an ideal future. It was almost as simple as “I like you and you like me back, let’s conquer the world together.” But as we get older, we learned that problems arise due to different backgrounds like family upbringing, race, belief system, financial status, social status, even education and occupation. We got ourselves entangled and crippled in so many checklists we need to tick in order to find the one person who meets most of the criteria that we somehow forgot to feel (i.e being rational). Or maybe we did like somebody but we dismissed him because he didn’t meet a particular criterion. Finding a lover-slash-life partner has becoming more and more similar to a job interview.
Maybe, love is actually about meeting someone halfway in spite of our differences. Maybe love is about constantly choosing to be with that person despite the circumstances and changes. Maybe love is about constantly choosing to be with that person despite his drawbacks and downsides. Maybe love is about constantly working together on the relationship. Maybe love is about constantly making the other partner feel loved.
Maybe it was easier for our younger self to fall in love because we weren’t as selfish as we are today.
So, if you find yourself snickering at lovebirds like I am, I believe you’ve had your moments too. However, think about it: We were young and reckless; we were irrationally emotional and that resulted in hurtful experiences – but that doesn’t justify our demanding a partner who continuously tries to keep us happy and well-served. That’s not how a healthy relationship works.
Our previous experiences should in fact teach us to be emotionally rational, meaning that, (of course) it is rational to find a compatible partner, but it is more important to constantly attending to each other’s emotional needs to feel loved (and normal daily needs too) even when the going gets tough and you don’t really feel like doing it. We are rational enough to love and care for our partner despite our emotional ups and downs.
Here goes the old cliché saying, “A relationship is about loving an imperfect person perfectly, and if I might add, even during imperfect situations.”
(But.. that’s hard and so complicated…)
Well, I never said that it isn’t.