In Which I Think About What Love Is

It’s interesting how suddenly life can change, isn’t it? I was talking to a friend from school the other day about how we’re both dating and have jobs now, and how when life changes it seems to do so in a big way quickly.

The church I’ve been going to for almost a year has a lot of young couples, and it seems like babies are being born all over the place lately. I also got to spend some of last weekend with some married college friends, and I don’t know whether it’s because of my age or because I’m seriously dating someone (probably both), but it seems like recently I’ve become more aware of how relationships work and how two people can make a life together and move into the stage of kids and careers. I’ve begun to notice more how relationship and parent dynamics work, and have begun to see some of those things cropping up in my own life. 

When I was growing up I had a lot of issues with rejection because of some harmful relationships I had with friends at school, and it took me quite a while to get over it. There are still times when I feel rejected if a group of friends is hanging out without me or I’m not invited to something, even though if I think about it logically I know I’m not being rejected. I feel like, over time, I’ve healed from it pretty well and become someone who is comfortable in his own skin. I know who I am and am confident in myself, and I feel like I’m generally a mentally healthy person. This growing into myself has happened fairly recently, though, and I hadn’t been in a relationship since becoming this “well-adjusted adult” kind of person; I’d been wondering how I would do in a relationship and what I would learn from it. 

You’d have to ask my girlfriend, of course, to get the true story, but I feel like I’m doing okay. I mess up a lot more often than I’d like to, and learning how to share a life with someone else is something I’m still learning, but I feel like it’s going well. Without sounding overconfident, I look at people who are married or have kids and think that I’m definitely growing into the kind of relationship that those people have. There are aspects of married and parent relationships that I can’t know yet, but for a serious dating relationship… I think things are going well. And I’ve discovered than even though I’m comfortable as myself and usually don’t feel like I need affirmation, it’s really nice to feel loved by someone. It’s nice to hear someone say they want to be with you and like spending time with you, and it’s really good to be able to look at other people who are married or have kids, and then look at this person next to you, and feel excited about ending up that way with her.

If there is anything in this world that can just be— just “is”— it’s love. It’s really easy to just tell someone you love them, but there’s a big difference between telling someone you love them and actually letting love exist. Love is and always will be, no matter whether we accept and propagate it or not, it exists in all places at all times outside of ourselves, but there are opportunities we’re given to take love and give it to someone else, and then accept the love they give us. Once that decision is made, I’m learning, it can grow and change every day if I let it. And for someone who really likes new things, really likes learning more about a person, that kind of constantly changing love is part of what makes a relationship so good.

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