What I Know About Love | 2018 Edition

“I would say in one word, love is unpredictable.”

Inspired by the forntightly Conversations on Love newsletter by Natasha Lunn, and the book I am currently reading – Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton (I’m sure you’ve seen it in lots of places) – I decided to ask my friends a few questions on their thoughts and experiences on, and of, love, specifically in it’s romantic form. It’s a topic that I’ve been much fascinated by for most of my life – and I’m sure any other bibliophile would tell you the same – although I’ve paid very little attention to it up until last year, when I met someone who changed my perspective on the whole thing. After some thought, I came up with the following three questions that I wanted to ask and get insights from:

1. Have you ever been in love, and if yes, how would you describe it in one word or sentence?

2. What do you think is the greatest misconception we hold about love today?

3. And finally, what do you wish you’d known about love as a teenager?

I said that the answers would be fully anonymised, because I wanted real, honest and unfiltered responses from everyone I asked. Here are the wide and wonderful array of responses I gathered from both my male and female friends:

1. Have you ever been in love, and if yes, how would you describe it in one word or sentence?

“I would say in one word, love is unpredictable.”

“Yes. Influential.”

“Love is home.”

“Yes. Painful.”

“Love is a balm.”

“Yes. Miracle.”

“I would say that love surprises you.”

“Yes. Finding someone who brings out the best in you and feels like an extension of yourself that you never knew you had.”

“I think the feeling of being ‘in love’ is actually a very specific state experienced at the start of relationships as people are forming a bond. It’s like a fire.”

“Exciting. Nerve wrecking about the unknown.”

“Love is the strongest form of friendship.”

2. What do you think is the greatest misconception we hold about love today?

“The greatest misconception I feel is the idea that we can’t have it all. As in, with the right person, you can – or at least it should feel like you do have it all.”

“That it can be attained without great sacrifice.”

“The biggest misconception is that love is romance. Like the U2 song: I would never take a chance on losing love to find romance.”

“That love conquers all.”

“Just because you don’t say ‘I love you’ to someone, it doesn’t mean that you don’t love them. That just because a relationship ends, through a formal breakup, or through death, that you don’t continue to love that person.”

“That it’s rare.”

“Greatest misconception is that the perfect partner exists.”

“That we think it’s just feeling.”

“The biggest misconception is that [the feeling of being ‘in love’] is supposed to stay at the same level of fire as at the start forever and if it dies down then that’s a failure. We have unrealistic expectations.”

“The biggest misconception about love is the idea that you can only fall in love once, with one person only. There is no ‘the one’: love is plural.”

3. And finally, what do you wish you’d known about love as a teenager?

“I guess I’d tell my younger self not to fixate on moulding my perfect man because if it isn’t right there’s no point forcing it. You need to take a leap of faith and sometimes saying goodbye is easier than you think.”

“Opportunities abound with patience.”

“I’d tell my younger self to trust your gut instinct and follow and listen to your heart; it’s your life, your decision, no one knows better than you if or how someone can fit your heart.”

“Nobody can love you as much as yourself (except maybe your Mum). Be strong.”

“One person can’t monopolise your love.”

“True love is worth waiting for.”

“I wish I had been better at recognising if I am feeling love towards someone to save myself the pain or to rationalise the pain when someone doesn’t seem to like you the same way you like them.”

“The person who you fall in love with might not be the person you end up marrying.”

“Marry your best friend!”

“It’s about finding someone you respect without losing your self-respect.”


Below, I have decided to put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) and tackle these questions for myself, in a little bit more detail. This is mainly because my thoughts and experiences on the subject matter have greatly evolved since the days of being a wee bairn and I wanted to share what I have learnt from my life experiences so far. Writing things down always lets me comes to terms with things better – and from experience, has also helped others who have read my words too. These thoughts and views may not hold true for me 10 years from now, or even a year from now – a lot can happen and change in a year. But ultimately, as long as I am learning and growing as a person, and am open to opportunities, that can only ever help to demystify this one area in our lives which I feel, no matter how close we are to it, or completely and totally absored and enguled in it, seems to continually elude us.

My thoughts on Question 1: Have you ever been in love, and if yes, how would you describe it in one word or sentence?

For me this is probably the most difficult question to answer. Mostly because I refuse to admit that I am ever in love with someone or falling for them. Whether it’s an inherent fear of admitting to myself that someone else has some level of control over my thoughts and emotions, or projecting future stories of losing them and having to endure the subsequent heartbreak, I’ve always found it difficult to admit it to myself that I am in love, or falling in love with someone. Sometimes it feels like my whole mind and body is working against the emotion. But the answer is yes and no, or I don’t know – I do think I have experienced the process of falling in love, although regretfully I’ve only ever let myself realise this after it was too late. How would I describe it? It’s something that takes you out of your comfort zone and makes you grow.

