That’s not too hard to find, is it?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what its like to be in love with someone.
I’m in my early 40s and until recently, I have never been in love. Growing up, I remember several crushes on boys that never materialized into anything. I would fantasize about kissing them and walking around the mall holding hands, but more often than not, those boys had no interest in me. At that age, it was all so dramatic and heartwrenching and my friends and I thought it was love. The butterflies at seeing them in class, at the dance, or when they would ask us to prom and treat us like princesses. It was engulfing and could completely overwhelm everything else in our lives. It also felt so innocent. We had no context to compare our feelings and being immature, we didn’t know how to see the red flags.We couldn’t think about it logically or with any form of clarity. Either he liked us or he didn’t know we existed. The former would make us giddy, joyful and exhuberant. The latter, however, was day in and day out frustration knowing he couldn’t see us and our beautiful hearts.
John Hughes had it right in the movie Sixteen Candles when Molly Ringwald’s dad explained how crushes got their name–because having unrequited feelings for someone can crush the heart.
As we got older and dating became the norm, relationships got longer, and emotions got deeper. But did that mean it was love? Maybe, but looking back on my relationships, I was never truly “in love” with any of them. I loved my boyfriends, but something always held me back. This went on through my early 30s. I just couldn’t picture spending my life with them.
Was I looking for those feelings I had when I was younger?
Now, as a grown woman in middle age, I’ve come to realize my heart just knew those boyfriends weren’t right for me. I’m extremely independent, so marriage and family was never a huge priority for me. I always just assumed I probably would never fall in love and I was okay with that. It had been years since my heart really skipped a beat for someone. I also would pick men I knew could never go to the next level in a relationship. Whether it was emotional baggage, issues, or simply distance. I could easily self sabotage. I didn’t have to fall in love. Easy. Simple. No crushing of the heart.
Now, being older and more mature and in love, I look at it all so differently. Being in love means finding someone who makes me laugh, someone who is a gentleman and knows how to treat a lady. It means someone who is stable, yet spontaneous and adventurous. At my age, he will probably be a good dad and can make his children a priority but not forget about me. He doesn’t have to be ruggedly handsome or rich, he just needs to WANT to fit me into his life and love me the best he can and understand I will love him just as much. Confidence is a good thing as well.
Unfortunately, being in love for the first time hasn’t been all puppies and kittens. It took me a long time to admit I am in love. I didn’t really see it at first but I realize now how much I miss him when we’re not together. I love the stories about his past and hearing about the trouble he’d get in. I love how he beams about his girls when he talks about their activities and accomplishments. I feel so important when he comes to me for advice or he makes me dinner. My favorite is how we laugh and laugh over the silliest of things and how comfortable I feel with him when we are together on a roadtrip.
However, what is HIS version of falling in love? I don’t know. Feeling those butterflies and fireworks like he felt for a girl in college? Wanting a relationship based on looks or intelligence–someone younger, prettier, skinnier, or smarter? I’m not sure he even sees the real me. He has a version of me in his head that is only a sliver of who I am. Yes, I’m a girly girl…but I also LOVE to camp, play sports, get dirty with projects around the house or yard, hike, etc. My life isn’t ALL about shoe shopping and laying out at the beach. When I think about his version of me, I sort of cringe because I feel its a shallow and fluffy version and most definitely NOT the real me.
So when I think about falling in love, it feels fairly similar to the crushes I had as a teenager or college girl. Even though we are older and more mature, its something unrequited once again and heartwrenching. Having a crush at this age is not what I want or need…I need love to be fullfilling and fun, grounded and happy, intimate and real.