I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
Someone once asked me, “How do you know when you are in love?”
I responded the way you probably would, “You will absolutely know when you are in love.”
But that isn’t necessarily true.
Sure, it sounds good and it very well might be true to a point, but if you have no frame of reference how could you possibly know. How many relationships have you encountered where people proclaim to the world every chance they get about how “in love” they are with their partner but turn around and act the complete opposite when they are out of sight.
I have spent years telling women I was in love with them. I lied to them and I lied to myself. I wanted to believe that the woman I shared a bed with was worth the time, effort, and energy. Because I couldn’t bring myself to believe that me, in all of my infinite wisdom, would make a wrong decision on choosing a partner. Maybe “wrong” isn’t the best descriptor because there are no wrong relationships. There are only two choices: compatible and incompatible. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of the world does their best to take a square peg and force it to fit in their round hole of a life. And that is not fair to anyone. I am pretty sure most of us know what it is like to sit on a couch with someone, look over at our partner and think, “What am I doing and how can I get the hell out of this?”
Sometimes the realization happens over a first date. Sometimes it takes a few dates to realize how incompatible we are and sometimes it takes years. Worst of all, sometimes we never make the realization and we dig in and continue to live the lie because being alone is terrifying and horrible and we have birthdays and vacations planned and we get along with their family and we are thinking of buying a house and we have already had a talk about having children. We sacrifice true compatibility for the sake of comfort and cave to the pressure of our biological clocks and jealously over Instagram relationships. We want the love we see in others and we want it now so we look to the closest person who fits that image and we dig in our heels and we ride it out. We tell ourselves we made the right decision and that we found our “soul mate” but in all reality, it is all just one big con. A lie we tell so often that we believe it. We hope that if we tell it with enough passion, it will become the reality we need it to be. But it never is and we have a 60% divorce rate in America. Sixty percent. Now add in the amount of people that stick together in fucked up and unhealthy marriages and the chances of us ending up with the right person who is the right fit for all the right reasons at the right time in our life is slim to none.
So when I ask someone, “How do you know when you are in love?” I rarely trust their answer.
After all the dates and the years of relationships. The fights and the break-ups. The letters written and the sleepless nights baring my soul for another human being, I finally internalized what it means to truly love someone. But not just to love someone, but to be IN love. I can finally answer that question.
You know when you are in love with someone when their happiness means more to you than your own.
That you derive happiness from their happiness. That you give when they can’t and you are okay with it. More than okay – happy to give. Want to give. When you look at someone and try and think of new ways to surprise them. To make them feel secure. Confident in their investment. It is when you hold the hand of someone, squeeze, look into their eyes and say, “You choose dinner tonight.” And you fucking mean it.
And sometimes that means letting someone go to follow their journey because you understand their soul can’t be fulfilled unless they pursue their passion, fly to another country, or become the person they were destined to become. Like the saying, “Let it go and if it doesn’t return, it was never yours in the first place.” It is not in the hope that it will return, but it is in the letting go that shows how in love you are. To love without hope or expectation. I get it now. It took me a lot longer than I expected but I get it. And even when I don’t get my way – it is an honor to see you smile and know that I was responsible. That is how I know I am in love.