Last week I wrote about my fears of love. This week I don’t want to focus on those fears—I want to celebrate how far I’ve come in understanding what real love is.
Last year, I was in a very different place in my life. I had recently ended a long-term (but unhealthy) relationship. I was seeing someone new, but we were more like friends with benefits than anything, and I was feeling confused about love. I wanted to know how to love and be loved in return. I really liked this guy and wanted to be in a relationship, but at that point it just didn’t work out.
During that time I wrote a post about my questions and asked, “How do you know if someone really loves you?” I admitted, “I have no idea how to tell if someone loves me, or if I love someone else.”
I’m in a different place today. I’m pretty sure that after everything I’ve been through in life and through the mistakes I’ve made in relationships, I have finally been able to find my voice in love. I can say what I want instead of guessing or assuming that’s what love is or how it goes. I know, or at least I think I know, what love is.
First let me tell you what love is NOT. There were times I thought I was in love but now I don’t think it was real love, just infatuation. Infatuation is a short-termed passion or admiration for someone. It is not to be mistaken for love. Love is a deeper connection. You may have strong feelings with infatuation but for a very short time–almost like a crush on an actor or someone you went to high school with but whom you would never actually tell you liked them.
There were other times I thought I was in love, but it was just lust. Lust is wanting the person’s body but not who they are in whole. Yes, if you are in love you do have a strong sexual desire, but you also want every part of that person. You want to know even the deepest thought in their mind. You want to know anything and everything about them, their fears, joys, goals, dreams.
There were other times I thought I was in love, but it was more of an idea planted in my head by what society says love is. The images in movies send the message that love is just about sex and common interests—but I think there’s got to be even more to love than that. Besides, how many people do you actually see in real life that have a love story like something out of the movies?
Today when I think about love, everything feels different. My mindset—the way I think—is different. I went on a lot of dates and thought long and hard about what I was really looking for in a relationship. I noticed what I liked and didn’t like. But I also realized, like Cyrena wrote about yesterday, that any relationship that is only about me and what I want is not going to make me (or anyone else) happy. I started to see that real love is not just about me, but about us.
I read somewhere that you can tell that a guy loves you when he starts talking about “we” instead of just “me.” That’s the change that happened in me, too. That’s how I discovered what love really is.