The Emotional Roller Coaster Is Not Love

In sophomore year of high school, I thought I was in love with the guy I was dating.

He was a couple of years older than me. He had already graduated high school but wasn’t going to college or doing anything much with his life at all.

He had a car, but even though he lived about half an hour away he never drove to see me.

He was single when we met, but was always talking about the woman that got away.

Instead of turning me off, all of these facts made me want to work harder to earn his love. He was my first real relationship. And I thought being in a relationship meant I was worthy of love, so I wanted to stay in the relationship.

And for him, ‘earning’ love meant having sex. He didn’t say that, but he was cold and distant when I would say I wasn’t ready. I felt desperate to bring him close. I felt like I was on an emotional rollercoaster when he would pull me in, then push me away.

At that point, I thought that love was a feeling. I thought love was supposed to be like my favorite Taylor Swift song “The Way I Loved You.”

Breakin’ down and comin’ undone
It’s a roller-coaster kinda rush
And I never knew I could feel that much
And that’s the way I loved you

Screaming, fighting, acting insane. If that song was right, being in love meant I wouldn’t be able to control my emotions.

I decided I must be in love with this guy. I couldn’t control my feelings, that was for sure. And whenever he would pull away from me after I told him I wasn’t ready to have sex, I drove myself crazy wondering what I could do to make him like me again. I had to know he would stay with me. So, finally I lost my virginity to him.

Not too long after that, he broke up with me.

Sure, this guy made my heart skip a beat, just like in that Taylor Swift song. But it’s because I was so anxious about our relationship that it was making me physically sick. That’s what love is, right? I thought to myself: Completely losing yourself to the other person.

When I met my fiancée, I discovered for the first time that being in a relationship doesn’t mean that at all. And it certainly doesn’t mean having anxiety attacks about your significant other’s dedication.

In our first few dates, I had this giddy, easy feeling. We clicked instantly; it was like catching up with an old friend.

Between dates, he would make sure to check in on me. I was never left wondering where I stood with him. This left me so secure in his interest in me that I never really had any strong feelings throughout the day. Except when I was reading a text from him and grinning from ear to ear, of course. But in general, I could go through my day to day life. Except it was better, because he was a part of it.

If someone makes you feel like breakin’ down and comin’ undone, that’s not love. Real love doesn’t cause a roller-coaster of drama, but a sense of genuine happiness from knowing that someone is there for you.

Sure, sometimes I look at him in the eyes while we’re eating dinner and my heart swells. Other times, he says something that makes me roll my eyes. But I never thought I could feel this much (excuse the lyrical pun). I love him enough to choose love each day. And I know he loves me enough that he will continue to choose to love me.

Johnna

is a four-time half marathon and two-time marathon finisher who became Catholic during the 2017 Easter Vigil. Both of these facts would have surprised me and anyone I knew growing up, but I have learned that – just like in the plot twists and turns of the romance novels I devour – surprises like that are common in real life love stories. I believe in love because true love has given me the strength to keep fighting.
Johnna
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