What Is True Love?
This question, I’ve been asking myself this one over the past year. Having been through a breakup, going on a handful of dates, and reading comfort novels from Meg Cabot, I do wonder if the feeling exists. There are couples that have broken up or stayed together, and there is no rigid formula.
Many couples who have broken up or divorced, who seemed like forever. Some are in my celebrity view, while others are acquaintances or relatives that I know peripherally. And as Valentine’s Day passes, I consider any preconceived notions of true love and if they still hold true.
What I Used To Believe
I used to think that true love meant finding someone with whom you could build a meaningful relationship. From the exciting to the mundane, like doing dishes or traveling, you would enjoy each others company.
Disney may have created some misconceptions about what love is. They set high expectations when the love interest swims to a burning ship to save his dog and carries him to safety, or when the hero faces a shapeshifting sorcerer to fix some costly mistakes. Real life isn’t like that, sadly. The Disney Renaissance heroes and their love interests talked or communicated, about the hard stuff like wanting a better life, or what it means to be alone. While Ariel never had those serious conversations with Eric onscreen, his actions showed his priorities consistently.
Not everyone is making a great sacrifice to ensure that someone they care about survives, and not all sacrifices in life will be appreciated. In fact, when you are raised to believe that giving up your time and effort is a necessity, you may resent someone who takes that effort for granted and shoves it in your face during a fight.
True love may mean that you change together. That doesn’t just means wrinkles, grey hairs, and back pain. We also think differently and adapt priorities. When life goes on, you can accommodate how you both change, and that neither of you becomes a deal-breaker. We cannot control all of the future, or how it may change us, but we can decide who we want to be.
I wonder also if true love means that someone knows who you are before you do, and what you need. There is that nice idea that someone completes you, and can find out what you long for every day while clocking into work or driving. In some shows with healthy romantic relationships, like the one Diane finds in season six of BoJack Horseman, you need to know when to compromise, and when to hold your ground. Sometimes you have to be vulnerable, to express what you really need.
Of course, putting all that expectations on someone when you just meet them is unrealistic. Even on a date where you leave all the cards on the table, you don’t know who someone is or what they want out of a relationship necessarily. The first meeting may go great, but down the line you may see signs that are dealbreakers.
I’d like to think that love is someone laying down bricks with you, to build a house. One that can withstand wolves, while undergoing constant renovations. It doesn’t even have to be a standard Colonial one. But someone has to be willing to put down that brick with you, and vice-versa. You have to accept the renovations and repairs that come with that construction. Wolves may exist at the door, like family members who wonder why you’re still single.
Right now, true love is in the cards and a possibility, but it’s not a guarantee. All you can do is create space to put down that brick, and prepare to walk away when something doesn’t feel right.