Oh, that four-lettered word.
I’ve never felt comfortable writing about love, because I feel like my experiences are somewhat different to those of the average person.
There is my tendency to linger after my exes, my inability to ask somebody out without the use of a touch screen and a social network, and of course, my big, ever-forgiving heart.
You need to understand, modern dating wasn’t my first introduction to the phenomenon that is love. I spent my childhood watching Days of our Lives and Bold and the Beautiful. I listened to the likes of Kenny Lattimore and Boyz 2 Men croon it out on the radio.
So, the first kind of love that I was exposed to was the “fairytale” kind. The racing heartbeats; the endless sex; the romantic getaways and teary-eyed brides….and Sami Brady. That’s a heavy concept to enter a little boy’s brain, but at least, I became a hopeless romantic.
I became a primary school Cupid, matchmaking and making complex compatibility tests (FRESHMILK lives on forever!), all the while getting snubbed by all the beautiful girls. Then I realized I was gay, and the paw-paw really hit the fan.
I thought that this would be the closest I’d ever get to love -leading others to it, but never finding any for myself. For a gay teenager with no social skills to actually find love? What were the odds?
But then, the odds were defied. I met two wonderful people, one after the other, who taught me valuable lessons on not only love, but life itself. What is love anyway, besides a great amplifier of one’s life?
Finding love forced me to be braver, to develop a rudimentary knowledge of social skills, to kiss (the jury’s still out on that one!), to look inside the eyes of another person and say the words “I love you”.
Those moments didn’t swell me up in romantically-induced hormones, but they did make me feel like I was growing.
And after both my exes split up with me, I went mad. I cried for days. I begged them to take me back. Why? Because, to me, they weren’t just passing flings or time wasted. They’d come into my life and changed it, simply by being there.
That’s what love is, in my 19-year-old opinion- a willingness to support and propel another person to their own personal happiness, while trusting that they’re doing the same for you. I can say a lot of negative things about my ex-boyfriends, but the fact is: they made me a better person, intentionally or otherwise. Hopefully, I did the same to them, whatever that means.
I never quite learned to “get over” people I once loved. The term is thrown around so much and so easily in popular culture. “Let go”. “Get over…” “Walk away from….”
It implies that something you’ve put in a lot of time, effort and faith can be discarded in one go, and that’s overly simplistic.
Call me a hopeless romantic, but I think it’s natural to always love your ex. In an accepting, we-had-fun-a-long-time-ago way.
What have I taken away from the whole dating scene?
Well, the “fairytale” kind of love is just that- a fairytale. Real love is challenging. Real love breaks barriers, it demands growth and change. Real love exists in the tiny little moments that are anything but romantic.
Because after a breakup, you learn to put yourself first. You simply have to. You get shocked every time you hear your own laughter, because you never thought you’d laugh again. You wear your Sunday best, and put on your perfume or cologne to boost your confidence. You find a new hobby, focus on your career, finally quit listening to the crappy music your ex loves…you put yourself first. That’s what I did. That’s what I’m busy doing.
Regardless of whether there will be a third time, or if it’ll be the charm, I have me.
I really love me.
And that’s what it’s ultimately all about.