I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the advice I often give to other people who are looking for love.
I’m at the age where my newsfeed is full of what seems to be love: engagements, marriages, babies, oh my!
It has taken me a long time to fully understand that love comes in all shapes and sizes, and no form of love is inherently superior to another.
A long-term relationship that is forged on trust, loyalty, and selfless love is in no way inferior to a public act like engagement and marriage.
Similarly, having babies is great! But so is having dogs, or cats, or whatever you love to come home to at the end of the day.
And being single and truly loving yourself by taking the time to learn all of the incredible qualities about yourself and why you are unique and loved by those around you is wonderful too.
One of my favorite memories after a particularly heart-wrenching break up was when my mother and I went on a movie night date. It was in December, and we had taken my “new” used car, which had heated seats but no heat. Stubborn as I was, I was going to sit on my hands rather than pay the $200 needed to fix it. (I was in college! Where was I going to get that money?!)
As we raced to my car after watching a heart-warming chick flick and hopped inside, I cranked the defrosters…which were not effective, quite obviously. In fact, upon further inspection we found that the ice had formed ON THE INSIDE of my windshield.
For some reason we started laughing so incredibly hard as we used our little, dinky ice scraper to clear the windshield, little by little, and small piles of snow formed on my dashboard. We laughed so hard, in fact, that tears started running and we laughed until we couldn’t breathe!
And I remember so vividly that in that moment, I was the happiest person alive. Sure, my long-term boyfriend had lied and broken my heart one too many times, and sure, changing the life plans you had carefully laid out at 19 was terrifying.
But my mother loved me. She loved spending time with me. She valued my opinions and she thought that I was hilarious.
And that was the first time in a long time that I started believing these things about myself.
And even after all of this, I sometimes forget that love, in all forms, is necessary and acceptable and equal to the love you find yourself envying.
And let’s get real about this envy: what is it founded on? You will always find people want what they don’t have.
When I first started writing this, I found myself writing statements that said, “Find yourself someone who does this or is like this“. But as I kept writing, I felt it all change. My experience of love is not your experience of love, and vice versa. What I find to be the understated daily sacrifices that you make when you live with someone you’ve decided to love may not be your experiences.
And that’s the way it should be.
So let me rephrase. This is what I have. And it’s different from what you have, but since I’m trying to learn the power of Words of Affirmation, I wanted to share with you my experience, because sometimes love is great that it is meant to be shared.
I’ve got someone who I still get excited to see at the end of a long day, over three years later. He’s the person I text immediately when something interesting pops up in my day, despite the fact that he’s outrageously busy at work and I will see him in less than nine hours.
I’ve got someone who will stop to grab a bottle of wine on the way home to apologize for another late night at work. Also, he is known to do this with flowers, Mike and Ikes, and sometimes, if I’m lucky, lost and found items from work. He fondly calls this “Christmas”.
I’ve got someone who still fights me to wash the dishes. A few days ago he mentioned he only finished half the dishes before he ran to work, and was so excited to get home before I did because he wanted to finish them all. He’s my partner and shares in the not-so-fun things we adults have to do.
I’ve got someone who allowed me to adopt one, two, three dogs, and never once blamed me for the chaos that ensued. I mean, really, this poor guy most likely thought we’d stop after the first one. But here we are, three years and three dogs. And even when #3 single-handedly destroyed literally only his things, he never once pointed the finger in blame.
(That meme that keeps getting passed around about #relationshipgoals because this couple gets a dog every year they’re together is tragic and misleading and will end in divorce.)
I’ve got someone that never complains when I try to help do the yard work, but instead end up breaking the tools. Seriously. I am a complete hazard when it comes to being helpful with tools. Poor guy let me cut the lawn and I broke the blade on the lawn mower after the first try. And he not only replaced it but made me feel better by saying he was surprised it hadn’t happened to him first! And yet I freak out when he loses the measuring cup to the laundry detergent…
I’ve got someone who gets more excited about my good news than I do. Even when his career is rapidly progressing forward, he takes time to celebrate mine in unique ways. He reasons through decisions with me, and handles my frustrations and complaints with sincere interest
I’ve got someone that simply puts my needs before his.
I don’t know if it’s because he’s Midwestern, or if he was raised by the best people on earth, or if it’s just who he is, (that’s absolutely what it is) but what I’ve got right now is the best human on earth for putting up with this forever-hangry, Jersey girl.
If you’re single, in a relationship, married or more, please remember this: never take for granted the love that you receive. And in turn, be a source of love despite how it will benefit you.
Call your grandmother and ask her to tell you the secret to her famous recipe. Trade in your typical dinner date for a night where you learn to do something your significant other loves to do. Change the baby’s diaper before your wife asks you to.
In a world filled with adversity, envy and discord, fill it any way you can, in love.