What is love?
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The notion of love. Isn't that an interesting part of life? We talk about it all the time. We aspire to feel it every day. We have written countless songs about it. Some might consider it as the purpose of life, but what is it really? What is “your” definition of love? Is it a feeling that you feel in certain moments of time? Is it a lifestyle? Is it an energy? Is it a passion, or a person? Is it a mixture of chemicals in our brains? What is love???! And how do you know you have it? Perhaps if you catch yourself using the word often.
“I love my job!”
“I love my car!“
“I love my kids!“
“I love this city!“
“I love the summer!”
“I love my boyfriend!”
“I love my wife!”
“I love my parents!”
“I love you...”
I guess it’s different for everyone, but to me when someone says the word “love”, the first thing that comes to mind is a happy relationship. Now, what makes a relationship “happy”? Perhaps common interests, mutual respect, same goals and morals, good chemistry and good communication? I don’t know. I’m just throwing ideas around, I’ve never been in one myself.
Well…even though I’ve never been in a relationship, I’ve had the chance witness a few. It all started with my parents of course. Now their relationship was never something I would have categorised as happy or “loving”. There was a lot of yelling and harsh language involved and they had no respect for each other whatsoever. Until I started hanging out with my friends families I always thought my parents’ relationship was the norm. That’s how all relationships worked, but then it turned out that was not necessarily the case.
In my later teenage years, I ended up getting involved with a christian community and the couples in that community always had a really loving and calming aura around them. I loved hanging out with those people, because they were so affectionate towards each other, so that led me think, ‘maybe it’s faith in the same God that’s the secret to a happy relationship?’; but does that mean if you don’t belong to a religious community then you’re doomed to suffer in your relationships?
After high school, in my early twenties, I moved to the States to become an au pair. (An au pair is a nanny that lives with the family). And just like that, another era of my life began. I became part of a brand new family, which gave me an insight of another couple’s way of living. The parents in that relationship were a lot more calm compared to my parents. They had a lot of respect for each other I could tell; but I wasn’t always sure that the chemistry still worked between them. I’ve never seen them give each other a smooch, or a flirty look, but perhaps they were just very private. Anyway, I thought they were very intelligent and I liked how they functioned as a team.
Then after the States I moved in with my best friend (at the time) and her boyfriend in London; There was a lot of fighting in that relationship. They were constantly breaking up and getting back together. The girl had some expectations that the guy just never met, but she kept saying that she was “in love with him” and she was convinced that she can change him. Long story short, after a few years of being on and off, they ended up breaking up for good. (Or at least for now). I was living with them for over a year, but eventually our paths parted.
I’ve lived with 3 different couples after that, in a course of 3.5 years. As I was observing those relationships, they all seemed to be quite happy. As far as I know all 3 of them are still together until this day. In fact, they’re all having a baby by now. It was very rare to see them fighting, but even if they did, they seemed to resolve their issues quickly and efficiently. Most of the time when I saw them spending time together, they were really affectionate towards each other.
I always thought, just because I’ve seen so many examples as an outsider, that automatically means when it will finally happens to me, I’ll be bulletproof; I’m never gonna make the same mistakes as my parents, or some of my friends did. I’ll always be patient, kind, communicate my thoughts and feelings and I’m just gonna love with all my heart. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, no problem. I don’t understand how so many couples just can’t see how to make it work. They raise their voice so easily or get angry with each other over the stupidest things. They get jealous and possessive; I’ve heard so many of my girlfriends back in the days complaining about their boyfriends, saying stuff like,
“Argh…he hasn’t texted me back for 2 hours. It’s so annoying.”
I would think to myself,
- Jesus girl, calm down! He’s got a life too. Can’t be on the phone with you all the time. Let him breath a little. When I’ll have a boyfriend I’ll give him all the space and time he’ll need.
Yeah, for sure. 😏
It’s funny, for so long, romantic relationships represented “true love” to me. But as time passed, and I myself tried to get into one, some things just didn’t add up. If I “love” this guy as much as I think I do, then why do I hate him most of times? Why do I get angry so easily when he doesn’t text me back straight away? Why do I feel hurt if I feel like I’m not at the top of his list? Why am I so jealous when I see pictures of him hanging with other girls? Is this love? Really?
