It took me 15 years of failed relationships to finally feel secure in saying the words, “I love you.”
My insecurity has never stemmed from the possibility of not hearing those words back or in feeling that an individual does or doesn’t deserve these words. Instead, my insecurity has always stemmed from whether or not I’ve actually felt “in love” when I’ve spoken those words.
I have a tendency to measure love as if it is a timeline.
So many times, with past lovers, I measured our love on the number of milestones we had surpassed and the rate at which we were moving. What a stressful and unromantic way to count your love, right? Does my bond to another truly sway if we live together at three months as opposed to a year? Does my love falter if I fall on hard times, and breadwinner is no longer part of my title? Will my partner feel my love radiating less if marriage isn’t even discussed, let alone being planned?
These types of questions can fill our minds to the point that we leave little room for our love to grow and flourish. No room for spontaneity, personalization, or human error. Hell, it leaves little room for our love to even begin to seed or string the roots from which our love springs forth and is anchored to.
Only days ago, I came to the realization that I do not think I have ever been in love before.
I have loved others. I have pined for others. I have cared about and wanted the best for others. I have felt that I can’t live without others. I have experienced passion and romance in waves similar to a tsunami. But I do not think I have ever been in love.
What does being in love feel like then, in comparison to those other things?
If all these past lovers and all the emotions that came with them were not true love, what is it?
It is waking up first thing in the morning without the instant anxiety of:
What do I need to do today to keep this person loving me?
What did I do that is making them act differently, speak shortly, or not caress my back the same way they did last week?
True love is not the absence of insecurity; that’s a foolish expectation. True love is the overbearing feelings of insecurity being treated like a wound by the one who didn’t cause it.
True love is never having an agenda, only having the moment.
True love is uncomfortable talks held in uncomfortable situations that end with a kiss because it breeds growth, warmth, and understanding.
We all know the cliché story that there are only three loves in your entire life and that you learn something from them all. I used to believe this wholeheartedly. I believed that after my last train wreck of a codependent relationship I would find the love I had been waiting for. The next romance I’d enter would be my third and final love, I thought.
The latter was correct, the rest up for much discussion.
This burning fire of new love began just a few months before the world as we knew it went into lockdown. My partner and I made the choice to move in together after only having dated for three months. But being a lesbian couple, I guess this is neither as frowned upon (cue stereotype alert) nor as surprising.
We lived in a 400-square-foot apartment during the said lockdown. Milestones didn’t matter anymore because “normal” redefined itself in a three month period. Normal was thrown out the window when survival took a front-seat ride on this road trip of chaos. I no longer measure my relationship in milestones and markers. I measure it by moments. This moment. The present moment. The only moment that matters.
In this exact moment of time, I get to be anxious, moody, overwhelmed, uncomfortable, petty, and passionate to a fault. I never have to fear judgment when I am not my best self. My flaws are not placed under a microscope and dissected into easily swallowed realities. My flaws are cuddled and touched tenderly so as not to break me.
Have you ever—and dig deep when I ask this—felt so comfortable with another human being that you do not wake up daily wondering what you need to do to keep them wanting you? To keep that spark or that passion? If your answer is yes, I envy you. I have never felt this before.
Not until her.
My childhood was less than warm, and I have spent my whole life subconsciously yearning for warmth and love, care, and compassion, from other human beings. Only recently did I begin the work to love myself and be that beacon of warmth, even when the world feels like Upstate New York in January. I still always wanted to find that person that makes “love easy,” but never knew what that could feel like.
Not until her.
She danced into my heart, so under the radar that I am still searching for that exact moment when I knew I couldn’t live without her. When I knew her love—our love—was the first time in 30 years that I can remember having felt actually “in love.”
But that exact moment doesn’t matter. What matters is that after all this life searching, in this exact and present moment, love finally found me.
And so I’ll leave you with that same, repeated question: have you ever felt so comfortable with another human being that you do not wake up daily wondering what you need to do to keep them wanting you?
If not, keep searching. It’ll come.