Wherever we may go or whatever we may do, we’re bound to encounter the subject of love and relationships. Whether it be the illustrious love songs perpetually playing on the radio, the regular re-runs of Love Actually on various channels this holiday season or the congested array of advertisements for gifts for lovers sprawled across every corner of every mall right now—the idea of a relationship is always placed at the centre of our attention.
Although relationships are a quintessential aspect of our lives, I sometimes feel that all these idealized images and saccharine stories of love, often create the expectation that one should try and find a relationship. And because many people have literally grown up surrounded by all these images and movies and books and songs about true love and soulmates and happy endings, I think a lot of people are actually in love with the idea of being in love.
When people are in love with the idea of love, they’ll inevitably work to be loved and tirelessly search to find love—often finding themselves alone again no matter how many times they’ve put themselves out there. And when we are in love with the idea of love, I find that we often mistakenly start liking the idea of someone rather than liking them for who they really are.
Many people just forcefully enter into relationships because they don’t like the idea of being alone—they just like the idea of having a partner. Even if their partner is incompatible, doesn’t really bring them happiness or is even hurting them, they’ll stay with them despite the lack of fulfillment simply because the idea appeals over the reality. We’d rather wear a fake smile than be unloved.
I think there’s also times where we may love someone (or think we love them) because of more material qualities such as their status, their success or their appearance or their general surface appeal. When I’ve been in this position, I found myself over-looking another individual’s very negative qualities and how they were harming me because the idea of being with someone who was great on the surface—and the false happiness that that idea brought—kept me from seeing how I really felt. I actually didn’t really know them very well and couldn’t think of what I liked about them other than what I saw on the surface. It was shallow, draining and the feelings I felt were not genuine and were comparable to the momentary pleasure that a daydream brings. It was the allure and the idea of being with them that created the sense of longing for them—not love.
Now, this is not to say that this ‘true love’ that we’ve been told about is a mere fallacy. Because it definitely exists. It’s just a matter of not settling for the idea of someone and hurting ourselves over and over again for some false sense of happiness. It may take months or maybe even years but, eventually, there will come a time where you will cross paths with the right person. And it won’t be someone you expect or who fits your ‘type’ or any silly pre-conceived ‘standards’ you’ve had before.
This person won’t be the one that you or anyone else has idealized. They’ll just be someone that you suddenly find yourself talking to for hours. They’ll be an ordinary person who brings about extraordinary changes in your life within a few fleeting moments. This person will bring attention to everything that’s been holding you back, tear down your walls and then bring out and unveil the best in you—even the parts you’ve forgotten or tried to hide away. And you won’t just like the idea of them—you’ll love them for their uniqueness and for all the awkward quirks and strange idiosyncrasies that make them who they are.
Unlike the passive and momentarily pleasant daydream of liking the mere idea of someone, when you’re with the right person, you’ll be more awake than ever before. These connections may be difficult to find and hard to come across but they do exist and they’re very, very real. Until you find that connection, stop searching for a relationship and stop liking the idea of being with someone. You owe it to yourself to stop wasting so much time and investing so much emotion simply because you don’t want to be alone. And if you haven’t learnt to be alone yet, then maybe you’re not quite ready for a relationship anyways. After all, you need to find yourself before you can find someone else.
For now, start focusing on yourself and finding and doing the things you love. For when we’re so caught up in doing the things and going to the places that we love, then the people who we love and the people who will love us back will show up in our lives. Keep your head down and keep working on yourself, because one day you’ll look up and the right person will be there to surprise you when you least expect it. Don’t be put down by the uncertainty of the present; be excited by the promise of what’s to come.