“In youth you believe in love at first sight. When you’re older, love takes longer to grow.” Someone told me something more or less like that a few weeks ago. His point, I assume, was to show me that I am too young to understand the complexity of such an important feeling. I smiled because of the irony: I was never that young.
I remember playing with Barbies when I was a child. I more or less always followed the same story structure: Barbie would be having fun with her friends, then she would kind of accidentally bump shoulders with Ken, they would exchange some pleasantries and each would go their separate ways. Then they would meet again unexpectedly a couple of times. At some point, Ken would gather the courage to ask Barbie out, they would hang out, live a little bit of romance, then they would fight for some idiotic reason, usually jealousy or disrespect (the fault was always his) and would be apart for some time, like one or two months.
Now prepare for the best part. It will make you smile, I bet. One beautiful day Barbie would be walking by the water on a beach during sunset time, lost in thoughts. She would be fine, in a good place in her life, but there would be this emptiness that bothered her when alone. While dealing with it, she would glace around idly – and there, distant to the point of almost being a dot in the landscape, would be Ken. After a second, he would spot her too. There would be shock, hesitation and hope. Most importantly, there would be love; the time apart would have made them realize that what they felt for each other was deep ever-lasting love. A melodramatic song would play in my head while I made them give up pride and run – in slow motion, of course – towards each other, finishing the story with a desperate embrace.
However cheesy and ridiculous this story sounds by now (especially the ending), I always remember it with a smile of fondness. It’s a good story to show you how even at that age (six or seven) I didn’t believe in love at first sight. It was something that grew from interaction, from getting to know each other slowly, from understanding the other in good and bad ways, but still wanting to hold on.
I believe in infatuation and how you can get impressed by someone, even obsessed, for a few weeks, maybe months, leading naiver people to think they are in love. I believe in lust and how you might project a relationship, really wish and crave for it, assuming it is love at first sight.
But love doesn’t happen overnight. By the way, since we are touching the subject: although there are indeed different kinds of affection, love is love. Defining the real thing by using adjectives such as “real”, “deep” and “ever-lasting” is kind of redundant and only demonstrates how we use the term vaguely and unfairly. Love by definition is real, deep and permanent. But for the purposes of explaining my point, I will continue to refer to it with complementary adjectives (between brackets).
Returning to the subject: (real) love is composed of so many complicated aspects and feelings. I won’t bother to define them all right now (not only because I don’t have the space and time for it, but also because I am not entirely sure of everything that’s involved in it – then again, I don’t think anyone really knows); suffice to say most of them take time to root.
One of them, and for me one of the most important of the bunch, is trust, which can take years to build. Not trust in the sense of believing that the other person will not cheat on you (honestly, that’s the easiest trust to give, at least in my opinion), but trust in the sense that you know you can open yourself completely and show all the parts that compose you, especially the bad ones, because the other person loves you enough to put up with it and accept it. Trust in the sense that you believe that both will hold their end of the bargain no matter the difficulties or hardships. Trust in the sense that you have absolutely no doubt that it’s worth it.
That’s not easy to achieve. At least not in my case. Maybe in everyone’s case; that’s why (deep) love is so difficult to be seen these days. People either give up too quickly or figure it’s not worth the trouble. But if you stick to it – my God, I don’t even have the words to describe the magnitude of what happens when you stick to it. I guess I don’t need to describe it; if you feel it, you’ll know what I am talking about.
Love takes time. Months. Years. Decades. All those movies and stories where the characters say they loved each other since the first moment – I never believed that. This notion is a storytelling resource to add drama by defining temporary feelings with the use of definitive terms. That’s actually what led people to start using adjectives when referring to love, in my opinion: because the word by itself stopped being enough to encompass the grandiosity of it, since it was being used so freely for superficial or temporary feelings.
It took me almost two years to love my best friend (I would complement with “deeply and without reservations” if I didn’t believe the word by itself is enough). She is one of the very few selected people in my life with whom I have reached this point of trust and love. And only because I stuck to it and didn’t give up, even when she drove me crazy. And why? Because I believed it was worth it. And it was. It is.
I might be wrong about all of this. What do I know, anyway, right? Only fools assume they know the truth about anything. Maybe there is something as instantaneous and life-wrecking as love at first sight. Good for whoever feels it.
Me? I prefer believing that love takes time. It makes it all the more special and gut-wrenching, because when you finally open yourself to it, when you at last give in to the real thing, you realize that one-second feelings don’t matter that much. Love is infinite, and as long as you are in it, you are too.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
May you be with someone who makes you feel as eternal as love itself.