Before I begin, it would only be fair to stress upon the fact that this article was written based on personal experiences and opinions, and not on any sort of generalized basis!
I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea of love. Right from the age of a toddler, we are exposed and enchanted by the world of romance. After all, if Cinderella found her prince charming, we’re all meant to too, right?
Fairy tales and movies have eternally glorified the idea of unrequited, selfless, true, and easy love. It’s never easy though. Don’t get me wrong, the hardest part of love is always the chase. At least, that’s what we’ve learnt. There’s always an obstacle in this perfect love story- a jealous ex, the rude mother-in-law, the toxic best friend, the evil stepmother- the world refuses to let the lovers have it easy.
But that’s okay, isn’t it? No matter how big the conflict, the lovebirds will always run back into the other’s arms to enjoy their Happily Ever After.
What happens after the Happily Ever After?
You don’t see how Eugene and Rapunzel have a tough time adjusting their lifestyles together. How she struggles to understand the responsibilities of a princess- you don’t see how the kingdom gossips about how the “to-be” prince was a crook. How Eugene finds himself in a devastating position almost constantly, having to prove his sincerity all too often.
Poor Belle’s father is terrified of his son-in-law; even after he lost all the extra fur. He suffers from PTSD, the harrowing kidnapping encounter making it very hard for him to go about his daily life. Belle secretly resents her lover for her father’s ill health and Beast thinks Belle’s a little preachy and high maintenance. The couple is at constant loggerheads and they feel disheveled. After all, there’s only so much therapy singing cutlery can provide them within the large palace.
It’s not just the Disney fairytales, every romantic comedy follows a similar forage. You have the super independent, career-focused CEO boss lady who has a disturbed past with love. Her parent’s divorce convinced her that love just isn’t a happy thing!
But wait. In comes our hero, the goofy laid back dude that drives madame superior NUTS. Although, he starts showing her the little joys in life, and suddenly, she’s found nirvana, and love is the essence of her existence.
Okay, don’t get me wrong here. I’m a HUGE sucker for Disney fairytales and romcoms. I bawl my eyes out like a baby when Edward rolls up to Vivian’s house to profess his undying love. I’m a hypocrite, really. But the heart wants what it wants, right?
Real talk though, after all, I’m just a 17-year-old gal, what do I know about love?
What if I say I do? What if I say I'm in love? Will you call me crazy and naive? I wouldn’t blame you if you do. Young love is reckless, temporary, all flames, but no fire- at least that’s the general assumption.
Maybe I’m in the wrong here. Maybe I’ll look back at this a few years later and read the same words I wrote with passion, and feel distaste.
My understanding of love may not resonate with you. Love is a very personal emotion, and it’s one that is impossible to understand at times.
“Love is easy.”
That’s a quote I’ve read a lot. It’s also a quote I disagree with. I’ll be really clear here- falling in love? It’s bound to happen. There will be someone out there that calls out to you, someone who understands you, someone who you feel comfortable with. I know, it sounds unrealistic and something out of a cheap romance novel, but who knows huh? There’s a whole world out there. Permutation and combination, it’s simple math.
Falling in love is just the first step. At least, that’s how I see it. Staying in love? That’s a whole different ball game.
We’re human beings. We make mistakes, our needs are complex, we fail at communicating, our emotions can change from one moment to another. There are crisis moments, emergencies, failures, and apologies.
But there are also triumphs and celebrations and excitement and happiness.
In my opinion, love is not all one thing. It’s never any one thing at all. Love is complex and dynamic and changes over time.
I’m in love with someone. Someone beautiful and kind and loving and respectful. I know that there’s definitely going to be a bunch of you that scoff and call me childish. I say this as politely as I can, I simply couldn't be more bothered. In the past year, I’ve understood so much about love, or what love means to me.
Does this mean I assume that this is my happily ever after?
I’ve learnt that relationships require more than just love. They require trust, commitment, companionship, patience, determination, communication, respect for the other, respect for yourself, and most importantly, hope. I’ve seen how distance can throw a wrench in a smooth sailing; I’ve seen miscommunication blow small arguments up. I’ve seen something as minute as love for a football club cause a comical ruckus.
At the same time, I’ve known my partner's arms to be the very definition of warmth. I’ve known his words to hold wisdom and concern. I've known his voice to be reassuring. I’ve known him to be a best friend, before a lover. But there’s a lot more I’ve yet to see, a lot more I've yet to feel. Does the adventure ever stop though? Is there ever going to be a time I would have seen, felt, tried EVERYTHING?
You tell me.
Love isn’t easy, folks. It’s tough and stormy and devastating. But at the same time, the right love is respectful, gentle, understanding, and compassionate. Love isn’t selfless either. Being selfless implies being able to put someone above yourself. In this definition, loving yourself is selfish.
How could you love someone without loving yourself?
Love can be blind, love can lead you to believe that it’s okay to be disrespected and degraded- all because you love someone and they love you too. I’ve grown up surrounded by relationships of different degrees and dynamics. Parents, grandparents, family, peers, acquaintances - all of it. If there’s one thing I've learnt it’s this: if you can’t respect yourself in a relationship, you won’t ever be respected in one.
No one has a handle on predicting the future. Sometimes relationships don’t work, despite the robust commitments of both people. People change, promises break and the unthinkable happens.
You’re going to fight. You’re going to annoy each other, bicker endlessly and battle over the smallest, most insignificant details. To be completely fair, I think that’s what’s normal, not the overly romanticized “happily ever after” that makes you feel like if you’re not happy 100% of the time then something must be wrong in your relationship.
Nope, you’ve got this.
Am I a relationship expert? HELL no. But am I someone who values relationships that nurture not just you, but your partner too? Absolutely. I believe in love, I live love and I know love to be one of the most beautiful things in this whole wide world.
Till my next rant, ciao!