I Haven't Been in Love in 7 Years
In the past 7 years I’ve lived in 4 cities, 6 houses, have been on over 75+ dates, from those - casually dated close to 20 people (I guess by dating I mean going on several dates or having flings that last a few months), AND have had 3-4 serious boyfriends.
I've deeply cared for other people. I've made lifelong memories, so much so, that a few important men in my life have significantly shaped the person I am today. I've loved other people, as people, and have said I love you. I did love them.
This is supposed to be the opposite of a sad story. Going back to my previous post, my entire twenties, and now early thirties, are the "extra" years I get completely for myself. I've still had incredibly romantic moments.
A few years back, I was on a train in Italy with my boyfriend traveling to the Alps for New Year's. I remember having this extremely happy moment where I was so "into" him that I couldn't help but sit on his lap. Literally, I liked him so much in that moment in time I wanted to be as close as possible to him. So we listened to music sharing earbuds - blissfully like two "lust-birds" (not love) staring out at the gorgeous Italian landscape. I loved that moment, certain qualities he had, but it was mostly endorphins and the picturesque train ride that made me feel happy.
So, going back to the title of this post. After 7 years of ups and downs (waves if you will - Thirty Waves) in dating, I haven’t truly been in love the entire time and it's all because I've been making one mistake over and over again.
How do I define being in love?
There’s something special about falling in love as a kid. And by kid, I mean anything really under thirty because as you get older and look back on any age before then, you blame your mistakes, life decisions, you ridiculous photos of yourself, and say outloud, “God, we were just kids”.
When you're a kid, you're not thinking about your biological clock, or thinking, really at all. You love blindly. You just feel, and do, whatever it is that you want to do.
Okay, so what does being in love mean?
Why the middle? The beginning of a relationship derives mostly from lust. Lusting for the fairytale you've always wanted. The end of a relationship is mostly fear. Fear of the unknown, of starting over, and knowing in your gut this isn't your forever person but you're just not ready to accept that yet and keep fighting to make it happen. Fighting for something not right isn’t real love.
The middle part of a relationships holds the COMFORTING and amazing memories you'll always think of when looking back at anyone you’ve loved. The Sunday cuddles. The boring Monday night taco dinners. The fully vulnerable moments of you being just you, bathroom door open, sending that GIF because you're not worried he won't text back, or texting three times in a row saying "helloooo?" when they're busy because it doesn't really matter or saying that really ridiculous thing you wouldn't say to anyone else but you know that no matter what it is, they're still going to be there and hopefully laugh along with you and hold you when you're crying from a bad day at work because "you're just not fucking valued" and you're tired of it. If you get what I mean.
The last time.
When I think of being in love, I think back to those mornings when we first opened our sleepy eyes, and instantly smiled. It’s fairly blurry now, but I can still picture that face and feeling in that instant. The slight pain I felt each day closing the door when I left for work. Feeling excited almost every day, after years, driving home knowing I was about to see him. Walking in the door and jumping up in his arms à la dirty dancing style each night. Yes, that was really our thing. Loving that he was into samurai swords, or didn’t brush his hair. I loved him with all of my heart.
This is not to say the relationship was blissful. We fought like crazy. I was petty and overreacted over things that shouldn't have ever been things. I was an immature 24-year old that did not yet learn how to properly treat my partner with kindness, and the exact same went for him. The end part of the relationship was miserable, and we did the right thing to part ways.
Everyone has to learn about love, or rather, any critical learning in life in the exact same way - by not having life work out the way we've planned. My young ego and naivety took me a few years to accept my part in damaging the relationship. During those years, he married someone that probably had the qualities I was missing at the time; patience, easy-going-ness. The opposite of my feisty and passionate 24-year-old self.
The Ironic Part
If I could do it all over again. If there was some magic genie or crystal ball that gave me the option to stay in this relationship OR break up with the love of my life and get 7 full years of adventures, new cities/countries, friends across the world, and stories so good - that I wanted to start this blog... which would I have chosen?
The adventure route, in a heartbeat. That’s how I know we made the right decision. Boy, do I feel lucky for doing so.
I’m not trying to sound pretentious, but it’s been my journey that I'm grateful to have had...whether or not it was my plan or choice back in the day. Grateful and optimistic that I've learned the tools along this adventure to make a relationship that has that much love, actually (potentially) work.
That Instagram Quote I saw one time.
Alas, you're wondering why I haven't found that again.
People ask me OFTEN, and if they don't say it aloud, they think it. Why is Brittany single? What's wrong?
Okay, part of it is fate. I haven't met the right person yet. I remember seeing this quote on Instagram that "love" happens when two people get given the same set of directions, but take different paths to get there. And one day in some lovely perfect world two people end up at the same place, at the same time, and....magic.
So, maybe I’m still on my way there.
The other part, the BIG mistake that I've been alluding to this entire time is…
There are things you can sometimes have in a relationship that make you feel like you’re "in love." Examples being: great communication. “We talk for hours,” you tell your best friend. AHAHAHAHA our inside jokes. Nicknames. Our amazing vacation together where we toured a gorgeous winery.
I've been searching for things, not feelings. All of these ^^^ things.
My mistake over the years has been searching for love with my head and not my heart. I know what you might be thinking. WHAT? Isn't that a given?
No. I think a lot of people walk around thinking and not feeling. Isn't that the underlying root of people settling? Logically thinking, "this is the best choice for now."
Looking back at the last few people I've dated, I used my brain and logic as a compass to stay in the relationship. They were highly educated, interesting, shared common interests, were driven, some were sweet, why wouldn’t we be a great match?!
Did they make me feel safe to open up? Not really. Was I questioning myself? Yes. Was I better person when I was with them? No. But, we had so many thingssssss.
I wasn't able to be fully vulnerable and our communication patterns didn't mesh, and I constantly wondered why something was missing but kept it moving. Lastly, they didn't get the best version of me, mostly as a result of the first two. I fought for these relationships or men in my life because logically, they made sense and I hoped that maybe, just maybe, they’d work out.
God Damn Technology.
While my thoughts were telling me to be happy or make the relationship work. As the years went on, the clock forced me to think through every relationship with a list of things. If I got 10 was that good? No, the next had 15. Maybe even 20. But my heart always spoke for me in the end and I kept on searching.
It's funny, I've worked for a dating app. But the more I write this the more I realize that every time I swiped left, or right, it was because of their electronic checklist.
Perhaps the most famous love and relationship column in the world is the New York Times Modern Love.
The editor, Daniel Jones believes technology is being used as a shield to find love...aligning with my point that apps or checklists can sometimes do the same.
After 20 semi-relationships and 3-4 boyfriends later, I’m finally realizing the key to love is feeling the feels not having the things. Not just superficial things, but items on our checklists where we convince ourselves the relationship is right because they have our "favorite book in common" or "love to be active" and aren't taking into account what our hearts are really telling us.
I'm not saying I'm fully reformed, but the first step is recognizing that maybe I’ve been searching for a relationship with some rose colored glasses on vs. simply... taking them off, closing my eyes, and seeing how I really feel.
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