I’m that person who believes in love.
I believe in happily ever after. I love fairy tales. I’m a sucker for a good romance novel. And don’t get me started on the Hallmark Channel. I could watch Hallmark movies around the clock all winter long.
I love everything about love.
I will soak up every love cliché you can dish out.
“Love makes the world go round.”
“Love will set you free.”
“Love is all you need.”
Despite all of that, I can tell you I have honestly never experienced real love in any of my romantic relationships. I mean pure, honest to goodness, mutual love. I’m talking full and complete love.
What is love?
Love is defined as a set of emotions and behaviors characterized by intimacy, passion, and commitment. It involves care, closeness, protectiveness, attraction, affection, and trust.
Yup, I’ve never experienced that with anyone.
I have been madly in love, but the feeling wasn’t reciprocated.
I have been the object of someone’s desires, but I didn’t feel the same way.
Maybe I had a misconception of what love was. I had core concepts of what love should look like, but maybe they were unrealistic.
I had to dig deep to begin to understand where my concepts came from to see if they had any merit.
I remember being a young girl. I had three siblings. We lived in a little house in the city with my mother—the most beautiful woman with blonde hair I have ever seen. She looked like an angel. And my father—handsome and funny. I remember how my parents interacted with each other.
They looked truly happy through my young eyes. My father worked all day and was home for dinner every night. He would play with us while my mother made dinner in the kitchen. My mother was home with us during the day. She kept herself busy cooking, cleaning, painting the house, shopping, and caring for us.
I felt completely happy.
Until one day, I woke up and my world came crumbling down around me when I heard my parents fighting. I thought that most definitely was not love.
Concept Number One: Protectiveness.
When I entered the dating world as a young teenager, I met some really sweet boys. I was boy crazy and attracted to nice boys—looks didn’t matter so much as long as they were nice. We were young and didn’t know what we were doing.
Dating consisted of holding hands and the occasional date at the movies or roller skating rink.
Concept Number Two: Affection, Respect, and Attraction.
As a young woman in my 20s, I dated bad boys who showed me wild nights. I dated sensitive men who opened my eyes to vulnerability. I dated nice men who were gentle, sweet, and kind.
Concept Number Three: Intimacy, Passion, and Commitment.
My close friends entered married life. I was obsessed with their relationships. I’d watch their interactions to see if they had found true love.
I wanted to know if they also had misconceptions of what love looked like. I wanted to know if they settled for what they could get.
I discovered they didn’t settle. They actually got it right. This was not only confirmed verbally, but I could see the way each husband looked and interacted with his wife. You can’t make that up—it was all over each of their handsome faces. That was love. There is something sexy about a devoted husband and father. You can actually see the love in his eyes.
Concept Number Four: Care, closeness, and trust.
My core concepts were not outrageous. I wanted and deserved love. I wanted and deserved intimacy, passion, and commitment. I wanted someone to provide me with care, closeness, protectiveness, attraction, affection, and trust.
Regardless of my concepts, I knew true love was out there.
Maybe I didn’t understand what a romantic relationship was supposed to look or feel like. I just knew in my gut that whatever I was in never felt like real love.
I didn’t expect movie-type love. I didn’t even expect a love song kind of love. I believe love comes in different shapes and sizes. Not every love story is the same, and nor do I expect romance to be neat and arranged in a certain way.
I don’t have expectations. I anticipate fights and arguments. I foresee differences of opinion. I assume we will get on each other’s nerves. I imagine it will get hard, really hard at times.
But at the end of the day, there has to be mutual love and respect for each other. There has to be that special something by both parties to make it work through the good and bad times.
Love is out there.
Always stick with your core concepts.
Keep your heart open.
Believe in love.
I still believe in love. I always will.