What Love Isn't

Before my senior seminar presentation, I had an amazing talk with a good friend of mine about one of my favorite things: love. If you know me in the least bit, you’ll know just how much I love love. I have never been a pro, per se, in love, but I love love because I am the type of person who loves quite easily. During our conversation, I stumped him by saying that I think my favorite thing about love is that it feels different every time. He looked at me, questioning my sanity. I tried to explain my reasoning using psychology.

Psychologically, we are all led to believe that there are three types of love: passionate, companion, and none at all. Passionate love is that skin-burning, run five miles a day, every song reminds me of you, can’t stop thinking about you (even when you’re sitting right next to me) love. It goes up in flames just as quickly as it falls to ashes. You probably see it the most commonly in RomComs or Young Adult Novels (no shamethey’re a guilty pleasure). Companionate love is based on friendship. You love this individual because they are your best friend. You feel safe and protected. This relationship tends to last the longest. Then there is no love at all. I’m going to give you two past experiences which explain just what I mean.

In my conversation with my friend, I described the different ways I’ve felt when I came across a significant other. This article is dedicated to the individuals who taught me what love was not.

The one person who broke me down like no other crushed my heart not because I was in love with him, but because I was dependent on his presence. That is what made me realize there is a difference between love and dependency. No matter what I threw at him, he did not leave. No matter how many times I said I don’t think I can do a real relationship, he still stayed. Over time, I thought that I was in love with the guy. I’d watch a RomCom and the girl would tell the guy just how “broken” she was, and he would accept her flaws. She would tell him to leave and he’d assume she secretly didn’t want him to, so he’d make a move instead. Happily ever after. The end. However (without getting into much more detail) I’m here to say that’s not always how it works. I also want to say thank you to the man who taught me what love was not. It was not the passionate love, it was the nasty dependency I never thought was possible. Though he himself was a great guyand still iswhat we had was toxic. What we had was like pouring gasoline on a fire.

The second story is quick. We hear this advice constantly: do not settle. After my heart had been beaten to a pulp, I became numb. I entered into a “relationship”I use this term because I was unaware we were in one in the first placewith an individual who did not excite me. It was more along the lines of companionate “like.” We had a few common interests and (because I had absolutely no clue what love really was anymore) I kept seeing him. As you can probably predict: this relationship did not last.

I am not just here to thank my past relationships for teaching me what love was not, but also for giving me the reason to write about it. You may hear in movies all the time that “you know love when you feel it,” but this is not necessarily easy nor helpful. The worst part about love is that it’s retrospective. If you told me I didn’t actually love the guy from my first story while I was with him, I wouldn’t have believed you.

You can read all of the advice in the world about heartbreak, how to heal from it, and how to learn from mistakes. However, reading isn’t always learning. It took me over a year to recognize the lessons I could take from my previous relationshipsand it’s different for everyone.

All in all, I believe the psychologists forgot to mention the most important thing: love is different to everyone. I attempted to describe it to my friend (and failed), so I am going to try and describe it once again. The way someone makes you feel is different ranging from person to person. The love I feel for someone now makes me feel a whole mix of emotions. However, if there is another individual I fall for, then that batch of emotions mixes to create a whole new batch. It’s a chemical concoction that personally I cannot explain, but I do wish everyone to experience it.

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