I have some bad news: love is not what we believe it to be.
It isn’t lust and romance, and there isn’t one person or soulmate who will forever fill our hearts with joy and contentment. There is no such thing as a happy ending and there are no princes—or at least, not in the Disney princess kind of way.
That’s the bad news.
But here’s the good news: love is real.
It is beautiful and complex. It is a journey, and not a destination. And it is out there if you are willing to look in the most unlikely of places—inside your own heart.
I have been on this ride on Earth for 43 years now. I’ve laughed and cried over love, and I’ve been completely head-over-heels more than once. I’ve learned more than a little about love, and about myself. Here are a few truths I’ve picked up along the way:
1) There is no such thing as a single soulmate. We are each on a path, and along that path, we meet many people who enrich our lives and can walk with us. Sometimes those people walk with us for a lifetime; other times they are only with us for a period of days, months, or years. The beauty in it is that each one of those people has something to teach us about life and about ourselves. Even the biggest heartbreaks are opportunities to learn about who we are, or who we are not.
2) There is someone out there who is right for us, right now. No matter where we are in our growth, we will attract what we believe we are worthy of. When we finally realize that we are whole, just as we are, and start living that truth, we will attract a beautiful, loving relationship that will support that belief and truth. Hurt people hurt people, and whole people attract people who support and embrace that level of healthiness.
3) Love is not conditional. Every one of us is loveable. If we feel like we need to change in order to be loved, we are with the wrong person. And if we feel like we need to change who we are with in order to love them more, we need to take a look at our own motivations and our own broken pieces. Who we attract is a reflection of our self-perception. Love you first, and the rest will come.
4) We can love many people. Love isn’t something we run out of when we give too much away. Love feeds on love. The more we give away, the more we have. While we should be discriminate about who we share our most intimate moments with, who we love is unlimited. We can love lots of people, men and women of all ages, for lots of reasons, and it’s okay to tell people how much we love them. Frequently.
5) It’s not always about you. If you are honest, loyal, kind, and compassionate to someone you love and they break your heart, it doesn’t mean you are broken. More often than not, it means they weren’t ready to be vulnerable in the way you made them want to be, or they didn’t believe they were as lovable as you made them feel. Each one of us has wounds that need to be healed. Not everyone is ready for the healing to begin.
6) Pain is not permanent. When we are hurt, that pain is not “ours” to claim. Instead, it is something that we need to acknowledge and allow to pass through us. We won’t always be in pain, but recognizing that it is creating a wound that we have the ability to acknowledge and heal is key to our ability to move on.
7) We are only capable of giving what we are able to give away. Until we love ourselves, we are not able to give unconditional love to another person. That’s okay, though. Along the way, there will be people who help us grow and help us to become what we are capable of being. Not every love story lasts forever. The universe has a way of presenting us with the lessons we need to move on. We just need to decide to be willing to learn from them.
8) There is always personal responsibility to accept. It doesn’t matter if an ex cheated, treated us badly, or was otherwise a complete douchebag to us. The truth is, we attracted that person into our lives, and until we recognize and accept responsibility for why that happened, we won’t grow. It is never completely about us, but it is never completely about the other person, either. We attract who we are ready to attract, and we believe we are worthy of what we get. Until we realize that we are worthy of something better, we won’t receive that.
9) Falling in love with yourself is the key to love. Once you love yourself, you can fully and completely love others. You never feel insecure or wonder where you stand because you know you are enough. And you are enough, not in a cocky, egotistical way—but you are a beautiful creation, just as you are.
No matter where you are in your journey, know that the relationships you nurture are the ones that support who you are and who you decide you want to be. If you believe you are where you want to be, healthy or not, you will attract people who support you in that. There are billions of souls on this planet and you are never alone. You give what you are capable of giving, and the more you have to give, the more you will receive.
Never sell yourself short waiting for the one. Recognize you are the one, and the rest will come. That longing for someone else is really a longing to connect with yourself, and once you do that, the world has a way of falling into place around you.
Author: Amanda Christmann
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Amy Zirkle/Flickr