I Haven't Been in Love in 7 Years
THERE'S ONE MISTAKE THAT'S PREVENTED ME FROM FALLING IN LOVE. Here’s THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOVE AND BEING "IN LOVE" and the root of why people settle.
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 lasted a few months), AND have had 3-4 serious boyfriends.
I've deeply cared for other people. I've actually 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.
Case in point. A few years back, I was on a train in Italy with my boyfriend traveling through the Alps for New Year's. I remember having this extremely happy memory where I was so "into" him that I couldn't help but SIT. ON. HIS. LAP. I liked him so much in that moment that I literally wanted to be as close as possible to him. We then listened to music sharing earbuds - blissfully like two "lust-birds" (not love birds) staring out at the gorgeous Italian landscape. I loved that moment, and 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.
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, your ridiculous photos of yourself and say out loud, “God, we were just kids”.
When you're a kid, you're not thinking about your biological clock, finances, long-term compatibility, etc. You love blindly. You just feel, and do, whatever it is that you want to do.
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 or 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.
I remember 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 about things that shouldn't have ever been things. I was an immature 24-year old that did not yet know 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 the exact same way - by not having life work out the way we've planned. I didn't want to let him go, but I was too naive to understand that my actions were damaging.
My young ego took a few years to develop, and it wasn't until I was in my late twenties that I full accepted my part in 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.
So, I haven't found someone I've loved as much as him.
But, if could do it all over again... if there was some magic genie or crystal ball that gave me the option to stay in that relationship OR break up with the love of my life and get 7 full years of adventures, new cities and 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. Because while love is one of the most beautiful experiences in life, I fell in love with multiple places, friends, and things. That’s how I know we made the right decision.
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. I'm optimistic to know I've learned the tools along this ride to make a relationship that has that much love, actually work.
That Instagram quote I saw one time.
Alas, you're wondering why I haven't found someone else.
People ask me OFTEN, and if they don't say it aloud, they might think it. Why is Brittany single? What's wrong?
Part of it is fate. I know I haven't met the right person yet. I remember seeing this quote on Instagram that "love" happens when two people are given the same set of directions to an end point, but take different paths to get there.
One day in some lovely perfect world two people end up at the same place, at the same time, and....magic. So, maybe it's just a really long google maps route.
The other part, the BIG mistake in dating that I've been alluding to this entire time is... I've been searching for love with my head and not my heart.
I know what you might be thinking. WHAT? Isn't that a given?
It's not so clear. I think there are things you can have in a relationship that deceive you in thinking it's "love." Example being, great communication. “We talk for hours,” you tell your best friend. AHAHAHAHA our inside jokes. Nicknames. Or, we get along well. "We had this amazing vacation together where we toured a gorgeous winery. The sex was amazing, blah blah."
I've been searching for things, not feelings. Here's a good way to look at it:
As the years went on, the clock forced me to think through every relationship with my list. If I had 10 was that good? No, the next had 15. Maybe even 20. But in the end, my heart would win the game and I'd start all over.
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, had drive, 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 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. Despite the fact that I wasn't able to be vulnerable or the best version of myself.
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 the superficial things, but items on our checklist where we convince ourselves the relationship is right because they have our "favorite book in common" or "love to be active". Distractions that will not lead us to happiness for the next 50 years. Perhaps we're not taking into account how we really feel when we open our sleepy eyes and see them for the first time.
I'm not saying I'm fully reformed, but the first step to finding love is recognizing that maybe I’ve been searching for a relationship with rose colored glasses on vs. simply... taking them off, closing my eyes, and seeing how I really feel.