I have a sister that is 10 years older than I am. We have always been super close, despite the age gap. She gets me out of my sticky situations and always has good advice. My awkward pre-teen-self admired her and was jealous when she had a boyfriend. I thought that she was so cool and so lucky to be in love. Now that I am older, I realize that dating is not all it’s cracked up to be. Until it is.
The first time I met him was over Skype during Christmas break. My sister introduced us to him and we teased him about his southern accent. I caught a glimpse of their messages afterward. He kept calling her beautiful and saying how excited he was to see her again. They had known each other less than a month at this point. I longed to have someone admire me that way.
He came to my basketball games and school plays and dealt with my prepubescent need for attention from my sister. When my first boyfriend broke up with me, he was there. My sister tried to soothe my devastated heart. My sister advocated “Ask yourself if he would treat me that way. If the answer is no, then let him go.”
The moment I fell in love with him was also the moment that my heart broke. This time it was not because of a teenage boy. My heart broke for the same reason my sister and I have such a strong relationship; shared pain. A complicated family situation traumatized us but strengthened our relationship. This isn’t about the power of sisterly relationships. This is about unconditional love. When things were at the very worst for my sister and my family, he could have left. He didn’t. He took on me and my sister and all of our baggage. It was then that I saw what love was. It wasn’t the sweet texts he sent her or the romantic gestures or the subtle public displays of affection. He loved her in moments when the world came crashing down and it seemed that there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
I fell in love with him because he is a role model. He shows me what I should expect of a man. He makes laugh until I cry and helps me with my homework. He deals with us screeching Taylor Swift songs in the car and makes fun of us for it later. I have genuine fun when I am with him. He gives me boy advice and takes endless pictures with us until we get just the right one.
But most of all, I fell in love with the way he fell in love with her.