“Can I tell you something? I love you.”
A month into my second relationship, he told me he loved me. Despite only being 16, I meant it with my whole heart when I said it back. That relationship lasted 1.5 years, and as consistent as a clock, we said those three words to each other every night. When it ended, I seriously wondered whether I would ever love again. All the movies I watched growing up were about a “one true love” that ended in a happy ever after, and my love had just left. After spending so much time building a relationship full of trust and care, I didn’t think I could ever find anything like it again. But somewhere in my midst of heartbreak, I realized that just because I loved him in one way didn’t mean I couldn’t love other people in a different way.
My best friend was there for me before that relationship, during it, and after. She held me (and laughed at me) when I cried and supported me when I felt lost. My love for her was just as deep as my relationship, deeper even. My relationship with her was so different from any romantic relationship despite being built on the same foundations of trust and support. With her, I could be the worst version of myself and know that she wouldn’t judge me. This love was just as true as the one I had in my relationship, but it was unique.
Since the end of that relationship, I have come to realize that true love comes in many many different forms. True love is when my mom insists I take food from home to college because she’s worried I’m not eating well. True love is when my roommates listen to my rants every night about how my professors have pissed me off. True love is when my best friend and I can bare our soul to each other in one minute and make fun of each other in the next. Each relationship is special in its own way, and it would be an insult to each love to claim it’s not “true”.
A few months after my first love left my life, my second one walked up to me at a party. Any doubts I had about if I would ever love again were quickly swept away as I slowly fell for him, but it was different this time. Our love is slower and more careful, and this difference is so important. It’s helped me realize that I don’t have one true love, I have many unique beautiful loves with many different people. And there is nothing more special than this. I get to learn new things about how to love and who I am through each new person. Through my experiences in love, I’ve realized that love finds you and surrounds you, even if you’re not expecting it. You just have to look carefully.