Do you believe in love at first sight? Nick Miller does.
In “Exes,” Nick tells Jess that he fell in love with her the second she walked into the loft. (I’m talking about New Girl here, if you live under a rock or are deaf and blind- the only two valid reasons not to watch it.) While, yes, of course, it’s a sitcom and he has to say that so the audience falls in love with him, it made me think about what love really is, and when you really know you feel it.
And that’s perfect, because Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. How timely my thoughts are.
I believe that you can feel attraction at first sight. Interest at first sight. Even connection at first sight. They’re all very viable things to feel when you first see a person. But is it love? That’s the question.
Websters first defines love as “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.” You love your family because they’re you’re family, and that’s just the way it goes. Your mother loves you; she thought that you were worth bearing (what I can only imagine is immense) pain and suffering to get you into this world, and once you’re here, she spends endless amounts of time, money, and energy on you. She loves you because you are her child, and because she has personal ties to you: i.e. because you are half her and half your dad.
The next definition doesn’t really help me out, because it uses “lovers” in the explanation. Isn’t that against the rules of defining something? Websters also thinks love is “attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers.” So what do lovers feel, and how do we get there? I’m tossing this definition out for the moment.
Ah, here we go. I couldn’t have defined love better myself: “affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests.” Time for rhetorical questions: can you admire someone or share common interests if all you know is what their face looks like? In my opinion, this is a big no. You have to admire someone before you can love them, and you have to know someone before you can admire them.
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for more than three years. I “loved” him in the beginning, but I LOVE him now. I don’t know how to say this without sounding horrible, but it is what it is. We may have thought that we loved each other within a year, (like Nick thought that he loved Jess the second she walked in the door) but we weren’t even close to the real meaning of love. We still aren’t! Three years is nothing compared to the thousands (millions? I don’t know) of couples that have been together for 60+ years. As we essentially grow up together, I see more qualities in him that I admire. There’s that magic word from the definition. The longer we’re together, the more time I have to know him deeply, understand him fully, and then be enabled to admire and love him more as time goes on.
(Sidenote: have we ever stopped to think that Christ loves us so much and so deeply because He actually really knows and really understands and really appreciates us? His relationship with us is the embodiment of real, lasting, eternal love, and He knows “when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar…you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You, Lord, know it completely.” Does this inherently prove the importance of knowing someone before you can love them?)
While a lot of people say the new phases of the relationship are filled with the most obsession and love and whimsical unicorns. I don’t know. My point is, I disagree. (Disclaimer! I obviously think it’s different for everyone, and if you truly fell in love with someone quickly, good for you! You must have superb conversational skills. Teach me your ways…I’m lacking in that department.) For Rick and I, the beginning was weird. I was coming out of a very confusing and painful time in my life, and I refused to let myself be vulnerable for at least a year. We got along wonderfully and he was nothing short of amazing all that time, (another reason why I love him more now) but our relationship was never a montage from a rom-com. Well, no relationship is, but you get the point.
Then one day, I don’t remember when and I don’t remember why, I just looked at him and thought ‘I truly love him. I’ve never felt this before.’ Of course, this was more than a year into our relationship, and I had “thought I loved him” before that. But it hadn’t even been close. The love I feel for Rick now is something so much better than giggly, lightheaded, butterflies in my stomach “love.” While I think you absolutely can love someone and still have those butterfly-feelings, those butterfly-feelings aren’t the love, they’re the by-product of it. I get excited to see Rick because we spend quality time together and because we have real, raw, honest talks about life and love and hate and the Kardashians. That’s actually the truth. I giggle when I’m around him because we have inside jokes and because he knows how to make me laugh. I’m lightheaded around him because we’ve been watching TV for 4 hours and I stand up too fast.
I was making his Valentine’s Day present (we’re DIY-ing because we’re college students and we’re broke) last night, and I was stunned at how quickly I came up with things that I love about him. I actually ran out of space. I had too many things that I loved about him to even fit the purpose of the present. (I’ll post the present later, it was pretty clever. Thanks Pinterest!) I never would have been able to do it so quickly a year ago, much less two years ago. Not that he hasn’t always had those qualities, but I didn’t fully understand them, and wasn’t able to fully appreciate them. But now that we’re farther along in our relationship, (I hate the term farther along, it makes me think of pregnancy) I can begin to fully grasp more and more of the wonderful qualities that I see more of every day. I’ve heard that being “in love” dies after 2 years. I don’t know if we’re in love or if it’s just regular not in-love love, but I can tell you that my love for him is only growing, and it’s not dying or withering or going.
My point is, I don’t think that love is “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry, but you should see it from my perspective.” I think love is “I’m sorry, and I know that I was wrong. I’m going to make it up to you.”
I don’t think that love is candy, dinner, flowers and lovenotes on Valentine’s Day. I think that love is candy, dinners, flowers and lovenotes any other of the 364 days in a year.
I don’t think that love is “I’ll do this because you like it, but remember that I hate it” or “I’m only doing this because you asked me to.” I think that love is “I’d love to go sock shopping with you, hon. Let me grab my purse” or “Sure, The Bachelor sounds like a great pick tonight.”
I don’t think that love is what you feel when you first see someone you’re attracted to. I think that love is realizing years down the road that you are where you never thought that you would be. It’s looking at someone, remembering the first time you saw them, and thinking, ‘I never would have imagined that I’d love them this much.’ I think that love is an evolution of admiration and respect.
In case you were wondering, after writing this, I’ve decided to change my major to Philosophy. Also, this ended up being kind-of a huge love note to Rick, so there’s that. Take it however you want to. Personally, I think it proves my point, but I’m biased. (I love you, Rick! Thanks for helping inspire this post!)
Thanks for sticking with me and reading, everyone! xoxo.