When my friends ask about my love life, I tell them about Swimmers and I say;
“There’s a guy that I’ve been seeing for a while now…”
“but, he’s still in touch with his ex and he doesn’t want to be in a relationship”
I swear I should start recording their reactions and make a montage out of it because whether it’s a guy or girl, they all have the same exact reaction…
“but I already have feelings for him and when it’s good, it’s really good!” - I’d quickly add.
“I know, but he’s never gonna give you, what you’re looking for.”
And then I would ask myself; What is it that I’m looking for? A relationship? Because if it’s a relationship, it’s not like I’ve never had to opportunity to get in one. Guys ask me out all the time, and when I look at them like “really? You wanna date me?” They would say;
“Of course, you’re the whole package… You’re pretty, you’re kind, you’re funny, you’re interesting. Any guy would be lucky to have you!”
That is really nice to hear, but it doesn’t really do much more than that. If anything I just think to myself.
- Can you please tell this to the guys I’m interested in?… because they are the only people on this planet that don’t seem to see it this way. 😏
Swimmers and I have been seeing each other for about 2 months now. I know he doesn’t want to be in a relationship right now, and I’ve been giving him quite a hard time for it. Now looking back and thinking how selfishly I’ve been acting, I’m actually really surprised he’s still talking to me. He must really see something in me that makes him put up with all the shit that I’ve been giving him. “What shit?” you might be asking…?
Well first of all, the night we met, without knowing any further information, I straight up accused him of being a fuck boy.
Then after he told me he’s not looking for a relationship, and I kept telling him it’s because he wants fuck around while keeping me on side.
Then when he went to France and told me he’s gonna hang out with his ex-girlfriend, instead of communicating how I feel, I just started acting out like a lunatic.
And last but not least, I told him a few of times that he’s driving me crazy and that he makes me sad a lot.
Last weekend we had a chat about these things, and he told me;
“The fact that I don’t want to be in a relationship has nothing to do with you. It’s just that I’ve been in serious relationships since I was 16. I jumped into one right after the other. Now I’m 22, I just got out of one and I can’t remember what it’s like to be on my own. I need some time to live my life. I don’t know what it’s like to not have a girl that I’m constantly talking , but I really like spending time with you. I’m not talking to anyone else but you and if I were to date anybody, it would be you. It’s not a refection on you. Don’t think that you’re not good enough.”
- Awwww man! Okay, that makes perfect sense, but what can I do when I wanna be with you so bad?
So I respond;
“but see? I’m the other side of the scale. I’m 26 and I’ve never been in a relationship. I’ve messed around here and there, but I never managed to make it to the point where it would turn into something serious. All I’ve ever known is how to be alone. I don’t know what it feels like to belong with somebody.”
He didn’t say anything to that. Seems like we have reached an impasse. I guess we just have to wait and see what happens, because I don’t wanna date other guys. How do I know?
Well…That weekend when he was in France, and I was out with my friends, I bumped into a guy I used play volleyball with for a few months. Anytime he showed up at the pitch I noticed that I would get a bit excited so I knew that I was somewhat attracted to him, but never really did anything about it. We never hang out outside of the games, but that weekend I thought to myself;
- Why not? Swimmers is probably fucking his ex right now. We would never work out anyway?…
So before the volleyball guy and I went on separate ways, we exchanged phone numbers. The following days he started messaging me. Any time I heard my phone buzzing, secretly I was hoping it was Swimmers. It wasn’t. It was the volleyball guy. He wanted to know if I fancied having a drink with him. Well not really, but I said yes anyway. Two days later - one day after the big fight with Swimmers - I met him in a bar. The date itself went pretty well. Even-though I was in agony I tried to be present and make this a good experience for him. We had a good conversation, but the whole time I couldn’t stop thinking how much I wanna be with Swimmers. In fact by the end of the date, I looked so under the weather he just really wanted to know what happened, so I figured I’ll be honest and just tell him what the situation was, so I said;
“Fuck it! I just tell you. There’s a guy that I’ve been seeing for a while now and I really really like him, but last weekend he flew to France to hang out with his ex-girlfriend, and I don’t think we’re gonna be able to work this out.”
