“Love” is a large word that encompasses a lot of things. After taking a Close Relationships course, I feel comfortable telling the world that I love “love”. Trying to break it down into smaller, non-scientific pieces though is much harder than learning the psychological understanding of the concept and all that plays into successful relationships. You have your standard communication skills and the ever important similarities found between two people; along with more abstract concepts like trying to define what love is and what kinds of love are out there in the world.
What I’m having a hard time with is fitting all the information and research into my grandiose emotions and feelings surrounding the actions of loving someone. And whether or not you know it’s love, whether or not that’s the love that is going to last, and whether or not humans are even supposed to live their lives with one partner.
NOTE: This is a long one! With lots of questions! If you have any comments or ideas on what love is, let me know.
In my studies, it was clarified (in different ways) that the three main pillars, of any kind of love, are commitment, passion, and intimacy. This definitely makes sense. A commitment to a relationship, the lust that comes with wanting to have sex with someone every day for the rest of your life, and the closeness that defines an intimate relationship. The problem is that these simple concepts fit together to make a vague, distracting big picture. What part of this equation explains that deep, inner desire to be around the other person? What explains that feeling you get deep in your gut that draws you closer and closer, physically and mentally, to the other person? How can you all of a sudden be able to look at someone and instantly know what is happening in their head or if something seems off? How do people start their wedding vows with “The moment I saw her, I knew I was going to marry her”…like what? The feelings associated with love can be explained by a simple lust or truly caring for another person, but what makes it different between just a normal relationship and someone that you truly, genuinely love and believe is your soul mate? Where’s the difference? What line has to be crossed for someone to believe they found the person they want to marry the first time they met?
I have kind of come to a small understanding of where I fall in this love spectrum and how I compare to others. The simple fact is that I love easy and I love hard. I don’t think there’s ever going to be someone that I think is my soulmate because, well…I feel that deep love for anyone I am truly committed to. Making sense of what love is and what I can do to lock in the true love of my life is a lot harder to do once I realize that I’m probably going to fall in love with everyone. Falling in love with everyone really means that no matter what, if I trust you enough to enter a relationship with you, there is going to be intimacy, passion, and commitment as a standard. There’s no way you could be in a healthy, romantic, long-lasting relationship if those weren’t there. So what makes one relationship different than another with me? How do I determine which one is the one I’m really supposed to fight for? There’s all these stereotypes and biases that come with someone “pining” or trying to save a relationship. When it’s a man, he’s romantic and sensitive and deserves respect. When it’s a woman, she’s desperate, can do so much better, and should go find someone new. That doesn’t make sense. If this is the relationship that I have decided to save and if I make the choice that this is what I want for the rest of my life…why would I ever stop trying? Those three things will be there, and I know they will, so why not keep trying?
My ex broke up with me a week ago. Not because he wanted to be with someone else…not because he doesn’t like me anymore…but, because he saw this as a way to preserve what we have while taking all the time he needs to be a workaholic and start his career. Okay. Fine, that’s…kind of valid. This was a relationship that I 100% saw working for the rest of my life though. I thought that this would be my last relationship because we work almost perfectly together (there’s always things to improve), we love each other, and it looked like life was only going to get better. The ups and downs that come with a long-distance relationship would all be worth it when we got to keep each other in the long run. Clearly…somewhere my mindset or my thought process went wrong.
This is what has spurred on my evaluation of what love even is. Everyone ends up saying “you just know” or “it’s just right” when they talk about their relationships. I feel that, I had that, and yet, I currently haven’t talked to the person I love in over a week. How does someone have that feeling and ignore it? Is it ignorance? Not knowing you love the person until something goes wrong and you’re sitting there saying “well, fuck”? Is it not trusting your instincts and refusing to follow them?
All heartbreaks fade. Everyone will move on, with enough time, from a relationship. Even if it was the love of their life. How is that choice made? How can I keep hoping that yes, this is the person I want, and yes we are going to end up together because I do not want anything else. Hoping and not moving on will make my years harder, without a doubt…but isn’t that what people in love do? Don’t I get to make the choice to love him and take what I can get until we have the chance to be together? Isn’t that what love is?
He said he wants to stay friends. He wants to spend the foreseeable future (while we are both in graduate school) to support each other in a friend way instead of an involved way. This would take the stress off both of us while keeping each other close. Not talking to him was my choice, and he let it be my choice, simply because I still want him. I want everything that he is so badly that I feel it in my core and my bones and my heart. The thought of being in the same room as him immediately makes my muscles relax and I am calm. The memories of all the cuddles and the looks and glances and the first time he kissed me on the cheek fills me with obscene happiness. Throwing that away makes zero sense to me. Tinting all of this with months of unspoken everything seems absolutely ridiculous.
But then again…is it needed? Do we both have to start this again on a blank slate? Does the intimacy and commitment have to revive itself before any hope of the passion can surface? I sure hope not. I’m placing goals in front of myself to reach before I contact him again. I need to impress myself. I need to have the confidence that I know he appreciates and loves again before I talk to him. I know all of this.
This doesn’t mean I’m not still confused though. Love is commitment, passion, and intimacy. Right now, the commitment is out the window, but the other two are still in place. No one can force anyone to feel a certain way, but won’t the commitment just come right back when we start talking? How does one separate what was once there and what it should be now? This is why I started this long ass post to begin with.
The information I have learned in class supplements and supports my relationship skills in wonderful ways. The downside is that is gives me terms and phrases to use for abstract feelings that I’m not sure can be quantified at the current moment. For all my knowledge of the human mind and brain I’m still perpetually running in circles around my own.