There is a prevalent thought in our (American) society that love is supposed to be a magical, breath-taking experience, complete with butterflies and bird song. I can speak more strongly about the female side of this, but I have been assured that this problem is double sided. Men trying to live up to impossible standards and failing or possibly not trying at all. There is this thought that permeates our lives that begins from very young, usually before we can even make sense of it. My trip through hell began with my very first Disney movie. Before I could even process more than bright shiny colors I was being conditioned to look for a prince among frogs. Hollywood (while not completely to blame) takes a large part in this problem. Afterhad prepped me for a life of searching, I upgraded to Hollywood, that showed me that love cannot be complete without drama and a major conflict. I needed to force my prospective man to prove his love to me in some sort of grand gesture. And there had to be sex, lots of passionate sex that made my toes curl and so forth.
The truth is that love and lust are separates entities, they play together very nicely, and for some people, both are required for a truly fulfilling relationship. However, just because some people require both does not make them the same, so let’s make some qualifications here. Lust – desire, longing of a sexual nature, kissing, “petting”, sex, foreplay, basically anything that “gets your motor going” belongs in this category. Love – the desire to be around someone, simple compatibility, concern for the well-being of someone else, just generally caring for someone, mutual respect, trust ect. The problem with this is that there is no way to quantify love/lust for every person and the categories are not mutually exclusive.
So this beacons the question, “Then how can Hollywood makes movies of what love should be?!” The truth is that it can’t, Hollywood can feed our society with crazy notions and extreme stories but that is all they are! Swerving back to my own personal story for just a moment; going from my limited experience in real world dating and my vast knowledge of cartoon love, I started trying to tackle the proverbial wall of love at the ripe old age of 16. Unprepared and armed to the teeth with animated malarkey, I, shockingly, failed, lots. I was not prepared for an adult relationship nor did I have any idea of what love should be. Now, of course you didn’t, I hear you saying. But you should know that my butterflies and birds theory of love prevailed long after that. I met a very nice man, on the internet, I met him in person and a week later moved in with him, two states away from the only home I had ever known. We’ll call that my equivalent of back packing through Europe before college, I was 20.
Now, far from the horror story I see you all imagining in your collective heads, this relationship turned out to be the one for me. I found a man that allowed me the room to change when I needed to; which when you’re 20 is quite often. It was during this relationship that I found out what love truly is. Love does not include bird song and fluffy things on a continual basis. That part of love is what everyone refers to as the “honeymoon” period. When everything is great and “omg I love him so much” and you want to wear a princess ball gown at your wedding. But what comes after that period is the tricky part and that ladies and gents is where you will find love. The desire to push through the crap of the world after all the birds have gone hoarse. The want to still be with them after the butterflies have died. There isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t want to light my husband on fire for one thing or another, but leaving him was never an option for me because I know without him my life would be worse. That (at least to me) is real love. I think about how my love life started and all the silly ideas of grandeur that played in my head; I wish I could go back and teach myself that simply sitting next to someone you cared about was enough.
I don’t know if this will make sense to anyone else. I’ve been editing for coherence and trying to retain my original meaning but this is what I’ve come up with: Love does not equal lust and after your lust has died (which is okay), you need to love the person you’re sitting next to and no one can tell you what that will feel like except that it won’t feel like what you expect.