By Adele Stewart
I have never been in love.
I thought I had when I was 16 years old, but as it turns out, it was just a “first boyfriend” obsession. A phase I quickly worked through when my 18-year-old boyfriend left for college & cheated on me with three other women. Even if it was almost love before, all emotions switched to hate and disgust without hesitation.
I thought I was in love again when I was 19. My college boyfriend was perfect, but not perfect for me. I had confused lust and how much I genuinely cared about him with love.
I desperately wanted to be in love with him. He was so wonderful—kind to me, to my family, to my friends. On some of my worst days, he would show up unannounced to my dorm room with hot Starbucks (a grande caramel apple spice, my fave!) and a kiss. He put up with my confidence, my arrogance and my practically intolerable mood swings. Ladies, this man was perfect.
And yet, I wasn’t in love with him.
We told each other 2 months in that we loved each other, but mine wasn’t the same love he felt. As it turns out, I love anyone who brings the slightest bit of beauty and a hot drink into my life. I loved him for who he was a person, but I wasn’t in love with him.
In fact, as we would lay in each other’s arms every night, I found myself praying for a way to let him go, so we wouldn’t up years down the road hating each other because we had figured out that I was some sort of sociopath. I’d pick arguments just to make him feel anger towards me. After three years, I drove us both beyond the point of crazy. When we had our big, messy break up, I found myself crying every night over the fact that I was losing my best friend, not my lover.
It’s crazy to think that at 25, I haven’t really given my heart to another person, have I?
I guess I just thought that when you fell in love, in blissful, pure, beautiful love, you’d just know. In movies, the actors always make an “I just remembered that I am in love with you” face during their come-to-Jesus moment 10 minutes before the end of the film. In songs there’s a key change; in books there’s a second to last chapter; in texting there’s the emoji with hearts in its eyes, but there’s nothing in reality that represents the feeling of falling love except for actually falling in love.
And I’ve never felt it.
Bear with me, there’s a catch here.
To be honest, I don’t even think I’m ready to fall in love. I see my friends in their wonderful serious relationships, getting their checks picked up at dinner, or flowers delivered to their work, or covering up an awful fight by saying “It’s okay, because I love him,” and I think to myself, how terrible it must feel to know that that’s it. The idea of always having someone around is great in theory, but in practice? It’s not ideal.
I have friends who wanted to have done more with their lives before they committed and now they can’t because those dreams aren’t the same as their significant others’. I have friends who argue constantly with their boyfriends but refuse to breakup because they would also be breaking up with “his family.” I have friends who go on a girls-only getaway and have to check in with their boyfriends every other hour to assure him that they’re having a good time.
Don’t get me wrong, these friends and their significant others are awesome. Most of them I want to constantly third-wheel, but I’m just not into the idea of long-term commitment right now. My heart has never really belonged so much to someone else that the idea of going a second without them would kill me. I like the idea of just going wherever the wind blows. Of being able to pick up and leave whenever I want, or kiss whoever I please on a Friday night outing.
I think the only person I’m comfortable being in love with right now is me, and call me crazy, but I think that that’s okay. Whenever I argue with myself about something, I’m never upset with the fact that I won the argument. I never need to check in with myself, nor do I feel guilty for chatting up three different guys in one evening. I’ve most certainly never considered breaking up with myself, and maybe that’s all the love you ever really need to be in at 25.
And who knows? Maybe after all of this romantic freedom, I will have my own key change, last chapter, heart-eyed, come-to-Jesus moment? Until then, I’ll continue to remind myself that you don’t have to be in love to live, and that a love for me is greater than an infatuation with anyone else.
Adele spent most of her preteen years getting yelled at for writing inappropriate romance shorts in 7th grade math class. At 25 she has lived in one part of Pennsylvania, then another, then another to finally return back to her native land of Erie, Pennsylvania after college. A marketing strategist by day, and local theater actress by night, Adele spends most of her time creating. If she’s not writing tips to get over a bad breakup with, or using humor to recover from a crappy situation, she is just writing to see her thoughts on paper. She enjoys creating lists, but not list posts; drinking a bottle of wine or three; laughing at poorly executed jokes; yelling obscenities at the refs on TV during Pittsburgh Steelers games; and carbs.