We are inundated with millions of messages saying what real love should look like, feel like, act like. Turn on the computer, scroll through your newsfeed, browse through images, read booksthe idea is everywherethat true love should behave or be presented a certain way.
We fall victim to these words and images because they pull at our heartstrings. They remind us of what we deserve. They carry the heaviness of what weve lost. They inspire us to search for better. They keep us grounded when were feeling lonely. They empower us to keep looking for love in its greatest form.
What if love looks different for all of us? Based on our individual experiences and situations and people we entangle with? What if love isnt simply summed up in a two-sentence graphic, in an image of couple holding hands, in a 4 x 4 pixelated screen?
What if real love isnt about determining a perfect person, or meeting the one by a certain time, or discovering someone who totally changes himself/ herself to be the person you need? What if thats all total crap? What if youre actually missing out on real love by believing these silly lies we take to heart because theyre in pretty script or powerful language or bright colors?
Real love is messy. Its hard. Its difficult. Its complicated. Its heavy. Its not being asked to change who you are for someone. Its not asking someone to change him/ herself for you. Its not easy. But its still beautiful.
We read so many messages about people changing, and how the one wont have to change because theyre perfectly right for you, or about how that person change, you.
But the one thing we forget is that as humans we are continually changing. And this isnt a bad thing. The person you fall in love with wont bide that same, static someone for the rest of his or their own lives. Youre going to grow together; youre going to grow apart. Theyre going to form opinions and have ideas and you are too, and the challenge and excitement of love is learning how to change, sometimes in different directions, but still shift together, as a whole.
But never in that change should it be about you. Simply as your growth shouldnt be about anyone but yourself .
Love is not asking people to change. Its not about discovering someone who has changed, will change, or is changed enough to be perfect for you. And the reverse is true; someone who loves you shouldnt demand that you be a different person in order for the relationship to work. You shouldnt were needed to shift yourself on behalf of someones impressions, perspectives, or affection towards you.
You should change , not because youre being asked or because someone else thinks its good for the relationship, but because you, inside yourself, wish to be different.
There are so many things we read about she changed for him, or he became a better man for her, etc. but these messages are damaging. Theyre is recommended that who the person was before, was not enough. Theyre implying that one person in the relationship was the fixer and the one who changed needed to be fixed.
And thats not how real love works.
Love is not a power play , not roles and dynamics and shoes you must fill. You dont need to become something better simply to have people affection, even if the other persons intents are pure. And you cant induce someone change for your reasons, or even the right reasonsan individual changes because he or she wants to. Not for you.
For some reason weve been led to believe that real love is about an imperfect person becoming perfect for someone else. A player changing his routes. A broken girl becoming whole. Two people learning fixing and mending one another. But thats not real, or love .
Love is not about fixing because as people we are covered in cracks and flaws and will never be fully fixed, especially by another person. Love isnt about using someone to fill the empty spaces. Its not about relying on someone else for the healing you must do yourself. And its not about trying to build someone become something different, something better for you because you feel you deserve that.
Sometimes people need to find their way on their own, and perhaps the timing isnt right. Perhaps they need to find themselves. Perhaps you need to seek your own answers. Perhaps you have to stop expressed his belief that love appears and acts and feelings a certain way.
Love isnt perfection. It isnt two people requesting each other to change so that suddenly everything induces sense. Love is complicated and chaotic and authentic and flawed and strange and wonderful.
And its about time we stopped taking in the words of the world and started making our own definitions, simply on the basis of the route we mess up, the style we change together, the style we learn and grow as we move through every day. Imperfect, raw, and real.
Marisa Donnelly is a poet and author of the book,, available here.
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