My good friend Lauren, recently posted quite thoughtfully about love on her blog. I was going to quickly comment, but my quick thought turned into more of a blog post itself. This will make the most sense if you read her post first, but it should read rather cohesively on its own.
Love. What an infinite topic, but let’s focus on the two things you talk about: how you find love, and how do you know.
I really believe finding love becomes so much harder when you actively look for it. You’ve been doing quite the project and I do agree that this adventure (and what a cool adventure!) probably took you out of the present for the guys you were dating. There was an extra level of judgment knowing that you were already committed to going on a bunch more dates unless you fell hard and fast. High standards for sure. But of course, that’s compounded by the fact that there’s the traditional level of judging with dating.
Straight up dating is really hard. You have to validate that person socially on top of just having met them. Forget the romantics, you’re just trying to figure out if the other person is decent and not too weird (or, perhaps more appropriately, not too normal!). You’re starting a connection from nothing, which is both admirable and really hard! (I’m not saying it’s not possible, I fully believe it is. In fact, I am going to a wedding in September for a friend that met her fiancee online.)
I think meeting and dating the friend of a friend works so much better. There’s a whole layer of judging gone; there’s social validation. You both know that you have some connection already and clearly your friend can vouch for the other person.
Regardless of how you meet, many deep loves come from experiencing some level of friendship first. I think, over the long term, anyones love isn’t always going to blaze as fiercely as it did at first, but if you have a friendship as a foundation, man you’ll have one hell of a relationship. This is the other hard part about dating, in the traditional sense. It’s pretty hard to meet someone, date them and then be like “weelllllll, let’s just be friends for a bit and then see what happens”.
But once you meet someone and you are dating them, how do you know? I hate to break it to you, but I don’t think that there’s a cookie-cutter answer for this. (Yes, you are being too scientific.) It really is a truth that you recognize in yourself, in your fabric of being. Someone in a healthy loving relationship should be able to ask themselves “Do I love my significant other?” and answer yes through and through, without a doubt. Maybe it’ll even cause them to smile, like it just did for me, when I asked myself that question. (Yes, I’m deeply in love, extremely happy about it, and writing about it on my blog… hopefully Boston Girl doesn’t mind!)
Rhetorically: If you are angry, how do you know that you’re angry? If you’re happy, how do you know you’re happy? If you’re sad, how do you know you’re sad?
But in an attempt to be helpful, here are my answers to your questions:
Did it take more than one date?
Yes, of course! Oh my goodness, meeting someone cold for the first time, I think you can see possibility. But love… not likely.
I’m not 100% sure what you mean, but I never thought I wouldn’t find anyone and am so happy I got to a point where I found the relationship I’m currently in. I think there are ups and downs to any relationship, but the good relationships, the loves, there’s enough give in the relationship to make the downs not matter. Also, I think, honestly, love starts first with oneself. I have to love myself before I can truly love another. Could you wait until he called you back or did you hold onto your phone like one grasps monkey bars in childhood?
Well, assuming you’re down with me changing “he” to “she”…. I was nervous as hell with my girlfriend at the beginning. I would get nervous calling her and get scared that I was calling too much and hope that I was being funny enough on the phone just to hear her laugh. I do think there needs to be excitement at the beginning. Did you know you wanted to look into their eyes forever, hear their voice for always or did you have to distort it to accept it at first in your mind?
I think that you should be able to look into their eyes, in an unbroken, gaze and see love. Just be with each other. I didn’t have to distort anything. In fact, I never felt that I saw clearer.
Did you fantasize right away or did you run screaming before you see things clearly in the closer-than-it-appears mirror of self-reflection? What were the right jokes and right moves and the right time to kiss and was it right because it was simply all wrong? The facebook albums flooding my newsfeed, full of white dresses and tuxed best men, show me one endpoint and I wonder, could they articulate the beginning?
I am not in a place where I have the right to answer those questions yet, but here are some thoughts: there is no right and no wrong way to love. Some people probably do know from day one (or close to). Other people have a connection that sparks, kindles and then burns fiercely. I think of love like friendship set ablaze. I think the excitement of relationship is possibility. Is the relationship an open slate of possibility, of growing together, of adventures, silliness, seriousness, holding each other, being with each other? Those that are, bloom.
No one is perfect. No one. The beauty is seeing perfection in imperfection.True love comes from realizing that you’re whole and that you’re not missing anything. That you’re not relying on anyone besides you for your spiritual, mental or physical growth. That you are whole. And that you are ready to completely be half a relationship. And give your whole self to another person.
Last fall, an amazing realization I had was that many of the things that I coveted about past relationships that I thought were gone are actually things that I brought to the table and can still bring to the table.Lauren, the most important things are whether he can make you smile, whether he and you hold the same values, whether you wish he was there when he’s not — not because you are incomplete without him, but that it’s more fun when both of you are together. That you complement each other.
I realize none of that is really scientific. And most of it is probably not new to you. But love is not science. And it’s not new. It’s about making it yours. Be with the questions. Live how you feel, and don’t look for the answers, because — to paraphrase one of my favorite quotes — perhaps the answers can’t be given to you now because you would not be able to live with them. Be patient! The point is to live everything.
Or, perhaps more succinctly, as a wise friend once told me, “Think less, feel more.”