How It Feels to be Loved

To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.
– Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve been in love two times in my life. Three serious relationships, two where I truly loved my significant other. The first time I fell in love, I was fourteen. At that time, he was my best friend, I had a crush, and a few years down the line, we formed a relationship that stunned most people, and had me believing I had found the man I was going to marry. I was 21, and totally head over heels in every way, shape, and form. I gave him everything, gave him all of me, the entirety of my heart was filled with him, and I walked around in a haze thinking my soul had found its counterpart. I was utterly and completely lovestoned, to say the least. But subconsciously, I always knew that I loved him more than he loved me. In any relationship, love shouldn’t be a competition, but it was in ours. I always felt like I was vying for his attention, even though we had been friends for over 12 years. We bickered and fought, and the relationship I had so longed for turned into a tumultuous rollercoaster that I just couldn’t get off. But like any rollercoaster, the ride came to an end. Heartbreak ensued, and looking back, I know he never truly gave me all of him, we weren’t destined for marriage or a life of happily ever after. A friendship turned relationship turned a distant memory. Because that’s all he is now. A memory. I know the type of man he actually is, I was simply blinded by who I wanted him to be. The beer goggles had been stripped away, and I had found my sobriety.

The second time I really fell in love was last year. It was more cautious, I was far more guarded, and I took every measure possible to ensure what I was feeling was real. To make sure what he was feeling was real. I couldn’t love and not be loved in return again. Hearts really aren’t made to ache like that. But what I was feeling this time was different. I know that’s the cliché people always turn to once they fall in love post-first love, but what I mean is that rather than me doling out all of my love, I was feeling real, genuine love in return. Someone truly valued me – he still values me. We have built an incredible and insanely intimate bond that I hope every couple has. This isn’t just the hopeful romantic in me talking, but studies in neurobiology have been done to show how our brains rewire themselves when we find love. With love comes trust (hopefully), and our brains are fully capable of recognizing when we trust another individual, and because of this, they turn their attention to fine tuning our other abilities such as forgiveness, healing, and perception.

I still remember the exact moment I fell in love that second time. It was November 20, 2012. He had taken me out to lunch at Pastini Pastaria when we were up in Oregon for Thanksgiving. I was bound by scarves and sweaters, and he had adorned himself with a leather jacket that I had picked out for him. That’s my favorite jacket of his. To this day, I still love the way he looks in it. White t-shirt, gray sweater, and that black leather jacket. Only a few months into dating, he still knew me very well. He knew how much I loved to walk around shopping malls during the holidays just to hear the music and see the decorations, he knew how much I loved wandering around in my boots with the rain pouring down, and he knew my favorite dessert was (and is) tiramisu. He had ordered it, and then had left the table for a minute. And that’s when it hit me. I was ridiculously in love with the man that, ten seconds before, had been sitting directly across from me. I even used my fork to etch out the word “I love you” into the cocoa powder on our plate – and then quickly destroyed my message because – yes, I had a full on “girl” moment where I knew I could not and would not be the first to say those three words.

The perfect place to fall in love.

The perfect place to fall in love.

But the thought of saying those words didn’t scare me in the least. Because even though he hadn’t said them (ironically, he would end up telling me he was in love with me later that same day), I have constantly felt so loved being with him.

And ever since the day he told me he loved me, I have relished his love. Basked in it. Maybe even became a little addicted to it. Thanks, Ke$ha. And although I had loved before, this felt so foreign, so new to me. So wonderful. This kind of love. It was selfless, romantic, endearing, and enduring.

The love I have now knows no bounds. It is a cup of tea waiting for me after I take a shower, a foot rub in exchange for a back scratch (apparently some people like that…), an equal sharing of the bag of Sweet and Spicy BBQ SunChips.

But what makes me feel loved most is that he puts me first. I’m not asking to be constantly spoiled, but what is unique about us is that we both put the other first. I know there is plenty of reading material out there that says that you shouldn’t lose yourself in a relationship, you should still do things for you, and I’m all for that, but relationships are also about sacrifice. It’s a give and take, it’s not a scoreboard. He may light candles and ask me to slow dance around his apartment, but he doesn’t expect a blow job in return (not to say I wouldn’t give him one – the physical love we share is important, too). But it’s the selfless acts of love that have made us as a couple so successful.

The man I’m with now – well, he loves me for me. All of me. The good, the bad, the bitchy. He’s never afraid to be vulnerable, he’s more accepting than anyone I know, and he’s also the most understanding man I have ever dated. I consider myself extremely lucky because, as cheesy as it sounds, I legitimately did not believe a person like him existed. Let alone that they would want to build a future with me.

This kind of love is shared beneath blankets, hands held during car rides, and the harmonizing of voices as we sing our favorite songs. It’s him knowing I love pineapple teriyaki sauce and avocados on my turkey burgers, it’s in the way he lets me have all the hot water I need and want when we shower, it’s how he – without fail – makes sure that I get the last bite of ice cream when we split a pint of Starbuck’s Java Chip. It’s how he knows something is wrong even through a text message, his acceptance that sometimes I’ll drool on him when I fall asleep, it’s the way he holds me and looks at me when we make love, and it’s in all the ways that he has shown me that I am good enough. I am great enough. And what we have is more solid than that sword stuck in a stone. He sees me, he knows me, he gets me. And most of all, he goes above and beyond to do more than just say he loves me, he makes sure that I feel it. He’s been doing it ever since that day we sat in that little Italian restaurant, with the rain pouring outside, splitting a plate of delicious tiramisu.

The infamous tiramisu.

The infamous tiramisu.

Comments

  1. I love Liz Gilbert! I preferred Committed over Eat, Pray, Love.

Trackbacks

  1. […] know what? I was happy that I didn’t have anything to compare this love to. It happened over a plate of tiramisu, and suddenly, there was no looking back. Until now. Because now that is all I can do – look […]

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