We all have our “roles” within our circles of friends. The “Smart one,” for instance, or “Fitness expert”, “Fashionista,”–etc. Mine happens to be the “Love Expert.” My friends call/text/email me in moments of dating crisis; and I am single-handedly responsible for the fact that my sister and my brother-in-law met and married (I guess they also loved each other–yeah yeah). Still, my dating and relationship history is hardly perfect; nonetheless, those trial-and-errors have taught me a great deal about love. Here are the most important things I learned about love.
1. Love can come at any moment: you don’t have to be “ready for love,” “at the right point in your life,” etc. Sure, it helps if you have the desire to be in a relationship, and put yourself out there looking like your gorgeous self. But if it’s meant to happen, you could be in the “bad timing” phase of your life (between jobs, living with parents, about to move to another country, just broke up) and still meet the love of your life.
2. Conversely, there is no such thing as “bad timing,” only not the right person: If someone tells you s/he really likes you, but this just isn’t the right time/I’m busy with my job/I’m not looking for a serious relationship, just move on. This person isn’t ready for you, period.
3. Don’t confuse infatuation with love: Everyone should feel the pang of infatuation at least a few times in their lives. It feels like the most pleasant form of addiction (and indeed, your brain is reacting much the same way as to drugs). You think about that person night and day; every time your phone vibrates your heart drops, thinking it’s a text from X; you bore your friends by talking about this person nonstop. Because this makes us feel alive, we confuse it with love and think it’s valuable. But infatuation is the reaction to a stimulus. It thrives on novelty, on “Otherness”–whereas love is exactly the opposite, the cherishing of “Togetherness.”
4. You deserve better: When you’re lonely, you might think–“who’s going to love me?” Or if you are infatuated with someone, you might think that person will change for you, or that you can help that person become better. But your love is wasted on someone who can’t recognize and cherish it. Hold out until you meet someone you truly deserve–which means nothing less than attention, tenderness, respect, thoughtfulness, and attraction. Everyone has a person out there who will love them this way.
5. When you do meet the right person, don’t be afraid to give yourself up: This doesn’t mean you can’t be an independent soul with dreams, desires, and mystery of your own. But you don’t lose anything by opening up yourself to someone. When I first met my boyfriend, we were walking around on a Saturday morning on Lower East Side. We passed by some couples having a nice alfresco brunch at a cute cafe, and I said, “Can you imagine those people spent the night and are now eating breakfast together?” For the record, I was all of 22. But the point is, I had a whole lot to gain from overcoming the fear of losing my independence.
6.Cherish the love that you have: Recently I met with an older, successful single woman in her forties. Though she didn’t have any regrets about her unmarried, child-less life, she did wish she had had a different attitude toward men when she was younger: namely that you shouldn’t be afraid of settling with one person. Settling down with one person isn’t playing it safe–if anything, it shows such courage to devote yourself wholeheartedly to one other person. (Tweet this): Don’t lose the love you have for the love you think you want.
7. Work on your love: When the dust has settled, and you’re no longer madly infatuated with one another like a couple of teenagers, relationships can get far more interesting–or boring, depending on how you approach it. Have something special that you bond over, just the two of you. Don’t give up when you run into a difficulty, just take a deep breath and remember what you love about him/her. Even if you don’t feel like it, try to apologize as much as you humanly can. It’s not about losing or winning. It’s okay if you feel momentarily angry, but there shouldn’t be any room for pride in your relationship.
8. Cherish the snapshots of your love: Love, like life itself, won’t be remembered as one continuous film, but snapshots of everyday happinesses, blissful milestones, and the occasional storms. Don’t forget about the lovely snapshots of your relationship, because that is what you will be left with, and what will sustain your relationship in difficult times.
9. No one is perfect–look for “perfect for you”: “Perfect for you” means similar philosophical outlook and value systems; common understanding of the world; a sustainable level of attraction; and “caring” feelings that run deeper than any friendship. It does not include perfect body, hair, genius intelligence, money and high-paying job, etc.
10. Listen to your family and friends: If people you love say that you deserve better than that, they are right. On the other hand, if your friends and family are supportive and encouraging, and think you guys are made for each other–they’re probably right.
Also in Love: 12 Signs You’ve Found the One – Vegan Edition
Photo: ginnerobot via Flickr