No matter your age, love is always an enigma.
In a culture that idolizes long-term relationships, our individualized concept of love is a mucked up regurgitation of “always a happy ending” false promises we see in Hollywood combined with what we see from the relationships of our parents, aunts, and close family friends. We then build up this dramatized ideal as to how our relationships will be “better”, or “stronger”, or “a purer form of love” based on what we’ve seen and experienced.
We don’t really know what love is, or how to measure it, or what signs to look for to know we’ve attained it aside from what we’ve been told. All of these characteristics of love are all self-determined by what was explained above. Our concept of love is like a snowflake; no two conceptions are ever the same. So, for starters, it’s best to understand that love and relationships are amazing but can ultimately be doomed from the start if you try to cram your feelings and opinions of someone else into a box that was basically made for you.
A lot of incredible things happen when you share your life with someone else. There’s the initial joy of finding common interests and establishing intimacy, also known as the honeymoon stage. You gain confidence and trust in that person over time, sharing moments along the timeline of both your lives that will be cherished forever. You now have someone to explore with, laugh with, and someone to snuggle with on Sunday when you’re really hungover and “can’t even”.
Aside from the many positives relationships bring, we’re not really warned about the hardships of relationships, and that’s not surprising. In the current era of social media people rarely share their dirty laundry, especially when it has to do with that special someone. We’re not encouraged to openly discuss and share the horrific things that happen between two lovers.
Relationships are great, but they’re also like a full time job. Even if you love it there are going to be days where you want to walk out and quit, wonder if there’s “something better out there”, or maybe even start looking at other jobs online in your spare time.
There will be times when you question everything. EVERYTHING. But there really isn’t an aspect of life that doesn’t invite crippling indecision at times. Friendships, hobbies, pets; everything and anything can bring up the paralyzing fear of “is there something better?” or “am I doing this right?” Even if everything appears to be going great in your relationship, you can always dig and pry and find something to complain about or question. Know that these feelings of uncertainty are going to happen to both parties, and it’s a completely common experience.
Sometimes fighting will be easier than getting along, and being mad is easier than being the bigger person. Conflict is inevitable and those who avoid it only make the problem worse by running from it. You can’t outrun personal problems or relationship problems. There will be aspects of your partner that may annoy or bother you, but who’s perfect?
If you don’t learn to find perfection in your partner’s imperfections, the relationship won’t last. Besides, would you rather cram someone into your mental box of a “perfect partner” or let them be their true selves, flaws and all? How you answer that determines two things: how selfish you are as a partner and how badly you want a relationship to work at any cost.
You’ll hurt alone and you’ll hurt together in a relationship. Unfortunately, you’ll also hurt each other from time to time. Don’t let your mind jump to extremes of infidelity or bold faced lies, but things happen.
Sometimes life throws you a knuckle ball you weren’t expecting when you step into the batters box of love. Hurt feelings will happen both unintentionally and, yes, sometimes intentionally. Most of us never fathom saying something hurtful to the person we love, but sometimes we say things we don’t mean in the heat of the moment. Pain is an unfortunate byproduct of love. At times, you’ll hurt separately and look to the other for support. Other times the pain will be shared. No matter how it’s experienced, the bond will grow stronger if you have the ability to endure it together. It is in enduring pain that a deeper, more appreciative love is formed.
Loving another person is never easy, but it’s always worth it. There are still many challenging points of relationships that I haven’t touched on here such as raising children, loved ones dying, and traveling together. But be choosey with whom you decide to love, and whom you give your love to. In the end, the aspects of relationships that bring the most pain are often the ones that lead to the most growth, allowing us to harbor a meaningful, worthwhile, everlasting relationship.
Featured photo credit: Barrett_Asia_Engagement_06 / Ryan Polei via albumarium.com