I have some more thoughts on love.

I believe that love is not born, it is made.  I believe that what we think of as love – when you meet someone and “fall in love” with them – is nothing more than a complex cocktail of physical attraction, emotional need, and situational readiness.

You meet someone, and presumably you find them attractive.  There is something that makes you look more than once.  Perhaps you work with them, and you see them regularly, talk to them, spend time with them.  Something in them is attractive to you, probably on a physical level.  That’s usually a basic element.

Then there is an emotional need that you have, whatever it may be, that they fill.  Perhaps it is for someone to praise you…or comfort you…or intellectually stimulate you…talk to you as though you are an intelligent person…or just like you.  There are a million different needs that we have, each of us in our own unique way, and every one of them is valid.  Relationships meet needs, or we wouldn’t have them.  So this person meets your need for, say, someone who appreciates your ability to whip everyone else’s ass at Trivial Pursuit, as well as your mad driving skills.

And then there is situational readiness.  Perhaps you are 27 and thinking that it’s time to get married and start a family (even subconsciously).  Perhaps you have been divorced for a few months and are ready to start dating.  Or perhaps you just feel that your spouse doesn’t appreciate you and you are restless and looking for validation (which also fills the emotional need category).  For whatever reason, you are in a place where you are ready to engage with someone on an intimate, emotional level, whether you know it and acknowledge it or not.

So you “fall in love”.

And then one of two things happens:  you stay together and form a strong, lasting relationship, or you don’t.

See, this is where I think real, true, honest love comes in.  I think love is made…built…formed and cultivated.  I think that it takes shared experiences, emotional give-and-take (both good and bad), trials, life lessons…I think it takes time.  It is easy to fall in love…but real love is a different animal entirely, and one that grows but slowly.

Real love, to me, is when you look over at the person next to you…you know that they have done things to hurt you…you know that you have done things to hurt them.  You know, and do not forget, all the harsh, angry, unkind, hurtful words that have been exchanged.  You remember the frustrations and disappointments.  You remember the days when it was almost over…or even when it was over.  You remember the nights when you couldn’t stand to be next to them, or they couldn’t stand to be next to you.  You remember the coldnesses and the indifference.

You remember all this…and yet still, somehow, you feel that connection, that fundamental and unbreakable bond.  There is a current that runs between you, beginning somewhere in the dermal layer of the skin, that is almost like magnetism in its power and sensation.  When your hand is close to their skin, you can feel that force between you thrumming and drawing you closer.  You can look in their eyes and know their soul – maybe you don’t agree with it all, maybe you don’t even like it all, but you know it.  You know them, on a level that is indescribable and breathtaking.  And you know them not because you have spent a few weeks together and talked on the phone a lot, or even because you have gotten married and lived together for a few months – but because of so much time and so many shared experiences that your lives have truly meshed, and with them your souls.

It sounds so clichéd to say  they are “a part of you” – but it is nearly true.  You fit together, but not like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.   Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, you are so intertwined that it is more like a metal alloy – so intermingled that you could not possibly extricate one without irreparably damaging the other.  You aren’t glued together, you are collated.  Yes, you are still two separate people, but there are so many connections and ties that if you took one away, the other would not exist in the same form.

We wonder why, when love (real love) dies, it is so hard for us to survive.  We feel that we do not know ourselves any more, that our lives have been changed and damaged and possibly even destroyed.  This is why.  It’s like removing malignant cancer – you can’t get all the growth, without damaging the healthy tissue.  Sometimes that tissue can heal, and I think love is like that – there is a lot of damage from excising that love, and it takes a long, long time, but it can eventually heal.  It will not have the same form as it did before, though.  There will be holes and ragged edges and scar tissue.

I believe this is one reason that it is so hard, when we really and truly have loved, to leave.  We know that even though the relationship may have deteriorated to an irreparable state, leaving that person and trying to excise that love is going to tear us apart in ways that will be so hard to heal.  We know that we are tearing away parts of ourselves that will not come away from them, leaving those parts behind – and taking with us some parts of them, likewise. 

That is painful.  It’s unavoidable that it should be painful.  We’re not tearing our bodies, but our souls, and they don’t make Lortab for the soul.   There’s no pain reliever, and the ones we try are usually ineffective, harmful, or both.  Time is the only healer, and it is a harsh and pitiless one.

Love doesn’t always grow like this.  Many, many times a couple will fall in love, marry, spend years together, and never truly mesh.  They maintain their separateness  and continue to be only themselves, with no true intermingling of the souls.  And when they split, it hurts, but no more than it hurt to break up with a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend.  They get over it, they move on.  And that’s great for them.  And no doubt they really cared about one another – but I don’t think that’s love.  Call me whatever you want, I don’t care (you don’t have to read this, after all), but that’s my opinion. 

True love is when, no matter how angry you are, you would rather die than hurt that person, because it really and truly hurts you to hurt them.  Not when you think that, but when it is true in your soul.

True love is when you are angry but you make excuses to your friends and family anyway, because you can’t stand for your love to be denigrated.

True love is when their touch, and only their touch, really and truly makes it all better.

True love is when you can feel them enter a room, even though you didn’t see or hear them.

True love is when they matter more than you do.

True love is when you know you should leave, but you can’t.

True love is when they hurt you, and you know they shouldn’t have, but you can’t help finding a reason why it’s your own fault, because.   Just because.

True love is overrated.  It is dangerous.  It is incredibly powerful and if you let it, it can destroy you, because you won’t walk away from it no matter what.

True love can be incredibly beautiful, and incredibly painful, and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. 

It can make you wish you were dead – but it can make life worth living when nothing else does.

If you have it…you know what I’m talking about.  If you don’t, but think that what you have IS true love, you are pissed off at me right now.   Which is fine.

If you don’t have it – refuse to settle for less.  Go build it.  But please be careful.  If the person you are with is inconsiderate, selfish, or downright mean, get out.  Don’t let it become true love.  Don’t let it grow – because it will only get worse, and you will never walk away.  Or you won’t walk away until serious damage has been done, be it physical or emotional.  So make sure you are letting it grow with someone you can really and truly trust.

If you do have it, and it’s good – thank God for it, and watch your back.