“Okay, how long have you been seeing him?” - he asks
“About five weeks”
“But I can’t help it, I already have feelings for him.”
“Do you see him in your future?”
“I would like to, but I don’t think that’s an option for me.”
“You seem like a nice girl. You deserve someone who treats you well.”
I just smiled and said quietly,
The following weekend volleyball guy asked me out again, and at that point I haven’t heard a word from Swimmers for over 3 days. That never happened before. We would have some sort of communication everyday, so I had the feeling that we have probably come to an end. I felt heartbroken, and if we know something by now is that if I feel heartbroken, the first thing I do is seek validation. I wanted someone to boost my confidence, so I ended up going out with the volleyball guy. I knew he was into me. Just before I left the house I was so temped to message Swimmers something like ‘I wish I was going out with you tonight’, but I figured it will not do any good so I decided to keep it to myself. I met up the guy and I could tell he was pumped to see me. I was happy to see him too, but I would have been 10x happier if he was Swimmers. We went out to a bar, then to a club, and eventually I could tell, he wanted to make a move on me.
- What do I do now? Do I wanna make out with him?
- I mean making out with Swimmers definitely healed the wounds after Australia.
- Yeah, but that felt different. When I was with Swimmers, Australia didn’t even cross my mind. But now I just keep imagining Swimmers face onto this guy’s face. That’s just silly.
- Sylvia I told you! Stop crying over guys that don’t care about you, just move on!
So he leans in to kiss me and I kiss him back. Yeah, the whole time I was picturing that I was kissing Swimmers.
- This doesn’t feel right.
- I wanna be with Swimmers.
Don’t get me wrong. I think volleyball guy is attractive and I know he’s super into me. It would make so much sense just to give it a try, but the heart wants what it wants.
The next week, I ended up ringing Swimmers. He called me back, we had a little chat and it seemed like we were back on track. Poor volleyball guy has been messaging me ever since, but now I just keep ghosting him. I know it's a bitch move, but as long as Swimmers wants to talk to me, I don't feel like talking to anyone else but him.
Sometimes when Swimmers messages me something sweet or after we hang up the phone, I feel a wave of affection running through my body and then I often think to myself…
- ahhh, I love this boy so much!
But is it really him that I love or the fact that he’s satisfying a need of mine? How can I say that I love somebody when as soon as he doesn’t meet my expectations, I’ll get upset and suddenly I hate him.
Romantic relationships might be just the worst example of what love is, (Or at least in my case). I'm so selfish. I love you, but only if you do this and this and this and this and that. I give you my list of expectations and if you don’t meet them one by one, I fucking hate you. Really? No wonder why I can’t find love. I’ve been doing it wrong all along. Have I not learned anything?
Love is not something I have to look for in the other person. Love is something that’s been within me all along. Love is coming from me, It’s not something I take, but rather something I give. And true love is unconditional. I don’t only love you when you do the things that make me happy, but I love you even if you don’t. And what do I mean when I say ‘i love you’ ? I mean that regardless of any situation, all I care about is your well-being. Even if you don’t want to be with me anymore, even if it’s someone else that’s making you happy… As long as you’re happy, I’m happy.
Love doesn’t have to mean anything else, yet we're so scared to say it. Some people would tell me; “I would never say it unless I’d marry the person.” It’s like “love” is this huge weight of responsibility and commitment, when in reality all it really should mean is that ‘I care about you’.
Now, I don’t mean to come off as a saint, because as you can tell I have the tendency to dwell upon certain situations and I often project my own demons and insecurities unto people. However, every day I wake up I have the opportunity to make better choices than yesterday.
I really would like to experience what it’s like to feel free not only mentally but emotionally as well. So if Swimmers needs time and space to be happy, then that’s what I will give him. I’m not gonna hold it against him anymore, as long as he wants to see me or talk to me, I’ll be there for him. If he eventually wants to see other girls, or if he decides to leave me, regardless of my feelings I’ll respect that too, because me wanting to control how he feels about me is what has been causing the pain. It was never him, but my own expectations and desires that have been hurting me all this time. I don't have to be in a relationship with him to experience love in its purest form. All I have to do is truly care.
So as long as he’s happy, I’m happy. ☺️
my train of thoughts were inspired by this video: