As I was writing a Valentine’s Day-themed post for my blog, I was scanning the Internet looking for some good love quotes. I found a lot of this: “Come live in my heart and pay no rent.” It was good, metaphoric and all, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. Then I found this from Dr. Joyce Brothers, “The best proof of love is trust.” I definitely agree with that one. But I was looking for something else. Then I found this from one of Jennifer Weiner’s books, “There’s all kinds of love in the world, and not all of it looks like the stuff in greeting cards.”
Yes. That quote jumped out at me and I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the past few days. To me this says a few different things, all of which are importat to remember.
1.) A relationship is not always cute and Hallmark-worthy: Things get messy. You fight and get annoyed with the other person and you have to work through issues. You spend a long time having discussions about your feelings. It’s not all full of Notebook-esque makeouts in the rain complete with cute accents and lady-like dresses. Nope. Real, 3D, 21st century love is a lot of work. But it’s also full of times when you’re traveling to fun places together, giving the other person advice, just making each other laugh, or picking up a new hobby. The point is that while it’s not all pretty little moments, the hard work is worth it.
2.) It’s not all about a significant other: When you’re a female in your late teens or twenties this is easy to forget. It seems like everyone wants to ask you about your relationship status, which makes you feel even more out of place if you’re not in a one. Then when you graduate college, people want to ask you why you’re not married or when you do plan to get married. But this quote is a reminder that, even around Valentine’s Day, it’s not all about being single or taken. It’s important to have other sources of love in your life no matter what relationship status category you’d fall under. Life just feels better when you have a hobby, a pet, a best friend, a family member, a workout routine, or other things to love. You bring more to a relationship when you have lots of depth and dimension in your life. And for single people, you’re much more dynamic and intriguing to a potential new significant other when you’ve got a lot going on to talk about. No one wants to sit through a painful first date with a person who can only talk about one thing and answers “I don’t know” to every question. That won’t be you when you’ve got lots of hobbies, people you love, and things you want to accomplish.
3.) There are no universal love rules: I wrote this post on my blog about the freakout I had over my boyfriend’s Valentine’s Day present (it was an electric blanket). I had told my friends and co-workers what I bought him. Everyone thought the idea was “meh” at best. They either thought it was boring, weird, or not very romantic. I was panicking that he would hate this present and it would ruin Valentine’s Day. Stupid, I know. Not all about the present, I know. But I wanted him to love it and love my idea. It turns out that he does. It was a great gift. Is it super flashy or sexy? Not really. But it’s practical and warm and cozy. It’s nice for our cold apartment, and useful for when he wants to sit on the couch on Sunday and play Madden all day. This is just one example of a time when others’ opinions are interesting but not always correct. There are many others. The point is this: What you think is great, another couple or person might find weird, boring, stupid, ugly, etc. What doesn’t work for you as a couple might be perfect for another couple. Stop trying to figure out what “reality” is, because there’s no such thing. You and your partner have to create your own reality together based on what works for you two and nothing/no one else. If a weird gift works for you, great. Who cares what other people think. If a strange tradition makes you happy, go for it. That’s why you’re dating each other.
The next time you’re watching a chick flick and thinking “UGH! Where is my Noah?” or possibly, “UGH! Noah would never do that thing I ask him not to do over and over” remember Ms. Weiner’s quote. Real love is not found in greeting cards. It’s messy and changes from day to day and it’s not just about a boyfriend or a girlfriend. And Ali and Noah had their ups and downs too. It’s part of being a human.