Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

You Won't Find Love

I remember how it felt like when I was dating without a purpose: figuring out the kind of love I was looking for. It now dawns on me that the whole time, I was going after something I’d never find.

My goal was to find love. Now…I think I know a little better.

I don’t think love can be considered a goal. Having a healthy relationship is a goal. Being a better partner, another.

In movies or books about treasure, there’s usually a map, a compass — some device with clues which guide our protagonist.

A goal is a treasure to be found/accomplished. Others may have done it, and there is some map that guarantees the likelihood of success.

I don’t think ‘love’ is that way. I don’t think it’s possible to search for it.

Especially in another human.

“But if you think true love looks like Romeo and Juliet, you’ll overlook a great relationship that grows slowly”- Derek Sivers

I notice that in the search for a romantic partner, we tend to become optimized versions of ourselves. We imagine the properties that ‘the love of our life’ would want, and we find ways to embody those — or lie about them.

Loves cooking. Works out. Reads books. Loves children. Caring. Loving. Feminist. Dwayne Johnson with Newt Scamander’s heart.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

During courtship, we come across someone who is genuinely attracted to us because of the temporary charisma we give off. This person falls for a temporal facade we created and, using this information, starts building a character checklist.

How long can this mirage last?

How long do I keep groping at the ephemeral traits built out of the need to impress a potential mate?

I hope I am wrong to believe that we all need to get our hearts broken to understand what love is and how it is sustained.

I hope finding a true life partner doesn’t have to be in the wake of a disappointment.

I am newly married. What do I know?

My previous reality has always been filled with stories of incompatibility, lies, or more. I’ve also heard of mutual agreements to not date, friendly break-ups and even turnarounds where a couple that couldn’t stand each other when they initially met, eventually found a strong bond where no one could have imagined.

“Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need. For love, we will climb mountains, cross seas, traverse desert sands and endure untold hardships. Without love, mountains become unclimbable, seas uncrossable, deserts unbearable, and hardship our lot in life” — Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages

How can such a human need be so complex?

How can’t it? Aren’t we essentially complex beings?

Every day that I spend with my wife, I am learning how to love her. Every month that passes, every disagreement we have, every smile I get, every dinner, movie, conversation.

Every. Single. Event.

Even though we made vows, and I traveled miles from my birth country to be with her, we are still learning what it means to love and to love each other.

My guess is that the primary reason love can’t be found is: unless we define what we want, in line we who we are, it’s quite impossible to make the commitment to stay with someone.

This bond must begin with a great degree of self-knowledge. Like Jessica Wildfire, I don’t think this is something that can be achieved in its entirety.

Same as self-awareness.

With enough of both, we can map our life terms and plot a pretty consistent set of parameters to achieve success and happiness on our own terms.

Because that’s what love is, isn’t it?

With a romantic partner, family, job, etc, aren’t we all simply looking to be happy?

I know I am. And I know I am responsible for it, not her, not my job, nothing out of me.

If you don’t know who you are, what you want, where you fit in your own world, do you see how difficult it can be to find those things that compliment your already flawed sense of worth?

If you don’t take responsibility to define the boundaries that matter to you, then the people you choose to be with will inevitably encroach on your values, and this rising resentment easily explodes into fights and eventual break-ups.

And that’s if you don’t end up with an abusive bundle of cells.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I lost when I didn’t communicate effectively when setting these boundaries. Especially at the start of my previous relationships. It never ended well.

A few months ago, my wife and I needed an intervention for my bed-reading and early bird tendencies.

A writer must do these, aye?

It was an uncomfortable conversation.

Can’t she see that I love reading? Can’t she understand that this is important work and that everything takes daily grind?

Doesn’t she know who I am?

But the fact is, it doesn’t matter how I see the world if she isn’t happy about something. I cannot simply assume that she’s wrong and needs to deal with her issues.

When you establish a relationship built on communication and mutual respect, you must take your partner’s views into account especially when you don’t feel like it.

This cannot happen if love is a goal. Because love has its language, and everyone speaks it differently.

Without an intentional sense of empathy and self-awareness, it is hard — if not impossible — to put oneself in our partner’s shoes and see things from their perspective.

We can be very selfish if left to our own devices. Living with someone who is different from us has a way of exposing those selfish and immature tendencies.

It’s impossible to truly love, or be loved when we can’t see things from the other’s perspective.

When watching kids interact with their parents, you can tell which group did the work and reinforced acceptable behavior and which is either too exhausted or barely winging it.

Parenting is hard, and although I look forward to it, I feel nervous whenever I sit with the thought because my wife and I have already established I’d be a stay at home dad.

If I can’t love her right, and be the husband she deserves, what proves I’ll be the team player and father my kids deserve?

Love is hard — not complicated. One should not jump hoops to make another love them. No one would make you happy. Life is not a romantic comedy.

Love is hard because it requires intent, communication, boundaries, and other less ‘love-ing’ efforts.

You don’t find love, she finds you in love with who you are and fits into what you want.

We need to stop searching for love and start being capable of nurturing it — in us, and in those we choose to love.

Yours truly,
A non-relationship expert.

Cameroonian writer and video creator. Featured in LEVEL and P.S. I Love You. I write about building relationships and personal transformation.

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