Why Finding the One is So Important

I built love up in my mind to be this insanely beautiful thing that nothing in the real world could ever live up to. I think real love is accepting another person, just as they are, with all their flaws, with the zit that randomly popped up on their face, even though they ate the last piece of pizza, even when they’re doing something that’s annoying. It’s the kind of thing that makes you feel warm and happy inside, even when it’s cold and rainy. It’s the kind of feeling that brings a smile to your face at the end of a long day. You get to go home to someone who just makes you happy. Someone who you love.

It isn’t going to mean that you get a present every day. It isn’t going to mean that you get to complain about your day endlessly and never listen to any of their boring stories, or complaints about their job. It definitely isn’t going to mean completely smooth sailing. Real love means some fighting. It means telling someone that you want to spend next Christmas with your family, not theirs, and hoping they’ll compromise with you.

But when you find someone who you love, it’s all going to fall into place. The world is going to seem a little less scary. You’re going to have someone to text when something funny happens, and you’re going to be able to trust that the person you love is going to put up with all the quirks that exist in you. I think the most loveable people in this world are perhaps the quirkiest. I know I myself possess a good number of goofy traits, and I think anyone who didn’t love me would find them odd. But my family taught me to embrace my imperfections, and so when I met new guys I forced myself not to conform to being the girlfriend that they wanted, and instead decided to be myself. It’s important. It’s important to be loved for you, and not be loved for who someone wants you to be. It’s important to always stay true to yourself. There will always be another person out there for you if the one you’re with isn’t making you happy.

I think the fear of being alone and not meeting someone else is one of the primary reasons people stay in unhappy relationships. I know every time I’ve hesitated to break up with someone who made me unhappy it was primarily because the person I was with was okay, and being in a mediocre relationship had to be better than being all alone and having no one to share my time with. Sometimes, especially when you’re in your twenties, it seems like everybody you know is paired up, and you don’t want to be the only single one. How much does it suck getting asked to go to an event with a bunch of couples and trying to find a date? No one wants to be a third wheel.  But I think it’s time we face our fears and accept that being alone is much happier than being part of an unhappy or only moderately happy couple. 

Being alone means taking a book to the coffee shop instead of your boyfriend. It means reading or people-watching when you’re out in the world. It means watching your favorite show or movie on Netflix tonight instead of trying to find one that you both like (which, in an unhappy relationship, is usually a difficult task).  It means traveling to the places you want to see, instead of traveling to the places they want. It means spending holidays with your family  completely, instead of splitting the special times with their family, then running off to have the rest of the day with yours.

I’m someone who’s happy with my relationship, and I can still say all this stuff. I’ve been there. I’ve been in that place for a long, long time, and I was so scared to be alone that I didn’t escape from my own cage until I had already been in the single mindset for a long time. In the end, I missed out on some really great opportunities that I could have had as a single girl, that being in a long-term relationship took away from me.  I could have gone out with my friends on nights I instead spent fighting with my ex-boyfriend. I could have spent more time with my family. I could have simply spent the time on myself. I think spending time on yourself is one of the most commonly neglected but most important things a person needs to do.  I believe that spending time just doing things that make you happy are what makes the world bright. This life doesn’t go on forever. And in the end, you’ll remember the things you did that made you really happy over the things that were mundane.

There’s certainly no reason to be with someone who is “average.” Find the one who’s amazing. Don’t stop searching until you’ve met them. It’s hard to find them when you’re in your twenties. Like…really, really difficult. Everyone you know is either in a relationship or completely committed to the single life. The good guys are taken or boring. The hot guys aren’t nice, and the ones who are nice are definitely already taken. But keep looking. You’ll find them when you’re least expecting it.

Now, go!

Why Twenty-Somethings Don’t Actually Know What Love Means

Love is maybe one of the most complicated things we deal with in this world.  There’s no perfect definition, there’s no set of universal rules that governs how to love someone, and how to be loved by someone else. There’s no way to know when it’s real. There’s no code to tell you when someone is being honest with you.

