Love is bullshit.
At least the kind of love they sell in movies or on tv.
The pretty, perfect, fairy-tale kind of love most of us spend our lives chasing…
Love like that is fun to fantasize about, but the truth is that real love is awkward and messy.
Most people never have to define what real love means to them, but recent events in my life have forced me to do just that, so here goes nothing...
You see in my mind, real love is flexible and resilient while fake love is rigid and fragile.
Real love understands failure and has the power to use it as the foundation from which to strengthen a relationship.
Fake love leverages failure as a breaking point.
Real love is a parent picking up their drunk teenager at the police station at 3:00am... It’s a spouse looking past a layoff and picking up the extra slack without stopping to blink... It’s sticking by someone’s side while they face their darkest demons…
If you want to know whether or not your love is real then you should challenge it. Not with malice, but with sincerity. Because unchallenged love is not love at all.
Real love is painstaking labor and requires unwavering commitment from both sides at all times.
It has the wisdom to dismiss undesired behavior as poor attempts at communication. It recognizes emotional outbursts as unsophisticated mechanisms for saying the things we may not know how to say with words.
Sometimes real love requires one person to be stronger than the other, sometimes both people have to be strong for each other, and occasionally, you both get to be weak together.
Sometimes everything feels hopeless, and in that moment you’ll have to decide whether or not to push forward. But real love always pushes forward, because that is what defines it.
Because real love is forever, without equivocation.
It’s two people living life, making mistakes, finding a way through, fighting for one another… Choosing to stay together.
If you ask me, real love is a decision, not an emotion. And when you make that decision from the heart, it can outlast anything.
Which means real love is about getting to a place where not being together is no longer an option.
And if you ever find someone to love like that, then you should hold on to them for dear life.
Assuming you realize it in time that is…
Because people worth loving like that do not come into our lives every day, and keeping a love like that is more work than most of us are willing to put in.
This is what we should be teaching eager young lovers to seek from one another. This is the behavior we should be glorifying in our society. Not the lust-driven superficial bullshit they spoon-feed us in pop culture.
Loyalty, dedication, commitment, tenacity, resilience… These are the characteristics of real love… Anything else is just make believe.
But real love is not invincible.
Even seemingly benign behaviors can leave lasting emotional marks forever ruining your chances of ever reaching real love. These subtle blows which seem innocuous at first can add up to big bruises over time.
Micro-confrontations which compound to cause more damage than a single event or mistake ever could.
This is where the seeds of resentment start to grow.
This is where exasperation becomes embedded deep in the mind of your significant other, available for replay on-demand, constantly serving as a painful reminder of your temporary failures.
This is the place where simple disagreements become blowout arguments.
Where passive aggression becomes the seeds of resentment I mentioned above.
This is where potential love comes to die before it can ever become real.
This is where conversations with friends about a momentary struggle become insurmountable milestones which make it impossible to turn back. Moments which make it seem like it would be much easier to remove yourself from the situation as opposed to finding a way to fight through.
Because perception is a motherfucker.
Because we seek shelter from pain in the advice and confirmation of others who love us.
Because when our friends and family see us hurting, they seek to protect us. But who among us shares enough of the real story about our love to let others make decisions about how we love.
Anyone who knows real love knows that it is a delicate balance which needs to be carefully maintained between the two parties involved and them alone.
Like the balance of a joint bank account, deposits must be made frequently by both parties in order to avoid risking the 2 phased outcome which will inevitably result from failing to do so.
- Resentment grows over who is making more contributions to the account.
- Someone over-drafts the account in the moment they need the others love the most.
Because real love is a lot of things, but it is not an endless supply of empathy or a bottomless buffet of support.
Instead it is a juggling act of trust and compassion, of sacrifice and suffering, of happiness and grace.
The capacity to recognize and embrace this is what matters most about life. And it’s taken me 35 years to figure this out.
As a kid I used to think 35 was ancient. Now I’m here, and it feels like I’m just getting started. Like I’ve finally learned enough about how the world works to do something special with my life.
But something is missing…
Someone is missing.
Someone who is willing to love me the way I have just described above. Because in my experience, love can be amazing, but it can also be a lie.
So I guess I’ll just keep looking for someone who is willing to fight with me but still love me like none of it matters.
Someone who’s willing to stand by my side regardless of what the world throws at us next.
Because that is the only kind of love I’m interested in.
The kind of love that makes life worth living.
The kind of love that leads me to write words like these…
The kind of love I promise to give you when I tell you I love you. Because I do not make that commitment without understanding the depth of what I have just written.
So I’m not interested in weak willed or mild mannered love…
I am only interested in the kind of love that amplifies itself when times get tough.
The kind of love where both parties are constantly challenging each other. Pushing and pulling for the things they want and fighting to find a balance somewhere in between. Perpetually learning and growing in some meaningful way throughout the entire process.
The kind of love that lets you know you’re working through the hard shit, not the kind that leaves you thinking the hard shit doesn’t exists...
Because anyone can be “in love” when things are easy. The challenge is finding someone who will still love you when everything goes wrong.
The challenge is finding the kind of love that is capable it forgetting and forgiving.
The kind of love that looks past the superficial and becomes fascinated by the spectacular.
Because any love other than the kind I’ve described above will never be anything more than mediocre.
And anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know shit about real love.
But like I said when I started…
What the fuck do I know about love anyway?