It’s taken me years to learn that this is a question two people dating need to ask each other. It’s taken me even longer to figure out my own answer. Based on my dating experience, I can probably tell you what it is not – it is not great sex, it is not passionate kisses and giddy phone calls, it is not butterflies in your stomach, it is not innocent and it is not painful. But I – like most people – struggle to articulate what it really is. What is my definition of love?
In my quest for an answer, I’ve been gathering bits of articles and snippets of novels, methodically entering them in my journal trying to piece together an answer. Here’s the snippet that comes closest to my definition:
Together they had overcome the daily incomprehension, the instantaneous hatred, the reciprocal nastiness, and fabulous flashes of glory in the conjugal conspiracy. It was time when they both loved each other best, without hurry or excess, when both were most conscious of and grateful for their incredible victories over adversity. Life would still present them with other moral trials, of course, but that no longer mattered: they were on the other shore. – Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
In my 20s, I idealized love – it was the stuff they made movies of. Marriage was this bliss that resulted from a whirlwind meeting, a dreamy courtship and a recognition of your soulmate. In my 30s, I know better. After exiting a very long relationship – my starter marriage, if you will – I realize that love is not the grand overatures you see in movies. The love that lasts is the love that has strong roots planted in a bed of commonality. Now I know this doesn’t sound terribly romantic to most, but hear me out.
Life happens. Whether you’re married or not, life happens. And you have to get through life. You have to be able to deal with the things that life throws your way. In a marriage, you have to deal with those things together. If there are few common viewpoints, sparse shared opinions and infrequent agreements, then how can you possibly tackle life together?
When I think about the person I want to be with for the rest of my life, I think of a partner in crime. The Robin to my Batman, the Bonnie to My Clyde, the Bert to my Ernie – you get the picture. As you can see, these are not romantic duos – they are strong partnerships that together have super power like success.
I’ll know I am in love when I meet that person with who life seems almost easy. It won’t feel like butterflies in my stomach, but it will be my secret super power.