Perhaps because I am a hopeless romantic, too sentimental, a dreamer, maybe because I never seem to kill hopes completely, or because I see the good in everything even when I try to focus on the bad, or maybe because I am a control freak... maybe because of none of the above, I have been looking around, thinking, over thinking, who knows.
On my way to work today I thought about the huge difference between falling in love and being in love. I think it's not the same, although so many times we think they are synonyms.
I think they are two very, very different things. Falling in love is a matter of attraction, something catches our eyes, physical appearance, intellect, personality (or some part of the vast mixture of drags that compound it). Falling in love is strong, it's fast. It's butterflies in the stomach, is not being able to keep our hands out of each other, is passion, is thinking about the other, wondering, giving a too big space to uncertainty, to the unknown, to the expectations. Falling in love is the heart speeding up, the blood rushing to the cheeks, the involuntary smiles, the puppy eyes. It is that weird thing that makes us smile with a text message and walk into a lightning pole while reading it again and again. It's fun! Falling in love can make us wake up singing that horrendous cheesy song over and over again. Falling in love is magical, it's making believe we are about to finally get our happily ever after. It's seeing a prince, a knight, a queen, a lady.
Being in love, on the other hand, is something very different. Happily ever after is not a sparkle that keeps on and on forever more. We sometimes hope the feelings of falling in love will never fade, but they do eventually. They do fade because the surprises are over, because we don't wonder, because we don't expect, because we know. Far too many times I hear that couples break up because the sparkle is gone and I can't but wonder why is that so bad. That should be a good thing! sparkles don't last! they can't last, they are not meant to last. Sparkles are ephemeral, they are there to catch our eyes, they are there to invite us to see deeper. Sparkles are hormones rushing to our limbic system if you want it put like that. Being in love is not!
Love, the one that lasts, the one that leads to a happily ever after is something we do. Love takes time, sacrifices, compromise, nurturing, it takes a lot of work and patience. I know it is a cliche but love, real love, the kind that lasts, is no wild flower that just grows by itself among the weed. Love needs to be taken care of. I was cutting the dead pansies from my plants, so the new ones can come beautiful and strong and thought that love is a little bit like a pansy plant. We will see flowers die, disappointments come, we make mistakes, the loved one makes mistakes, we misunderstand each other, we argue, we find out differences and we face disease, trouble, economical problems, trials, routine... All that after the sparkle is gone! And I think that it is then when the time comes for us to cut the dead parts in the relationship and the dead flowers in our significant other, and nourish the good ones through forgiveness, patience, hugs, laughs. Love takes time! I think it's sad we sometimes think we have to be living in the "falling in love stage" to stay together because I think loving is so, so different!
I thought later about how I love my girls, I forgive them, I love them the same if they make a mistake, I understand them if they treat me bad sometimes, because they are learning, because I have to teach them how to treat me. I forgive them because I understand that they make mistakes and don't mean wrong, or sometimes they do, but there is always a reason beneath that anger and rage, a reason I am eager to find and understand, because I love them! We grown ups are not much different from kids, we make mistakes, we need to learn how to treat each other, we teach each other, too; we do our best and instead of being patient, loving and understanding we judge and reject.
Love takes time, sometimes it blooms into a magnificent, beautiful strong thing, sometimes it doesn't despite our efforts, but it won't grow if we don't try, it just does not build up out of nothing. Being in love is not the possessive feeling we might feel when falling in love. Being in love is, for me, caring even when angry, smiling even when in pain, being there even when we don't want to, making time for each other on the tightest schedule, going the extra mile despite being exhausted, wanting the other to be happy even when that means letting them go. Being in love is having seen deeper and accepting their imperfection, their mistakes, their screw ups.
I do believe in happily ever afters (I am that naive), and I do believe they take a lot of work, a lot of walking through the darkness and the storms without letting go of each other's hands, it takes fights, nights of not wanting to see each other, going through the rough path of life with the determination to never, ever stop nourishing each other, cutting away the dead flowers to see the pretty ones, to help them grow, to make each other better.
Some think that there is a little bit of resignation when being with someone takes hard work. I don't think so. I think that expecting a love based on the sparkle that catches our eye, on hormones set into motion, is rather foolish. But what do I know? I just think, I believe, I dream. I'm also learning.