I've Got Love on the Brain: Five Things I Know for Sure after Five Years in Love
Five years ago, I went on my last first date. I didn’t know at the time it would be. I mean, there I was on a date with a guy I met on a dating site. A light skin, Jamaican guy (two strikes on my “perfect man” checklist). But he spent the evening undoing my reservations. He took me to a comedy club instead of another dinner-and-a-movie first date. Points for originality. He was a perfect gentleman: opening doors, walking on the outside of the sidewalk, and helping me with my coat. Points for broughtupsy. And after an amazing date, he took the bus with me all the way to my house in the boonies to make sure I got home safely. Points for actually giving a crap. And now half a decade later, I’ve had one hell of a roller coaster ride, and countless memories in the bag with that mannerly, spontaneous, Jamaican light skin man.
Here are five things I now know for sure after five years of being in love:
1. Love is a Verb
A lot of us learn about love from Disney’s fairy tales. Love is always presented as a magic potion, an effortless wonderful feeling. But over the last five years, I’ve learned that love is hard work. The feeling alone isn’t enough. Love is a verb. It is the things you do to show your love over and over again and it’s the decision you make to fight for love when your ship hits the rocks.
2. Love is an Evolution
Change is one of life’s few constants. I’m an entirely different person than I was five years ago (thank goodness, 'cause I was a whole mess) and so is my boyfriend. Our love has had to evolve to match our personal growth because what we’ve had to give and what we’ve needed from each other has changed. If a relationship is going to survive all of life’s changes, it has to change and evolve too.
3. Love Hurts
Usually people say this in moments of bitter heartbreak, but love can hurt even in good relationships. Being in love makes you remarkably vulnerable. You hand your heart to someone else and hope like hell they don’t squeeze it or drop it. And sometimes they do because people are imperfect. And sometimes love is painful, not because your lover hurts you, but because they’re hurting, and their pain is your pain. But…
4. Love Heals
I’m not pretending I don’t have issues, but I’m a lot better than I was five years ago and the continuous love and support I get out of my relationship has a lot to do with that. Love helps to heal even the deepest wounds and that’s not some fairy tale magic I’m trying to sell you. Love encourages your body to produce the feel-good hormones oxytocin and dopamine. Science backs it up – love heals.
5. Self-love is Key
The most common financial advice you’ll ever hear is “pay yourself first.” The best relationship advice I could give after 5 years is very similar: love yourself first. Self-love is what allows you to know boundaries. Loving yourself allows you to be able to discern when your love is being reciprocated, when you’re giving more than you can stand to lose, and when you need to ask for more. Loving yourself allows you to say no to the person you love because sometimes you need to and that’s okay.
I’ll leave you with these beautiful words on love from my favourite book: