I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve enjoyed receiving relationship advice from those click-bait articles on Facebook. Something about reading “10 Things He Does That Show He’s Really Into You” is comforting and indulgent. Ironically, it is usually only when I’m feeling insecure that I seek out the reassurance of these overly general and somewhat obvious lists. However, it’s been over years-long periods of dating people who weren’t right for me that I’ve learned that if someone is interested in you, you’ll know it and feel it.
Still, feelings of love and attraction only go so far. This is contrary to my perception of romanticism when I was younger. The movies show us that love is about passion and exhilaration – which is true. But what is also true is that loving someone is a choice, and that choice is made even when passion and exhilaration are absent.
In my teenage relationships, once the “spark” would fade (which is natural after about six months to a year of dating the same person) I took it to mean that the relationship was over. It wasn’t until I ended a three-year relationship in college that I began to realize that dating wasn’t something that just ‘happened’ to you – it is a lifestyle that requires maintenance and care. This notion still took me a little bit of time to get right, because I then entered into a relationship that I was determined to make work despite all of the glaring issues with the person I was dating. I convinced myself that I had to choose to be with him, even when he made me feel horribly. It’s safe to say that this arrangement did not work out, and it was yet another learning experience to add to my repertoire of failed relationships.
Even now at 25-years-old, I’ve got nothing on couples celebrating their 30-year wedding anniversaries (like my parents!). I know what I am looking for in a long-term partner, and I feel comfortable balancing my wants and needs with the reality that nobody is perfect. I can only hope that I get the opportunity to share a life with and care deeply for someone who is an easy choice to be with everyday. In the present, I consider myself lucky to be in a relationship with someone who I truly care about and treats me with love and respect.