It has been a long time since I’ve written anything here. And a long time since I’ve felt like I had anything I needed to say. But now, at the beginning of a brand new year, I need to write down, more for myself than anyone else, some of the things I have learnt about love in the last year.
Love is NOT supposed to be an emotional roller coaster. Yes, we all know that first flush of love, and the excitement, and the butterflies. And we also know that it calms eventually and real love is what endures after that. But love that is real does not hold you to ransom. It shouldn’t make you fear changing situations and moods. If you are sitting with a stomach twisted in knots when you think of the person you “love”, that is not love – that is fear. When you are with someone that makes you feel calm and centred, yet strangely energised, that is the one you should be spending time with. Real love is a place of peace.
It is most important to be with someone who makes you laugh. Maybe we are all led into false hope by too many romance novels that words will always be tender and sweet, that the sex will always be mind-blowing, and that no one ever looks less than their best, but the true romance is that love remains in spite of, and sometimes because of, all the things that you don’t like in yourself. So when the butterflies have calmed to a mild flutter every now and again, make sure you have chosen the person who makes you giggle, and makes you see the ridiculous in yourself. Real love has a sense of humour.
All of us want some kind of fairytale romance, and too many great relationships are thrown away because there’s some small thing that doesn’t quite match the picture in your head. The truth is, we have to write our own fairytale. Every person’s story will be different – some people need the knight in shining armour, and the white horse and the sunset and all the trimmings, but even in those stories, there is a wicked witch somewhere. The fairytale for the 21st century is the person who drives you home and puts you to bed when you’ve had too much to drink, who comes to your rescue when you do stupid things like run out of petrol, and who makes you tea in the morning. Sometimes the true excitement in love is how comfortable and how “you” the other person makes you feel. Hold on to that. Real love is safe.
Real love is not needy and does not set out to hurt or wound. It has taken me this long to learn that when you have an argument or disagree, it doesn’t mean that you don’t love each other. Just because you enjoy different things, or have different friends, or need time on your own also doesn’t mean that your feelings are any less true. I don’t know why we feel that romantic relationships should be any different from the relationships you have with your family. And in most normal families, siblings fight with each other and with parents and none of it means that they are loved any less. Real love is unchanging.
It is a very sobering thought that I’ve had to wait until I was 30 to learn these lessons. So this is written with deep gratitude to the person who has taught me… Here’s to real love for everyone in 2014!
“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery