An honorable human relationship - that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word ‘love’ - is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in so doing we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.
The secret of attraction is to love yourself. Attractive people judge neither themselves nor others. They are open to gestures of love. They think about love, and express their love in every action.
The weird thing about it is I’m not sure I ever loved you in the first place. I mean, yeah, I said it, but even I had trouble believing it was true. I’m not sure if you had the same suspicions.
I wondered if it was the autonomy bred into girls like me, taught not to be enamored with boys but with books. Maybe I am just one of thousands of would-be romantic young women whose hearts are fluttering around not like butterflies but fading embers, convincing themselves that this feeling couldn’t possibly be the thing that the movies say it is.
But the hurt made me wonder if it had been real. I told myself that pain is not the same thing as love, even when it lasted for years, but that’s all natural selection too. Who here would do anything for someone who has hurt them? If you are raising your hand, you are human. And we are a dying breed.
And this is the thing I always worried about. I loved you (maybe) not because you loved me back but because I admired you. I knew it wouldn’t last forever but I told myself that if the movies were right then I had made in investment in someone spectacular. Emotions are more important to economics most men would like to admit.
And once I noticed, I couldn’t stop starting at the pictures of you doing the things you loved. The things I loved watching you do. You had become everything that I knew you would be. I wonder if you knew you would too. I wonder if you knew that I was (maybe) never really in love with you?
These are the pages we ripped out of the love story. The bathroom blow jobs and the time you didn’t call. These are the things we’d rather not remember. The ones that we place on the edges of our lives so that when we apply the vignette they will all but disappear. This is toilet paper on my knees. This is zero missed calls. These are the times when dinner was shitty and expensive and we went to see a movie that I didn’t even want to see and got popcorn stuck in my throat. These are the times when the sex was not all that good.
Love presents itself in dirty things like this. The things we’d rather not remember. In preemptive awkward moments and drunk kisses and not wanting to be rude so okay I guess we can get lunch. The things that are not altogether pleasant, like popcorn kernels lodged in your esophagus or fake orgasms. Only once or maybe twice in a lifetime are we allowed a romance that starts off starry and squeaky clean. With love at first sight and not touch.
Isn’t this the place we always find love? In the only muddy puddle on the whole damn street that happened to have something shiny in it so we picked it up because we thought it might be rare.
It’s not love’s existence that makes it special, it’s the fact that it can expire. Like life, love is a lot of hormones and a stroke of luck. That’s why you tend to hang onto it: because you were so lucky to have that experience in the first place. And also like life, you hold the power in deciding how long you’d like to be a part of love.
If you decide it is time to let love go, you might worry that it will never reincarnate. That this was your one and only chance and you have wasted it. And, of course, when you allow love to pass away, you must be aware of the ways it will hurt. The familiar urges you cannot fulfill. The connections that no longer exist. The words you want to say but can no longer speak to the person who you’d like to hear them most. There’s no getting around it: these things cause pain.
But know this, because I want you to feel it more than the pain: more investment in your own wellbeing will drive good love towards you again. Take care of yourself first. People who say that love is selfless forget that it is a selfish to disregard your own needs for another’s.
Please don’t let this fickle thing leave you eternally unsatisfied.
Immature people falling in love destroy each other’s freedom, create a bondage, make a prison. Mature persons in love help each other to be free; they help each other to destroy all sorts of bondages. And when love flows with freedom there is beauty. When love flows with dependence there is ugliness.
A mature person does not fall in love, he or she rises in love. Only immature people fall; they stumble and fall down in love. Somehow they were managing and standing. Now they cannot manage and they cannot stand. They were always ready to fall on the ground and to creep. They don’t have the backbone, the spine; they don’t have the integrity to stand alone.
A mature person has the integrity to stand alone. And when a mature person gives love, he or she gives without any strings attached to it. When two mature persons are in love, one of the great paradoxes of life happens, one of the most beautiful phenomena: they are together and yet tremendously alone. They are together so much that they are almost one. Two mature persons in love help each other to become more free. There is no politics involved, no diplomacy, no effort to dominate. Only freedom and love.
Preach! EDIT: on a re-read, the second paragraph is a harsh overstatement. But I love the emphasis on autonomy within a genuine loving relationship.
Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.