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Love, we’ve all felt it. Or at least, we think we have. However, there are signs that we mistake for love that most certainly are not.
Love might be the greatest verb of all, but doing that particular word is particularly complex. Grasping it is a trial. As we’re told growing up, through the wrinkled faces of those who’ve walked before us, you can rely on a feeling. When you know, you know.
I call bulltwang. Signs give way to feelings which give way to love. However, a lot of common signs, and what we assume to be love, actually are not.
Tier one: You’re feeling elated, lifted, beyond grasp.
This tier is what we all feel, backed up by movies, music and song. But in reality, love is not the peaks or highs. It’s not in the upside. It exists in the pit. Which is not to say that it should be unsatisfactory, or dangerous, but when things invariably go south, the reaction is telling. If you’d rather flee than work it out, it was a sweet euphoric nothing.
Tier two: Infatuation, preoccupation, obsession or “feelings”
Don’t get me wrong, feelings are one of the only things we truly possess, they make our existence tolerable. But, one should understand that love is simply not the feels, as that makes for immature, imbalanced relationships, where the bedrock can be instantly eroded by no longer feeling it.
Love is a series of choices, investments, efforts and paths taken, it’s not the gooey feeling when you see them slide off a train, or query the satisfaction of your sleep painted in morning hues.
Tier three: Pleasure, inclusive of regarding them as “beautiful”
It’s a murky line, oft-hidden in the folds of linen, under the driving beat in nightclub vibrations, or in lost afternoons, or ferried in the backseats of chauffeured avenues.
The giving and receiving of pleasure is meaningful, as is the connection one feels during, or after, but it is not love. Don’t get me wrong, you can feel these things and still experience love with a person, but that shouldn’t be the reason. Mind-blowing coitus or indefinable writhing connection should not be the foundation of love.
Tier four: Fear
Simply put, fear and love cannot exist in the same plane. Fearing love and the fear of being alone are the same thing, and they certainly are not love.
So, what is it?
We may trip, fall and stumble into attraction and infatuation. Often, this happens against our will, but a mature love is something you need to water. Something you need to build. Love, at least to me, is mutual investment. Both in growth, in life. Actions to back this, choices to echo it.
Above all, it is embracing someone’s failures, their worst aspects. Putting their negative aspects in a box you tape closed and store in the attic is not it. Nor is the endless placation of situations, nor sticking around to ensure their feelings are safe-vouched. Care and compassion are required, babysitting and towering platitude are not.
Best of luck.