I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t boy-crazy. My first crush was in preschool. Correction — my first crushes. At the age of three, I was convinced that I was in love with twin boys named Nicholas and James, and I told my mother that I had decided I was going to marry the both of them. The costume I chose to wear that Halloween consisted of a long white dress, tiny high-heeled shoes, and a veil. That’s right — as a three-year-old I went as a bride for Halloween and essentially set back the feminist movement a few years. My intentions were innocent but still, I was already thinking about marriage. As a three-year-old.
Maybe I was desperate for love at that time because I grew up in a household where love between my parents was scarce. I have known that they would eventually get divorced far before any child should even know the term. So for over ten years, I just waited for the day that it would all come crashing down. It wasn’t until I was sixteen that it did end up happening. It was difficult to go through, but by that time, their long-awaited separation almost relieved me. I felt like I could finally take a breath, move on, and stop tip-toeing around the obvious tension.
Despite the lack of love between my parents, I grew up as a highly affectionate person. I was constantly wanting to hug and touch people, always writing the most lovey-dovey poetry you can imagine, and I was dangerously comfortable with telling people how I felt. Especially when it came to telling people I loved them.
So there you have it — the first incredibly ironic thing about me and love. Against all odds, I became probably one of the world’s most hopeless romantics.
To me, it was all about roses and love letters and soliloquies on balconies. I refused to settle for anything less. I desperately desired to live in a different world where you meet one person, fall in love, and — with lack of a better phrase — live happily ever after. Besides disney movies, there really wasn’t any evidence that this could happen in my world, but I still wholeheartedly believed that love was something magical.
I had my first boyfriend when I was thirteen years old. We had grown up together, always secretly pining over the other, and I had very high hopes for our romance. Unfortunately for me, in an age of technology, most of our budding relationship occurred over text. Once it was time to actually speak in person, I was awkward and shy and lived up to every single middle school relationship stereotype. It took months before I could keep a conversation going and even longer to finally kiss him.
My relationship with him was innocent; I was shy and naive. But over time, I found that I had made a dramatic mess of myself, as I obsessively tried to make my fairytale love come true. I depended on him to make me feel good about myself and to fill a certain need I had for that true love to exist. Sadly, I felt so certain that it had to last forever that when it didn’t, I was absolutely and tragically broken. I thought that with a love story like ours, one that could be found in a cheesy teen novel or whimsical romantic comedy, it had to be fate. The story of childhood friends that always loved each other in the back of their minds was timeless and dreamy to the point of being completely illusory — something that I made up in my head.
For months on end after the classy break up text of “so…are we over…?” (not an exaggeration — that was actually the message) flashed across my flip phone’s screen, I was torn apart. I had been so in love with the idea of being in love that I had completely lost who I was. I would lay in my bed and sob for hours, holding on to every depressing Taylor Swift lyric I could find. Not only because I had lost my first boyfriend and one of my best friends, but also because pushed in the back of my mind was the realization that it hadn’t been real. Over the year I had been with him, I had become someone that was unrecognizable. I was a jealous, judgemental, jaded person who slowly ruined her relationships in desperation of keeping that first chance at love alive.
Although those were some of the hardest months of my life, I have never regretted it. He was (and is) a wonderful person and our relationship taught me so much. I had to learn a lot about love and the lack of love at a young age, and more importantly I learned about who I am when it comes to relationships.
It is difficult for me to distinguish love from infatuation.
It is difficult for me to distinguish love from loving the idea of being in love.
And when I do fall in love, or even come across the possibility of love, I fall hard and fast.
I have been in a healthy relationship for over a year and a half now. I’ve slowly discovered that true love doesn’t always have to be chocolates and serenades and romantic makeouts in the rain. Love is spending time with each other’s families, singing in the car to our guiltiest pleasures (*David Archuleta, we’re waiting for your comeback*), and watching Netflix way too often because just being next to each other is the best thing in the world. Love is knowing that I like my ramen half-cooked, making fun of me when I’m fake-angry, and sometimes liking my mother more than me. I’ve learned so much about what it is to truly know a person inside and out and to love every part of that person with every ounce of my being. I’ve also learned that making out in water really isn’t very sexy at all.
Yes, I’m still a hopeless romantic, but I am a reformed one. I still believe in soulmates because I’ve found one of my own. But ironically, going along with the entire purpose of this essay, I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever get married. I believe in love, but I know its limits. I have sat in my room and listened to my mom yell over the phone at my dad about money and lawyers and even about me. I have been reminded every day that marriages often fail. Often being over half.
So there it is. Another ironic thing about me and love. As much as I am the hopeless romantic that I am, I am also constantly questioning something most hopeless romantics dream about.
Anyway, I guess it doesn’t really matter at this point because the possibility of marriage is still about ten or more years away. It’s funny how you can get a glimpse of my obsession with romance solely from the fact that I’ve given this all so much thought…Honestly, who am I kidding? I’ll most likely get married someday. In the end, I do truly believe in love. There are days — especially when I spend them sitting in my bed and trying to tune out the yelling between my parents — that I do question marriage and the “happily ever after” that I’ve always searched for. There are also days when I look around and see love everywhere and wonder why I would ever consider not getting married. In the end, I will always be the little wide-eyed, three year-old girl who went from door to door dressed in white. I will always believe that love can be magical. And although I can be pessimistic and cynical and overly-concerned about marriage and love, I will always be ironically and hopelessly love’s biggest fan.