Forever isn’t an illusion, but believing that it will always be easy is.
When it comes to love, it seems that everything is impermanent except our cynicism. We barter and trade expectations and become distracted by beauty—and in the end, we wonder why all we leave in our wake are broken relationships and needs that remained unfulfilled.
Yet, a large part of this is not simply being in the place to fall in love, as a healthy and conscious individual—but also learning what love truly is.
We’ve come so far from the smothered and enclosed relationship days of previous generations, when love and sharing our lives meant only one option: a traditional marriage. However, love isn’t necessary for marriage, and marriage isn’t necessary for love.
Love is not only a choice; love is an action. Love is not dates or gifts. Love is not the best Instagram pictures or the cutest hashtags. Love is not stalking the page of other females (or males) who like or comment on our partner’s social media. Love is not sex; love is not conforming or guilt-ridden. Love isn’t pressure or a trophy—and perhaps, most of all, love is never an end result, but a journey.
We’ve been sold a false image of love, so it’s no wonder our relationships fall apart—marriages included. It’s no wonder people are in divorce court before the ink has even dried on their marriage license, and it’s not a surprise that it seems the cure for this is open relationships in which we can be physically or emotionally intimate with anyone we find interesting.
It’s easy to think the source of fulfillment lies within the bed of someone new—but the reality is that the person we truly end up cheating is ourselves.
To fall in love and have it last forever—we must begin with our self. We don’t have to be the image of perfect, but we do have to be aware. This means that not only are we cognizant of our triggers within a relationship, but we’re also mindful of the areas that have been like quicksand in the past—so that moving forward, we might be able to make different choices.
To fall in love and have it last forever, we have to understand that love is something more than just a tickling feeling in our hearts; it’s the choice to grow together with another individual. It’s the action sincerely trying to not only be our best, but also making the commitment to encourage our partner to do the same. It’s the knowledge that not every day will be easy, but that doesn’t mean each day isn’t worth it.
Only once we’ve become tired of doing things the way we have been will we be in a place to change. This typically occurs either because we’re tired of the same old dating story line—or because, quite honestly, we’re tired of ourselves. The option to change how we approach love and relationships is always available; forever is something we all have at our disposal, we just have to make the choice to harness it.
Once we have gotten ourselves straight when it comes to our triggers, wounds, and needs, we then have clearer eyes when it comes to the person who can fit into all of our corners. The thing that is so important about knowing ourselves is that until we do, we will continue to choose partners who, in one way or another, are not necessarily a good fit, but whose purpose is actually to eventually end so that we can absorb the necessary lessons.
Not only do we find out what love really is by learning what it isn’t first—we also learn who we really are by seeing who we aren’t. Relationships are a vehicle for self-growth, but they also are a mirror—not only for who we are currently, but for who we want to be.
To fall in love and have it last forever means that we are looking for someone who challenges us just enough that we’re inspired to grow into the person they see each time they meet our eyes. This isn’t the same as wanting our partner to change, but rather inspiring them to become a better person—not for us, but for themselves.
In order to achieve forever, we need to look for more in a partner—more than what’s easy, more than looks, and more than someone who looks good on paper—because when we are down, lost our job, or are up in the middle of the night with a colicky baby, good on paper isn’t going to cut it.
We need to find someone willing to get down and dirty with life—someone who knows that we’ll mess up, but who also knows that it’s not our darkness that defines us: it’s our light. It’s about choosing a partner based on what you can build together and being committed to that, despite any obstacle.
But perhaps more than any of that, it’s the conscious choice of choosing them every single day. It’s about choosing them when we’re dressed up in our finest on our wedding day, and it’s about choosing them in sweatpants and a t-shirt when they’re sick. It’s about choosing them when they are lighting up the room in front of us and when they are crying from a place of darkness and fear.
It’s about choosing someone when they make it easy, but even more so when it seems impossible. It’s choosing them when we’re laughing on vacation and when we’re fighting on a Tuesday night. It’s making a conscious choice to not only choose them every day, but to know that regardless of how difficult it may get at times, life is exponentially better with them by our side.
Forever is not accidental.
Because when we have found this person, this love—then the only thing left to do is protect it and nurture it, so that it can grow even stronger. We have to protect our relationship just as we would anything that is special or sacred to us. We have to keep the opinions and expectations of others out, and we have to devote time to each other—even in the midst of our crazy lives. We must continually make the choice to unconditionally love them, despite whatever may occur.
Love is easy, but forever isn’t. Yet, just like anything, if we want it badly enough, we will work for it—especially for the person who we know will work just as hard for us.
Author: Kate Rose
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Catherine Monkman