I guess that’s what makes love love in the first place. If you love someone truly, without any reservations on your part or theirs, you will trust them just because you do. There will be little or no explanation for a lot of the things you feel for the person. There will be hardly any logic to your decisions. You won’t be able to stop yourself from doing all the things you want to do to get close to them. Nobody who isn’t in love with someone will be able to understand the things you’re feeling. 

I think our culture for a long time has been fascinated by a sense of falling in love at a young age, and leaving love there. The next love story is about the next generation, and by the time the original kids who fell in love are married and middle-aged, we’ve forgotten all about the magnificent romance they shared when they were just teenagers, or young adults.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with so many relationships nowadays. We can see ourselves happy with the person we’re with in six months, a year even, but when it comes to the long-term, everyone avoids the whole idea of staying as in love as they are when they meet. I understand that no love story is going to stay as intense or enormous as it is when the parties involved are just beginning to fall for one another. But a love should not be allowed to dwindle into small flames that only occasionally flare into a fire.  A love that is meant to last must be nourished.

If I were planning my long-term relationship, I would want only a few things from my partner. I would want honesty and fidelity (because I’m a human being, duh).  I would want the occasional surprise. It wouldn’t have to be an expensive necklace or a pair of tickets to Hawaii. I would want a note or a letter from the guy reminding me of the reasons he fell in love with me. Or maybe a flower, or my favorite candy, when he knows I’ve had a rough day. I would want to go to Disney World on a regular basis, because it’s absolutely one of my favorite places in the world, and I would need that in my life.  I would want to set aside an hour or 30 minutes every day just to decompress together. We could cook dinner together, watch an episode of a TV show, or just talk about our days. I would want my husband to keep me informed about his life. I would want to know all the stupid little details, from where he went to lunch to what boring things he did at work today. 

That’s how it’s supposed to be. You’re supposed to want to know those tiny details about another person when you’re in love. You’re supposed to be the person they want to tell those things to, because you’re the love of their life. You’re the one.

Don’t settle for something that doesn’t make you happy.

Why You Need to Take a Hard Look at Your Love Life

I could tell you a lot about my ex-boyfriend. I could tell you about how we met, why we broke it off, and what kind of people we both were. But all those things would not capture the very essence of my feelings towards our long, tumultuous relationship.

It was, undoubtedly, a tumultuous relationship. And what I’ve learned, more than anything else, when it comes to love, is that good relationships (healthy ones) shouldn’t be tumultuous. They shouldn’t be perfect, with no occasional bumps in the road. No, that kind of love is a love between two people who are so infatuated with one another that they’re terrified of making a misstep and upsetting the other person. A perfect, romantic love between two people involves joy, tolerance, communication, and compatibility between your personalities (I think).

Perhaps he and I were compatible, for a brief amount of time.

After we broke up, he sort of stalked me. He would call, text, show up, etc., crying over how sorry he was and telling me how terribly he felt for letting me go. And when that happened, I inevitably questioned whether I had made the right decision in breaking up with him.

But there were a million reasons I left him. I think the most important reason was that he made me miserable. He made me cry on a daily basis. He made me question his faithfulness by flirting with other women right in front of me, and texting other girls. He once kissed another girl while I was out of town. He was unkind to me, and would say mean things about me to his friends, which would usually come back to me, because his friends liked me.

And I know you’re probably questioning why I would waste my time on someone if all this was happening.  In all honesty, it’s because I didn’t see it then. It’s because I couldn’t see all the horrible things about him when I was with him. Even when he did terrible things, I believed that I was going to change him, and make him better, and that our relationship was going to be perfect as soon as he was just a little bit nicer.

But he was never going to be nicer. He was who he was, and no amount of time, energy, and commitment on my part was going to change that.  When we broke up, I was heartbroken. I had left him, but I still spent days, weeks, months crying over him and questioning my choice. What if, now that I had let him go from my life, he had magically transformed because he saw what life was without me? That kind of stuff happens in movies all the time.  The couple gets back together because whoever was the problem has completely transformed, and their relationship is ideal from then on out. I was repeatedly tempted to give him another chance.

Thank God I didn’t.

He will never be worthy of my time. He is still pulling the same bullshit on his current girlfriend that he pulled on me for three years, and I regret that it took me three years to see how bad of a person he was, but when we met I was very young, and completely inexperienced with men and with love.

