Do you believe in love?
My immediate response was always: yes, of course I do. I’ve never thought much of the concept. Love? How could I not believe in it? What else drives empathy, care, and humanity? How could I possibly deny the prevalence of such a powerful emotion?
But when asked: love, the romantic kind; the kind that makes butterflies flutter in your stomach, and your heart swell—do you believe in it? Up until this point, I’ve always had a very clear answer: of course. Love definitely exists, so how exactly is this variation any different?
If you know anything about me, you would know how strong of an influence my sister is on my perception of the world. We practically share all the same opinions. On everything. So when she was asked: love, the romantic kind; the kind that makes butterflies flutter in your stomach, and your heart swell—do you believe in it? She promptly replied: no. I was caught completely off guard.
Romantic love does not exist. Excitement exists. Hope exists. But excitement fades, and hope carries forth. And as long as the excitement is selfish, she said, that is not love.
I used to argue that romantic love, in its purest form, was something magical. It might feel a lot like excitement, yes, but it was somehow different. At least in my mind it was; I was an idealist, and that is what I hoped to believe.
I don’t know why I felt that way anymore.
In my 17 years of sheltered life, I have first-handedly seen some of the dangers associated with the misconception of love. Whether it’s a family member staying in an abusive relationship for years until she acknowledged the painstaking truth of her situation and mustered up the courage to leave, or a 6 year-old child shaking, crying in my arms at work in response to the neglect he faces at home, because his parents can’t stop fighting long enough to raise him. The illusion of love that excitement creates blinds one from facing the truth of their situation, which takes a toll on the individual, and others they care about. It’s a toxic cycle, and it’s terrifying. It really is.
Despite witnessing all this, however, I continued to be an idealist.
I saw the impact that these errors in judgment had on these individuals every single day. And every single day, I felt the back of my eyes burn with fury, resentment, and helplessness, while I used every ounce of energy in my body to keep a strong composure for the victims who needed my support. Looking back, I cannot believe how naïve I was. I didn’t notice a pattern, or any sort of flaw in human nature. I brushed these off as rare occurrences, and proceeded to ignore the terrifying reality of vulnerable hope turning into something truly horrific.
But in my 17 years of sheltered life, I have also seen the immense, overwhelming beauty associated with pure, raw love. The kind that drives empathy, care, and humanity. The kind with no complexities, tangents, or any sort of variation. The kind that my father so selflessly demonstrates every single day by being the most hardworking person I know in order to provide for his family, or the kind that allows one of my best friends to feel safe and accepted despite her unconventional sexuality. I have had the privilege of knowing what love feels like, and to be able to reciprocate that very same love.
I believe in the truth and simplicity of love.
I believe in the truth and simplicity of love; not the obsessive kind that quickly transforms into nonchalant ignorance, but the kind that fills an empty space with overwhelming, heart-wrenching emotions merely with the absence of words.
I believe in the truth and simplicity of love; and its ability to make the spines of even the most pompous, conceited souls stiff and rigid in response to the weight it carries.
I believe in the truth and simplicity of love; I believe in the intimacy of human emotion without the presence of superfluous small talk, or the lust that is commonly associated with it.
And maybe, just maybe this is the idealist in me talking, but I believe that despite the danger of misconception and foul experiences, true and simple love will always provide fulfillment and beauty to the lives of others. However, one must fight the human tendency to overcomplicate and overestimate the idea of romantic love, and instead believe that simplicity will be worth the wait.