My thoughts on Question 2: What do you think is the greatest misconception we hold about love today?

I think there are so so many misconceptions – mainly due to the media pumelling very narrow ideas about what it feels like – or should feel like – to fall in love or be ‘in love’.

Here are the ones that I have encountered or affected me, and the ones from which my ideas and experiences of love have matured in the latter half of my 20’s:

*  Misconception 1: That romantic, exciting and real love comes with heady sparks associated with concepts such as ‘love at first sight’. The kind that punches you in the gut and happens when you least expect it – that this is the only kind of ‘real’ or ‘true’ form of romantic love. The heady kind where you can do nothing but lament and think of your beloved. This for me, is probably the most ridiculous and damaging concept of love that we are socialised into believing from a young age, and that can hold us back when it comes to creating true and meaningful relationships with people, which take time and effort to develop. How many times have you met someone that has literally knocked you off your feet? Once, maybe twice, in your lifetime? And then what? Was it their good looks or charming smile and banter that got you winded? The thing about ‘sparks’ is that it is – just like all other feelings – a temporary feeling. Think about just how many times your emotions change throughout the day? So you can imagine basing your feelings on someone and how you feel about them as something temporal as sparks, is somewhat farcical.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely believe in feeling ‘sparks’ or having strong chemistry with someone – all I’m saying is that to base it on this happening immediately when you meet someone is just crazy. You definitely can feel it immediately, but you can also feel it later after meeting someone and getting to know them. What I’ve come to learn is that love can be ‘realised’ – that love that builds and has time to develop and grow, is just as powerful and meangingful and deep and exciting and heady and spark-filled as the love described in all those ‘love at first sight’ stories we’ve read – all the things and feelings you would associate with the ‘love at first sight’ can come as a result of the slow growth of getting to know someone and falling for them. You can go from feeling 0% to 100% about someone. In a world of fast food, fast sex, fast everything – I cannot stress the importance of not rushing love or the process of falling in love enough. Take your time, and enjoy all it has to offer.

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” – John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

*  Misconception 2: That you’ll know when you’re in love or know when you’ve met ‘the one’. There is no such thing as ‘the one’. When there are over 7 billion people in the world, there are going to be lots and lots of people that you are compatible with or get along with. Finding ‘the one’ is so circumstantial it’s unbelievable. I genuinely believe you can fall in love with anyone given the right environment and circumstances. ‘The one’ isn’t waiting out there for you and isn’t going to walk up to you whilst you’re sipping coffee at your local coffee shop. And if that does happen – it’s because they became ‘the one’ by how they treated and invested in you – and vice versa – you also chose that person to be ‘the one’ for you. Love is a choice, and ultimately you make the decision of who you love and invest in.

*  Misconception 3: That love is enough to sustain a relationship. Unfortunately it is not. Because it’s such a fluid emotion, it’s just not a strong foundation upon which to build a lasting, committed relationship. It is simply too unstable, fleeting, and constantly in flux. In addition to love, you need mutual respect, compatibility, aligned goals, appreciation of one’s values and boundaries and kindness to build a long-lasting and successful relationship. Contrary to popular belief, love does not conquer all.

My thoughts on Question 3: And finally, what do you wish you’d known about love as a teenager?

Here are the things I wish I knew:

*  Love is not something that you obtain, like a material posession. That once you get it, you have it, like some static piece of furniture that sits there, unmoving. Just like all other emotions, love is fluid – like the feelings that comes and goes based on how your stomach reacts to the burrito you ate for lunch, what’s happening in the White House this week, if England wins or loses, or who lives or dies on Game of Thrones. Once you have it, you don’t get to keep it or use it like a material posession – it ebbs and flows, and moves and grows.

*  That love is not rare. It’s everywhere and with the right environment, situation and outlook, it can be found anywhere and in anyone.

*  Love isn’t just about happiness or finding your ‘soul mate’. It’s about growth. It’s about self-actualisation.

*  You have to practice love everyday.

*  That love is a choice.

*  Not to be be afraid of showing love first.

*  Never understimate the importance of taking a chance or showing one second of vulnerability – it can change everything.

*  And ultimately… don’t overthink it or try and control it. Embrace what comes your way with open arms. If it ends in heartbreak then it ends in heartbreak. If it doesn’t, then enjoy all the fruits it has to offer you. Don’t have expectations; go into every encounter with an open mind, heart and smile. Meet people far and wide, and fall in love over and over again.


Thank you to everyone who contributed to this post. I really appreciated your responses and learnt a lot from all of your answers.

And now, over to you dear reader – I would love to know what you think – especially the three questions I’ve posed in this post. Comment below or get in touch with me via the Contact page or my socia media xx


Header image obtained from Google Images

 

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