You only have to go on any form of social media to be bombarded with posts about love – about what love should feel like, to be exact. They say love it’s a rollercoaster; they say whenever you see your SO, your heartbeat would race; they say that kisses are fierce and ignite all parts of your body; they say love is about giving gifts, about comfort; they say no one is perfect until you fall in love with them. But being in a relationship for four years now, I don’t think this is what love is. At least, not to me.
When you have been with the other person for so long, that you know each other inside out, it is no longer a roller-coaster ride. When you see them after a long and tiring day, your heart doesn’t speed up. It slows down. Your problems don’t vanish, they become bearable, because you know someone will be there to carry them with you. You see, I don’t think it is the excitement of having your innards defy gravity that hold long-term relationships; it’s the feeling of coming home. When walking into your SO’s arms calms your nerves, makes the world seem a little more bearable, and makes you lower those barriers you have put up through the day – that, is what it feels like now.
You no longer constantly send each other extremely romantic texts. Instead, there are inner jokes that only you two share. There are practical aspects of loving someone – asking if they managed to grab something to eat, because you know they tend to forget it in their busyness; texting an appointment that they have to go to, because they would invariably forget it; or sending that one “good luck” text because you know they have been nervous about that meeting, although they didn’t say a word.
There are a lot of nonverbal discussions too. You know each other so well that you know without asking something is wrong. You also know when to pick up the subject, and when to let it be, until they broach it themselves. You understand when to simply listen, and when to give advice. You learn, be it man or woman, when to give a comforting hug and when to sit them down and talk some hard sense into them. All these, you learn, after the honeymoon phase.
“I love you”s don’t startle the butterflies anymore. But now there is a wide variety of “I love you”s. There’s the one you say when saying good-bye; the one that means “I’m sorry”; the one for “thank you for understanding”; the one which expresses how lucky you are to have them in your life. The “I love you”s don’t necessarily come at picture perfect moments either. Now they make random appearances. You say it when they wash the dishes. You say it when they remind you to take your medicine. You say it when they passionately rant about injustice of the system. You say it when they buy a packet of food for the beggar on the street. You say when you go to bed. You say it when you have had a fight, and neither of you are over it. You say it when they make you laugh. You say it when they unexpectedly fart. You say it without apparent reason. Because “I love you” means so much more now.
So do kisses. Now there are quick kisses of “take care”. Endearing forehead kisses of “I’ll see you later”. Cold kisses when you are fighting, warm kisses when he has just made you a cup of tea. There are random kisses because you feel so laden with love when you see him. There are stolen kisses given behind a rack at the grocery store. There are forced kisses, where you kiss them because they look so uncomfortable with PDA. There are playful kisses, loving kisses and kisses just because. And then of course there are passionate kisses, which lead to so much more.
But more than anything else, you no longer think they are perfect. Oh no. You know all the blemishes and scars, and all the imperfectness that is there. But you love those too. You know he squeezes the tube of toothpaste right from the middle, and he knows you leave long strands of hair wherever you go. It annoys you, drives you up the wall. But you love them, so you let go of it all. You see a wet towel on a crisp clean bedspread, and you ask yourself “Is this worth picking a fight over”. More often than not, you decide not, and put it out to dry yourself.
Because you no longer sleep in an entanglement of limbs where you don’t know where his ends and yours begin. You cuddle, but sometimes you simply fall asleep side by side, not showing any form of attraction that the media tells you should have. But halfway through the night, one of you searches for the other, and you end up in each other’s warmth, with the subconscious assurance that you are loved. And when you wake up in the morning, and puts up with all the bad breath, non-made-up face and all the grumbles and groans of being dragged out of sleep, you know you love each other – because throughout all that, no matter how annoyed you are, how much you want to hit them with a pillow for one thing or the other – you would not exchange him/her for all the comfort in the world.
I used to buy into all this crap that every little image on tumblr said. But now I realize that they are not true. There is no one form of love. As any living thing, it grows and evolves, and is all the more precious for its unruly nature.
While Pat Rothfuss compared rooms to shoes, I think love follows the same concept. Sure, certain shoes are trendy, certain ones will make your butt look good. But would you want to walk in a pair that kills your calves 24*7 for the rest of your life? You don’t want the fanciest pair, or the biggest pair. It’s not about what is trendy or if it’s the most expensive there is. All you want is a pair of shoes that are comfortable to wear. If you have to wear it everyday for the rest of your days, it would not go amiss to go for a strong, sensible pair of shoes that never really goes out of style or breaks down on you. Just sayin’