The other woman that he kissed when he and I were together was an old acquaintance of mine. I wouldn’t call her a friend (because the only way I can describe our relationship was that she was always very unkind to me, and I just tried to ignore her), but it still broke my heart that he would cheat on me with someone that I knew. When I found out about his infidelity, it was because she wrote me a letter and gave it to me, apologizing. He didn’t even have the balls to own up to it, and when I confronted him about it immediately afterwards, he admitted that it had happened and shrugged it off as though it had been no big deal. He was a horrible person. He is a horrible person.

Anyhow, because I knew this other girl, we’re Facebook friends. The other day, she changed her profile picture and it came up on my news feed.  Right underneath it, it shows who has liked the photo, and the first person it listed was my ex-boyfriend. So then, two years after our relationship ended, and about five years since he and I had our first argument about whether he had feelings for her, he is still liking her photos on Facebook while seeing another woman.

I should have known when, immediately after breaking up with him, he went home and talked to her about how “sad” he was about losing me. She was the one who told me that also. I yelled and yelled and yelled, when I should have just accepted that he was a pain in my ass who wasn’t worth my time.

Every fight we had and every time we would break up, my heart would feel broken, unmendable, absolutely torn in half. And now, in all honesty, I am so so so so so so grateful for that pain. That pain was all that came of our relationship. There was no marriage, no children, no horrible proposal that forced me to pair up with this loser for the rest of my life. The heartbreak was a blessing. The heartbreak forced me to get the hell out. If he had not shown his true character to me then, I might still be with him now.

Instead, I get to be with someone who is kind. When he and I first met, I was still dating the jackass. He did not ever flirt with me. He did not ask me to break up with my boyfriend. He and I had probably spoken only one or two times when I dumped the loser. And when he and I broke up, I was devastated. I would lay in bed and cry and not be able to move for hours. He would sit with me, tell me everything was going to be okay, and just listen to me when I talked. He never tried to kiss me, or get too close. He just let me decide what I wanted to do, and I am eternally grateful to him for that.

People were surprised when my ex and I split, because they thought (honestly) that he and I always seemed super happy and perfect together. That is just a tribute to the fact that nothing is ever as it appears. Nothing is perfect. No guy is going to “fix” you. You have to love yourself. You have to love yourself enough to get out if a guy isn’t making you happy. You have to love yourself enough to decide to wait until you’re ready to do what guys will want you to do. You have to make your own choices about things because you just don’t know how long whatever guy you’re seeing will be in your life, and you owe it to yourself to do things your way while you’re young and still have the opportunity to ditch guys who suck, to date guys who may not be the one, and to go single when you feel like taking some time for yourself.

I wouldn’t trade my boyfriend now for anything. It almost broke me to find him, but here I am. He isn’t perfect. I am not perfect. Together, we are probably not even perfect. There might be someone out there who, if we took a compatibility test, would score higher than my boyfriend. That’s fine. I’m not looking for him. I hope he finds a nice girl. But calculations and numbers and tests cannot compare to that indescribable chemistry between two people who just love one another, who cherish each other’s company, and each other’s imperfections. I cannot ask for more from a man than what I have (except that I wish he wanted to go to Disney World as often as I do—only ten times a year, okay?). But I believe we can work through the arguments and disagreements to have our happily ever after.

He treats me nice. He rubs my shoulders and plays with my hair. He does not toy with other women with the sole purpose being to make me jealous. He laughs at my lame jokes. We say the same things at the same time on a daily basis. He makes Frozen references with me, because he knows that my obsession with Disney isn’t going anywhere soon. I tolerate his shows, because I love him, and I want to get to know as much as I can about him. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Don’t settle for something that doesn’t make you happy. It can be different than my happiness. But you know what it is, and I’m challenging you to go out there and grab it.

