I get why everyone wants love. Why we all expend so much time, energy, effort, and money on dating and attracting a mate. Why we all dream of Happily Ever After. Why we shriek upon news of a friend’s engagement, and cry at almost every wedding. Why we gossip about breakups and stigmatize divorce, as if splitting up were the most tragic thing that could happen to two people. Why we shun relationship realities and hide behind hash tag proclamations about how proud we are of our significant others.
Love is a wonderful drug. It can be truly amazing to find it, and to give in to it—to soak in its enigmatic powers and revel in the feeling that “this is it”. To feel as if you’ve finally unlocked the secret to happiness, that you’ve discovered purpose in a potential life partner.
We all want a partner; someone to lean on for support; someone to count on as a permanent plus-one; someone to vent to; someone to celebrate achievements with, big and small; someone to have sexual intercourse with.
But love won’t fix your life.
It can’t. It might make things better, especially in the beginning, when you first find that person you’re pretty sure you can do forever with. Early love really does have a way of making the whole world look a hell of a lot brighter. When you’re smitten, annoying tasks suddenly don’t seem like such a pain in the ass. Pleasant activities somehow become yet more rewarding.
But infatuation doesn’t last, not even for the most love drunk people on the planet. We know this. And yet, we forget it again and again. Lust eventually dissipates. When it does, it’s replaced by comfort, shared experiences, and more and more treasured memories. Also, fighting, jealousy, temptation, doubts, and relationship fatigue.
Lasting love is certainly possible, but not if you expect love to do all the work for you and not if you refuse to understand love’s limits.
Love doesn’t transform your entire reality. It doesn’t make you a different person, solve all your problems, or erase your past mistakes. If anything, it creates additional struggles. Love isn’t always pretty. It can be downright ugly. It isn’t a Band-Aid for emotional despair. In fact, it wreaks havoc on people’s psyches in a lot of cases. It isn’t a reason to live. Actually, it can drive people to kill. Crimes of passion are a real thing. Love breeds kindness and passion and beauty. But it also breeds nastiness, darkness, and even hate.
We want love to be greater than it is. We want it to be this transcendent force that unites us as humans, even as it tears us apart. We want it to make life worth living. We want it to heal our pain. We want it to imbue our existence with meaning. But the truth is, YOU have to do all of that for yourself.
We all want love, and we all deserve it. But you shouldn’t expect your entire world to change magically as soon as you find it. Yes, certain aspects of life are immediately finer once you find a perpetual partner in crime. But love isn’t always the answer. Often, the answer is simply hard work or introspection and personal growth. Sometimes, the answer is good-bye. Sometimes, it’s just plain no.
The life you lead is determined by the sum of the choices you make. Some of those choices relate to the people you decide to love. But so many others have nothing to do with love at all.
Don’t live for love. If you expect it to fulfil you, or pressure the people you love to make you feel whole, you’ll end up gravely disappointed, and, most likely, alone. Love is wonderful, but it isn’t everything. Fiction’s greatest love stories are literally unbelievable. The greatest love songs are inspired, but reductive.
Love is not all you need. You have other needs, and only you can see to it that all of those needs are met. So look inside yourself and figure out what you want out of life. Then commit as much time, energy, effort, and financial resources to making that other stuff happen as well.
By all means, find someone to love. Just don’t forget to find yourself at some point too.