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What I Learned About Love From the Women in My Life

I’ll be honest, I have never been in love, I’ve never even been in an actual romantic relationship. But I am grateful to have so many incredible women in my life who are amazing examples of the type of love I want to experience and express.  

 

As cliche as it sounds, I learned that you can’t love someone else without first loving yourself. When I finally learned to love myself I no longer accepted the bare minimum. I knew I deserved better. There is a confidence you exude when you know and have accepted who you are. The people you form relationships with are additions to your life rather than emotional crutches to rely on.

 

I’ve learned that love is vulnerable, and that vulnerability is a two way street. As much as people could confide in me, I had to learn to be open and honest in turn. It’s a strange feeling, showing so much of yourself to someone else. But it’s incredible when they respond with comfort rather than the expected shame. 

 

I’ve learned that love should not be a battlefield. You shouldn’t have to feel like you are tiptoeing through a forest of explosives, afraid any action will set the person off. You should be able to be honest with the person you love about your feelings of insecurity, anxiety or even jealousy, without fearing that you will scare them away. When you love someone you can’t help but be patient and understanding when they come to you.

 

I’ve learned that love is not about you. That desire in your heart to put someone else’s needs above your own is true love. It’s sacrificial and uncomfortable at first, but when you see how happy it makes them, you can’t help but keep doing it. Honestly, the sacrifices stop feeling like sacrifices when you see how much you make them feel appreciated and valued. Ultimately, their happiness becomes your happiness. 

 

I’ve also learned that choosing to love someone is a daily decision. Everyday you can either choose to build up or tear down a relationship. You get to decide if that argument is worth it, if your pride is worth it. People are not always easy to get along with. We’re all complicated in our own way. It’s what makes love both the hardest thing to do and the most fulfilling.

 

I’ve learned that love wants to give. A generous heart is one of the biggest expressions of love. It doesn’t mean you should go broke trying to prove you love someone. Love isn’t about lavish material gifts. It’s the simple things. The time I give up to answer a call because a friend needs me. It’s travelling hours across the country, on a foul smelling bus because you haven’t seen your best friend in a while. 

 

I’ve learned that love is not perfect. The search for perfection has left me feeling alone and unsatisfied. Our flaws are what make us who we are. The people who truly love me have seen my worse sides and stayed, not because of them but in spite of them. We all have our baggage, but when you love someone you help them carry theirs. Ultimately, love is acceptance. Love understands that not everything goes according to plan, plans fall apart and life can be really messy sometimes. Once I accepted that I was by no means a perfect individual, it was a lot easier to accept the imperfections of others.

 

I’ve learned that love is like an onion, it has layers. When you first get to know someone you present the best side of yourself and they do too. Lust, infatuation, whatever you want to call it, it’s the surface layer. Until you see all the layers of a person you can never really love them. How do you love someone you don’t even know? Love is about going through layers together, growing, learning and sharpening each other through the journey.

 

Lastly, I learned that love is not enough. This lesson I learnt from my mum, seeing her marriage go through many ups and downs through the years. With how much love is idealised, it can be hard to accept that love does not conquer all. Love does not mean someone is right for you. Love cannot replace your self-respect. Love will not solve your deep rooted relationship problems. Sometimes, the best way to love someone is to love yourself a bit more.

 

I learned that soulmates are not always romantic. The women in my life inspire and motivate me in a way that surpasses regular relationships. Because of them I know what it means to love someone and have them truly love you in turn.

Law graduate at DCU.
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