“We accept the love we think we deserve.” ~ Stephen Chbosky
Some people say we only fall in love once.
I think we fall in love more than once, but every love is unique.
Despite the differences in our love stories, I’ve come to notice they fit in either of two categories.
I can’t help but believe that throughout our lifetime, we meet a partner (the rational kind of love) and a lover (the irrational one).
And lucky for us, it doesn’t happen only once. We will meet partners and lovers many times before we settle. We will keep on meeting them until they serve their purpose.
When we meet a partner, everything feels right. The fact is, everything is right. Meeting them doesn’t feel like finding our other half. Meeting them feels like getting in touch with that one true love who makes us feel complete.
We build a partnership with our romantic mates. With a partner, we agree to disagree no matter how different our opinions or beliefs are. We agree to cut the cardboard of our jigsaw puzzles and assemble the pieces the way we want to.
With a partner, the word “soulmate” starts to make sense. We understand its deeper meaning, and for once, we understand what love is. We fathom what it feels like to want to open our eyes to the same face at every dawn and smell our morning coffee only with them.
We know the reasons why we love a partner. Although we can’t put into words our state of being when we’re with them, we can undoubtedly delineate the reasons for our ecstasy.
Not only do they help us comprehend the realm of love, but also our own self-love. Through them, our relationship with ourselves becomes fiercer. It feels like we have found ourselves and we start seeing our inner being in a different light.
A partner shows us every good aspect of life. It feels as if we were born just to meet them and love them. It doesn’t matter if things go wrong—they would still find ways to cut holes for the light to enter when we’re stuck in darkness.
Everything said, felt or shared with a partner is too impeccable to be labeled. Everything seems to be experienced with awareness—even the love making, the fights and the discussions.
We stay with a partner because it feels right.
The beauty of meeting a partner is the ability to live with them and without them, for they transcend the meaning of love. Our love toward them rises above neediness and selfishness. Their happiness is as important as ours, even if it means seeing them with someone else.
With a lover, it’s the complete opposite. This kind of love is the passionate, unreasonable, against all odds kind of love. Relationships with lovers are sometimes destructive and unhealthy, and escaping them is challenging.
Staying with a lover feels like being stuck in a loop. We try to escape the loop—although we don’t want to—but we constantly fail to find the exit.
The reason is we get attached to lovers. While partners make us feel complete, lovers make us feel as if we’re halves and the possibility of living without our other half is enough to drive us mad.
They show us our darkest sides, expose us to our wounds and provoke our egos. They hold the mirror for us while we’re wearing our ugliest and filthiest masks. And so, we behold the horrible bits of ourselves and lose who we are.
With a lover, everything feels wrong, yet we want it to feel right. Loving them feels like walking into a barren desert searching for water—we keep walking knowing we’ll remain thirsty.
Things are prone to go bad with lovers because of the many differences amongst each other—whether in characters, in lifestyles or beliefs. We don’t agree to disagree. The only thing upon which we agree is how we feel toward each other—which keeps us together but is never enough to build a long-lasting partnership.
Jealousy, anger and selfishness are emotions that we tend to feel with a lover. While love stories with partners are ruled by awareness, love stories with lovers are ruled by desires and temptation—the desire to possess them, to change them, to feel them, to keep them.
We stay with a lover because it feels wrong—and sometimes wrong feels good. If we lose them, we feel as if we have lost a major part of us. We might as well avoid meeting them again because seeing their face, or smelling them again could trigger our weakness in seconds.
The worst part about lovers is that we can’t live with them or without them. Our love for them is needy, selfish and inexpiable. We can never put into words what a lover provokes within our being since it travels beyond human logic.
Partners and lovers are both memorable and their presence is essential for the completion of our quest in learning about love and ourselves. The partner shows us love by being the right person for us, and the lover shows us love by being the wrong one. Through this opposition, we can define what love is.
They’re memorable because they show us fragments of ourselves we’ve never beheld before. The partner shows us our good side, while the lover shows us the bad one. Eventually, we construct ourselves thanks to their eyes.
We either stay with a partner or we stay with a lover. Or through them, we meet the person who is a perfect partner, except that we feel toward them the passion we feel for a lover.
In other words, partners and lovers prepare us for our true love.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Movie still
Editor: Caitlin Oriel