love in theory vs. love in practice

Love in Theory

Love is unconditional and eternal. Love is durable and resilient.

You treat the ones you love the best because you treasure them the most. You do your best to earn their love day in and day out. You worry about their feelings and you spend the most effort on making them happy.

You ignore misgivings and apologize for the small things because being with them is worth it because they are what gives our lives meaning.

They bring out the best in you and you bring out the best in them.

Love is putting another’s needs, desires, and happiness before your own. Love is the ultimate act of selflessness.

Love in Practice (Sometimes)

You hold your loved ones to the highest standards and cut them the least amount of slack. The people who hurt you, frustrate you, anger you the most are often the people whom you love the most.

Love means never having to say you’re sorry. Love means that when you’re mad at them, you don’t have to hold back.

You bite your tongue with friends and coworkers and strangers, but you don’t bite your tongue with loved ones, because they can handle it. Because they’ve seen worse. Because they’re stuck with you. Because love is unconditional. Because you are beyond pleasantries. Because they are an easy target. Because you want to hurt them the way they’ve hurt you.

Love is a bank where if you withdraw enough funds and treat them bad enough and ruin enough nights, they will stop loving you. People only love people who make them happy.

Love fades away. Excitement becomes dull. Novelty wears off. People stop treasuring love and start taking it for granted.

Love is a Paradox

We are willing to move mountains to win someone’s love, yet we stubbornly refuse to budge an inch during an argument. We will sacrifice everything for those we love, yet we can be resentful our whole lives over a moment of errant insensibility.

Love is a paradox. Love is vowing to treat them the best, only to lead to moments you treat them the worst. Love is trying one’s best, but also being unbridled from the need to try at all.

Saying “I l— you” is regarded as momentous, but I am always skeptical that the speaker really understands the basics of human nature–how the feelings are but the spark of a bulb before potentially burning out forever. 

You are not given love. You are not entitled to love. There is no lifetime pass for love; you have to earn it every day.  Engage.  Try.  Give.  Apologize. 

The idea that love is not susceptible to a rough patch, a bad fight, or a better prospect is reserved for fairy tales and rom coms. We are all selfish animals, and we quickly forget about an intimate past, dwell on a noxious present, and fantasize about a perfect future.


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