Thursday, May 16, 2013
The term to be "in love" with someone sounds almost as if it's a sickness, like you've come down with the flu or some ailment which is clouding your mind and impairing your ability to function normally. And maybe in the case that you've lost yourself in a person, forgotten how to stand on your own, depend completely on their every emotional judgement call for your own well being and emotions--then, maybe it's an appropriate term. For then it is like an illness. You forget who you are and you let go of the parts of you that are most significant in defining you. You change for the other person with a willingness to sacrifice yourself without thought. This is not to say that relationships don't require some collaboration and compromise. But to not question giving yourself completely to someone while losing sight of not only who you are, but love for yourself, then being "in love" really is like having a psychological illness.
But if you love someone somewhere in between. More than you would love a best friend, and yet you haven't lost track of yourself in them. You're not lost, but you're aware of this intense appreciation for the other person. You love them for everything they are. All their faults, all of their talents, all of their successes, all of their failures. You see that they are human and that they will hurt you. You see that they are learning, just like you, and that they are imperfect, just like you. You love them as if you were "in love" with them, but it doesn't feel like you might die without them. You know that you could survive without them, that you are a strong individual who has the ability to be alone and to be okay with that. But you make the choice to invest in this other person's life. To stand by them, to support them, to try to understand them as they continually change, as they hurt you and hurt themselves in an effort at trying to understand life.
And that's what the definition of love really is, or should be. It is the continued effort of trying to understand someone as they are and as they change. It is a mistake to believe that we can understand any one person fully and that once we do, that we can stop trying to learn. Because no one stays the same, everyone evolves and grows. With age and time and experience, people's beliefs and mindsets and attitudes change, even if only slightly. So it only makes sense that loving a person means trying to understand who they are on a continual basis. And it is also this understanding which allows us to continue to love and forgive the other person once things don't quite align anymore. We can continue to appreciate that person even after things fall apart because by trying to understand a person, we are cultivating not only an honest appreciation for one, but an appreciation for human kind.