Why Being a Romantic is Hard On the Heart

Life is complicated and messy. There will be conflicts and confusing moments. I feel like real life is filled with people like myself and people like my boyfriend. I’m on one end of the spectrum. I try to make something out of everything. I look for signs. I pretend I’m starring in my own movie. I romanticize the little stuff. And he doesn’t. I think he believes in a much more functional type of love. Not the big romance and the movie moments, but the simple facts that a long-term relationship implies. Brushing your teeth because you had onions on your burger at dinner and you don’t wanna kiss until you feel confident about your breath.  Meeting in the library to study together, instead of jetting off to a bed and breakfast for the weekend. I don’t know. I think I have this unrealistic view of love that books and movies gave me growing up. I won’t apologize for it, because I love the way my mind looks at love. But sometimes I worry that I’m always going to be desiring more and more from a guy, and I know that that isn’t fair to him.

The older I get, the more I think lots of girls {at least, the dreamers like myself} have this same problem. We want the first kiss to be under fireworks after the perfect date, not a drunken kiss in a bar after six mixed drinks and seeing your ex-boyfriend out with another girl. But that’s real life. Real life is meeting a guy on Tinder, fighting over who has to do the laundry this time, complaining to your friends about how annoying your boyfriend’s mom is when he tells you his parents are coming to visit for the weekend. Real life is hearing the guy you’re dating say goodnight before you go to sleep, instead of having a beautifully-scripted paragraph ready to go to send you off to bed each night. And it can be really hard to revise your expectations. Especially if you’re like me, and you spend too much time listening to Matt Nathanson, Jack Johnson, and John Mayer. Songs will lead you to believe every guy is thinking these amazing things about you. That love is going to be bigger and grander than anything you could ever imagine. And maybe there are some guys out there like that {hit me up}, but I don’t think too many people are like that. I think we’re all too shy and nervous and vulnerable to be like that in a relationship. Because we look at relationships as being a contest. The person who cares more about the other person instantaneously loses by default. So we play the I-care-less-than-you game. I refuse to play. I’ve always been of the belief that competition kills a relationship. Mini-golf and bowling scores don’t count, of course. But comparing how many girls he’s kissed to how many guys you have isn’t healthy. It doesn’t matter. You both have a past. But you’re together now. And it can’t be a contest if you ever want it to work out.

Romantics everywhere, I know it’s hard to give up this preconceived notion of love and romance. It’s hard to let go of that and realize that real life isn’t the same as our fantasies. It’s hard because, in theory, the real thing isn’t nearly as exciting or enchanting as what we’ve created in our heads. But when you find someone who makes you truly happy, you’ll forget the fantasies you’ve built up for years and realize that the real, tangible thing you have with another person is a thousand times better than you ever could have imagined.

Why Love is Confusing for Twentysomethings

In honor of Valentine’s Day yesterday, I’m going to share a little about love in my life, and my general thoughts on love as a whole.

It’s complicated. Love isn’t one of those things that you can explain with a simple dictionary definition, despite what everyone will say about their personal definition of love. I think that every person is different when it comes to love, and every individual loving relationship is different. You can love your parents, your dog, and your best friends, but it’s not going to be anything like the first time you’re “in love” with someone. The first time you fall in love, it kind of destroys you, in a weird way. At least for most people, who aren’t eternally destined to be with their first love. I know that’s how it was for me.

I would spend an hour or longer getting ready for every date, and be heartbroken if my first boyfriend didn’t text me within twenty minutes of waking up every morning. And in a lot of ways, all those things were really immature. I think a lot of people have their first serious relationship right at the age where they’re most insecure, and use their significant other as a shield from all the things they don’t like about themselves, or from all the things that they’re afraid of. Some people find a perfect, blissful place where they fit in with their boyfriend. A lot of people find a person who is just as self-absorbed and confused about life as they are, and determine that they’re better off separate.

I think that, when you’re in high school {and college, to some extent}, dating is about putting up cute pictures on Instagram on Valentine’s Day or your six-month anniversary to show everyone else in your life how happy you are. It’s about a guy posting “had a great night with my best friend in the whole world” on Facebook and a bunch of random people commenting “aww how sweet!” Because that kind of stuff feels so good when you’re seventeen and want to prove that you’re mature and adult, just like all the other people your age.

But then, around the start of college, when you break out of freedom and restrictions, you realize that dating is not any of the things you thought it was when you were in high school. Dating is sleeping over at someone’s apartment and leaving a pair of pajamas and a toothbrush at their place. It’s watching a movie you don’t like that much with your boyfriend on Friday night instead of going out to a bar with your friends and chatting with hot business majors. And, for a lot of people, especially in college, it’s just not worth it. Which is fine. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and all that. Date people who make you happy. I’m not saying you should date someone who only likes the same things as you {because boring}, but definitely don’t be with someone who won’t try any of the things that you enjoy. Close-minded people aren’t people you want around in your life, long-term.

I remember the first time I was in love really well. It was so new and amazing and, at the time, I think I would have done just about anything for the guy. He did so many things that should have been clear signals that he was not a good guy to end up with, but in high school you never see that stuff in a person {at least, I didn’t}. I spent countless hours contemplating why he pulled his hand away during a movie, or convincing myself that it was no big deal that he had let me walk back to my car alone in the dark, or telling myself I wasn’t worried about the fact that he was texting other girls even though we had been dating for a year and a half. But really, all those things mattered {and I’m NOT saying that, if your boyfriend has ever done any of these things, you should break up with him – you’re not me, and your relationship is not mine!}. Because the guy was my first love, I was always going to be hypersensitive to his moods and how they made me feel. I was always going to hate his pulling away from me, when I wanted to get closer. I was always going to feel like he wasn’t as gentlemanly as I deserved when he let me walk alone in the dark. I was always going to be jealous when he texted other chicks. After we broke up, I spent a lot of time wondering if all those things were my fault: if I was unnaturally jealous, or unnaturally concerned with how much of a gentleman a guy is, or unnaturally sensitive. Then I began wondering if he was just a complete jerk and I had been an enormous idiot not to see those things from the beginning.

But the truth is, it was not my fault, nor his. Two people may be perfectly good people separately, who simply aren’t meant to be together in a romantic relationship. We made each other into completely different people, and at our worst, I could become jealous, manipulative, and oversensitive. He could become careless, over-flirtatious, and downright mean. First loves do crazy things. But we’re both with other people now, and neither of us is bitter about the past. I’m so happy now, with another guy. We went to a movie last night, and held hands during a lot of it. Sometimes I would pull my hand away to brush hair out of my eyes or to take a sip of Coke, and he didn’t worry for a second that I no longer loved him because I took my hand away {and vice versa}. We trust each other. I don’t need constant attention and vocal confessions of his love and devotion to feel loved, because I’m more mature. I love myself. I know he does too.

You stop spending Valentine’s Day worried about what to get someone and hoping they get you something good, because you start to feel like every day of your relationship is Valentine’s Day. Your love is the present. You might get each other gifts too {because what girl doesn’t love a bouquet of roses on V-day?} but you don’t spend the month leading up to the holiday reminding him you like pink roses better than red ones. If he shows up with chocolates instead, you’re fine with it, because you get to spend your night with him, and that’s what matters most. But better yet, you get to spend every other night of the year with him, too. That’s what this holiday is about. Appreciating the person you already appreciate all the time. Reminding them that they’re super-special and that you love their company and their personality.

I hate when people say “I need {insert name here} in my life.” One of the great beauties of each person’s lifetime is getting to choose the person they want to spend their life with. You get that choice, you don’t have to be stuck with someone who makes you miserable just because you feel like you need them. I completely understand feeling like you can’t go on without your first love. Breakups are awful. Seriously. They suck so much. But you can go on with your life. You have to be sad first, and then you get to be happy. You might spend a Valentine’s Day drunkenly crying about how much you miss your ex, and how all your friends seem to be getting engaged while you’re not even dating anyone. I think most people have at least one experience like that in their lives. But by next Valentine’s Day, you could be with the person who makes you happier than anyone else ever has. And then you will realize that breaking up with that guy who made you miserable {but who you once claimed that you needed} was the best thing you ever did.

Be with someone who makes you a better person. Be with someone who makes you smile and laugh. Be with someone who makes you cry, too, because that means you care about them, too. But don’t be with someone whose absence makes you feel like you’re dying. Choose laughter and happiness over drama and fights.  Date a person who keeps you up all night with kisses and snuggles, not a person who keeps you up all night in tears, trying to decide if your relationship is worth it.

More soon.