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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cincinnati chapter.

Love is the whole thing. We are only pieces.

Love. An emotion so common and yet so rare. An emotion that makes you feel like unicorns and rainbows, and an emotion that feels like heartache. All these years I thought of myself as a hopeless romantic, someone who’d find their one and only and live happily ever after. Love for me was magical and everlasting. Love was violins playing in the background, love was time slowing down just a little bit. But love wasn’t a fairy tale. Love was so much more real.

A few days ago, I read somewhere that in one lifespan a person falls in love thrice. For someone who thought that there’s just one person meant for you in the world, that hit me a little too hard. How does someone fall out of love? How do two people madly in love just not love each other anymore? How do we find love again? DO we find love again? How can true love end? Yes, it does end and begin again — with different people, at different times, and for reasons that shape us later. 

Everyone remembers their first love. Looking back at this romance, some of you might feel a little stupid and probably embarrassed. It happens when you are looking for it and want it when you are young and still discovering yourself. This love helps you do exactly that: to test our first ever held beliefs of love. The first love is naive and stupid and mushy and yet so beautiful. It broke my heart to find out that the boy I was so madly in love with didn’t like ice cream or doing homework apparently. But our first love never stops us from loving again. 

Love arrives again. This time, when love does knock, you recognize it better than last time. In this phase of life, we think we are ready for love, and it subsequently bears some of the most important lessons we need in our lives. We learn that we don’t always get the love we deserve, but we learn to identify our self-worth. Regardless of the heartache and deceit, we are not ready to let go of this love, yet. This love also sees us making some of the old mistakes, but we try to make it work through the difficult times. Here we are able to understand the things that would likely satisfy us in a relationship. The second love is the hardest love. This love is heartbreak, this love is realizations, this love is understanding, and this love takes the longest to get over if you ever have to. This is the love that makes you go “I’m never doing this ever again”. But what is love without heartache? No matter how many walls you build around yourself, love will find a way to creep in again, through the smallest crack. 

And what do you know? You’re in love again. This is said to be the most unexpected romance that could happen to us. This love brings the most amount of novelty and surprise to us since it is most distinct from what we have previously seen. This love is at a point when we are most comfortable with ourselves. There’s no power play between the both of you, or control or insecurity. In this love, you both click, and there’s hardly any strain on the efforts you put in to make the relationship work. This love is here to stay. This love is what love was supposed to be.

Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. Your job is to love. 

Anusha is a current contributor for Her Campus Cincinnati.