I was recently asked by someone if I had ever been in love. When I was forced to admit my honest answer, no, it made me think.
Granted this conversation was after
one three glasses of wine, and Moscato has a sneaky way of making me get just all of the philosophical. I once had a two-hour conversation about the deeper meaning and lessons behind the Monty Python films. Hint: it involved a lot of me talking in a terrible British accent and Spam. I wish I was joking.
I’ve been on this beautiful Earth for almost 30 years now, and I’ve had many incredible life experiences, but what this particular person made me realize was that I’ve never really experienced the feeling of “being in love.”
Sure there was Kody Kremsreiter, my first “love.” We were both five, lived across the street from one another and both had the same obsession with Saturday morning cartoons, The Berenstain Bears and chicken nuggets. In 5th grade, it was Jason Kopp. He shared his War Heads with me on the playground and always picked me first when playing kickball in gym class. Guys, if that isn’t the making of true love, I don’t know what is.
I’d like to say that my dating style improved as I got older, but that was not the case. My middle name is awkward (actually, it’s Joe, but potato poe-tah-toe) and I never aced the whole flirting thing. I still haven’t tbh. I never really had a steady boyfriend. Sure, there were guys who I dated in high school and college and even within the last few years, guys who definitely gave me the butterflies, who I would stay up late talking to on the phone eliciting all the nervous laughs and palm sweats, guys who I thought were “the one.”
But the truth is, I’ve never had that deep down, feel-it-in-your-toes, over the moon, head-over-heels, soul-gripping and down right amazing love feeling. This isn’t to say that these guys weren’t wonderful people. They were incredible! Funny, kind, smart and big-hearted. This also is in no way a rumination seeking sympathy, and it isn’t to reflect on some kind of deprivation. My life has been anything but deprived. In fact, this is just the opposite. It’s the appreciation of how full of love my life has been.
I think what my friend was asking was if I had ever experienced that stereotypical romantic love, the kind of love that makes you reminisce over who said “I love you” first, the kind of love you hear about from grandparents who’ve sustained their relationship for over 50 years, the kind of love that makes you cross continents just to be with someone. No, I’ve never personally been in this kind of love…yet. But just because I’ve never been in love, doesn’t mean I haven’t been surrounded by it.
And when I say I’m surrounded by love, I’m not necessarily referring to seeing friends getting engaged, or sending my parents an anniversary card every year (HI MOM AND DAD!!!). I’m referring to the non-stereotypical, unromantic, and yet completely unconditional love that has helped to make my life complete. I’ve never said those three magic words, “I love you” to an SO, but I have said them to people who I do in fact love, and I think those three words hold just as much meaning whether they’re said romantically or not.
I know without a doubt that this romantic love is indescribably fantastic–I’ve seen it in my grandparents, in my parents, in the relationships that my friends and other family members have. I’m sure that there are others who are both younger and older than me who have never truly had it, but that doesn’t make their life any less complete than those who have. Don’t assume that the absence of romantic love makes the presence of loneliness that much more apparent. I don’t feel empty because I’ve never loved someone romantically, I feel grateful because I have been lucky enough to have loved and be loved in so many other ways.
When romantic love has let me down, unromantic love has been there to pick me up. When a friend understands you better than you understand yourself, that’s love. When a parent endlessly supports your passions even when you question them, that’s love. When your sibling consoles your broken heart even if theirs is hurting too, that’s love. When your dog or cat rushes over to you, tail wagging after a long day, knowing just how to cheer you up with a sloppy lick of the face, that’s love. Y’all, my life is full of love, and while it may not be romantic, it’s whole.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly excited to feel those feels one day. I think anyone would be. Being in love is an amazing thing, it’s one of the things that drives us all.
But until that happens, I will cherish the love I do have in all the different ways it presents itself.