The Ever-Changing Definition Of Love
A take on how your definition of love evolves as you grow older.
The Magic and Madness of Young Love
When you are young, love is everything. All you ask for, all you desperately hope to be granted, is more time to spend with your lover. Everything else fades in comparison: friends, studies, parents, school, hobbies: they are all secondary, and the shining, scintillating epicentre of your life is love.
You give up everything that occupied your time, because now that you have love, what else could you possibly need?
There are no boundaries, no definitions. I end where you begin. There is no ‘I’ without ‘you’. You complete me.
Love tastes like unbridled happiness: it can overcome everything else. There is a certainty that this is going to be forever, that there is nothing holding the two of you back.
The concept of compatibility doesn’t exist, because love conquers all. You would either succeed in love or let it consume you.
You feel so possessive for your lover that it hurts physically if they talk to someone of the opposite gender. You feel the need to mark your territory, to claim them for your own. After all, they alone can make you happy, so they should treat this privilege with extra care.
The Inevitability of Heartbreak
Young love is giddy. It is glorious. It is imprudent and impetuous. Unruly and impulsive.
It is more dream than life, more glory than certainty, more fire than stability.
It is made of delicate hopes and the knowledge that this person, this wonderful, gorgeous person is the answer to everything you ever wanted.
But, it doesn’t last.
When the heartbreak comes, it shatters you. The castle you’ve so lovingly built comes cascading down.
It takes your world and turns it inside out, leaving you reeling with pain, clutching helplessly at the debris of what once was. You are a mess: crying, sobbing, begging for it all to come back.
And you are broken. You are in so much pain, you feel it would be easier to die than endure this. You know you will never love anyone as much again. You know the one person who held the key to your happiness is gone, and you will never smile.
You will never again be whole.
Which is, in part, true. Because every failed love takes with it a part of your soul, your heart. Every lover leaves an indelible impact on your consciousness that shapes you and grinds life lessons into you.
The Lessons Learned and The Second Chance
Existing without them is hard, but you take it one day at a time.
You breathe. You learn. You grow.
And slowly, step by painful step, you find a way to crawl out of this abyss of self-pity you’d found yourself drowning in. It isn’t easy, but you make it.
The memories are intact, but they no longer make you cry. Thinking about them doesn’t feel as if your heart will burst into two. You are still broken, but the void inside you is no longer there.
You are whole.
You know this isn’t the end, that one day, you will find love again.
The next time around, things are going to be different.
Adult relationships aren’t as all-consuming as young love is. Because of the hurdles you have crossed, because of the mistakes you have made and the lessons you have learned, you understand that love isn’t the solution. It isn’t a salve to soothe your pain, nor is it the missing puzzle piece that will fit in miraculously and complete you.
The Meaning of Love to An Adult
Adult love, as you have now come to realise, is beyond all that. It is a journey — changing shapes with every bend in the road, teaching you new lessons every day.
You understand that you and your partner are individuals; that it is your unique idiosyncrasies that make your relationship interesting. You know that you don’t need your partner to be complete.
You are, on your own, a happy, self-sufficient individual.
You learn to draw boundaries, to make peace with the fact that restricting your partner isn’t the only way of caring for them.
Your love is no longer a cage, but a home.
Love as you now know it, isn’t made of fire. It doesn’t burn you, rather, it leaves your soul satisfied. There is no longer the constant need to monitor your lover’s actions or to torture yourself over something trivial they might have done.
This love, too, can end just as abruptly. But this time around, you are better equipped for the heartbreak.
Of course, this doesn’t make the fall any easier, but at least, as an adult, you know the pain would not last forever.
You know that a failed love doesn’t define you. It is something you encountered in your journey and have now moved past.
As you grow older, you understand that heartbreak isn’t necessarily a burden you have to carry all your life. You can feel its pang, live through the pain, and outgrow it, just like your outgrew love.
After all, like Haruki Murakami famously said
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.