I’ll admit it, I’ve had love on the brain for the past couple of weeks. Who would have thought?! ;) I’ve just returned from a trip from LA, which most wouldn't exactly associate with being a city of love, but I think just taking some out and seeing things from a different perspective (oh, and visiting the Museum of Broken Relationships - more on that soon!) had me thinking about all things love and life.
I write so much about love not working out that it’s easy to slip into a more cynical mindset without even realising. Actually, that’s not strictly true. I am the eternal optimist when it comes to love and that has certainly been the case since coming through my last big breakup. But I think even I get so focused on the down sides to love sometimes. I’m a pro at helping people or writing about the fallout of a breakup and the whole getting back on your feet part but I’ve realised that I don’t write or talk too much about the other parts! And this has possibly filtered into how I approach love as an individual too - I was recently told that I have ‘romantic angst’! What?! I’ve never even heard that phrase before let alone ever considering it to be something I have. And to be fair, it’s on the somewhat more dramatic side and definitely delivered with a heavy dose of humour….but interesting nonetheless! On reflection, I think it’s probably more accurate to say I’ve leaned a little too heavy on the practical side when it comes to love.
The thing is though, without love what is there? Why do so many love songs, stories, films, plays, poems exist? Well, love is the one thing that’s universal, it’s timeless and it never goes in and out of fashion. It’s constant. Yet it’s so easy to edge away from it, particularly after a bad breakup, heartbreak or totally sh***y experience.
It’s hard to know where the parameters lie between letting yourself get caught up in the love whirlwind and sticking to your boundaries. But it can be done. What you learn by going through a breakup and heartbreak, you don’t have to use as a shield. You can use it as like a kind of inner alert system for sure - it will help you spot and act on red flags sooner, it will give you more self awareness of your own habits that might not have served you so well in past relationships or led to getting your heart broken and it will help you choose people that will be a better fit for you. Using it this way makes it even more easy to be open to love again.
Seriously, when you have your own stuff in check and know what you will and won’t put up with and what you want, it makes the love territory a lot less daunting. Sure, heartbreak can still happen. But that comes with far more adventures, learnings, stories and growth than staying coccooned in fear.
Being in love is the thing that means everything. Yep, it can drive us nuts, cause tears, heartbreak, arguments and make us question everything we believe. It can leave us feeling rejected, kick our egos down and leave us feeling so despondent swiping on Tinder night after night to no avail. But when we fixate on all of that negative stuff in pursuit of protection, we completely deny ourselves the chance of incredible happiness. And our own love stories.
It’s also easy to be scared of being in love or falling in love. We can talk ourselves out of it to protect our heart and ego. But why does it have to be all or nothing? Making a decision to go with the flow (but with our awareness in check!) doesn’t mean making the decision to be with that person for the rest of our lives. I think that’s why we tread so carefully because we see each person as potentially the last we’ll be with. That’s sooooo much pressure and completely strips the fun and spark out of the whole journey!
Relationships often end. Many will stick too. That’s just the way it is. We can never really know for sure. But if your relationship does end, it doesn’t mean you’re inadequate, it doesn’t make it any less valuable and and it certainly doesn’t mean it was a failure.
I say this so often but every relationship - good or bad, and every heartbreak, makes us more well-rounded, more resilient, more aware, more creative and more transformed. Overprotecting ourselves dampens our spirit, curiosity and sense of adventure.
So whether you’re head over heels in love, have that giddy/butterfly feeling at the start of something or single and nervous about what the future holds, take the time to be grateful for it! Lead with curiosity! As long as you have your boundaries in place, listen to your gut feeling/intuition and keep that inner alert switched on there’s no reason to not celebrate the feeling. Whether it lasts a moment or a lifetime, it’s one to be cherished.
I hope this doesn’t come across as too preachy because it’s kind of a note to myself as well as to you all ;)