There are very few emotional things in life worse than having the person you love tell you they are in love with someone else.
One those things is having the person you love tell you that not only are they in love with someone else, but they had been in love with them while you were together.
This happened to me today.
As I sat and pondered the ramifications of this, my mind was reeling. I couldn’t even form full sentences. I couldn’t understand what I was feeling, what was going on, what had happened, what I was supposed to do…
Then my mind finally settled and I was left with one, solitary question:
What kind of idiot could be in love with someone who had never loved them back?
The answer is simple: The kind of idiot who doesn’t even know what love is. Those idiots, I am sorry to say, are usually the diehard romantics. They watch love, they study love, they dream of love, and they attach certain emotions, attitudes, and gestures to the feeling, and then wait for the signs. If enough of them appear, then BOOM, okay, you must be in love.
*Cue loud buzzer noise* I’m sorry, you’re wrong.
Truth is, while I am one of the most idealistic and romantic people that I know, I have no freakin’ clue what being in love feels like. I know for a fact that I have mistaken it for strong lust, fear of loss, and great companionship before, so wasn’t it possible that I had also completely misinterpreted my feelings for said person who had clearly never been in love with me? I mean, you have to be pretty dense to think you’re in a mutually loving relationship when you’re, like, not in one…
When we stopped seeing each other, I harbored a secret belief that we would one day end up together. This was a belief strengthened by a constantly reoccurring loop of our relationship that came and went with the seasons. Over the years, we would chat consistently, see each other occasionally, and I thought of him often.
It wasn’t until he finally confessed he had been in love with another during our time together that it occurred to me that while he had been a constant presence in my life, I was merely a passing thought in his. He would reach out on the rare occasion that he was reminded of me, and I would misinterpret the gesture as a sign of things to come. After we finished talking, I would mull over our conversations for days after, while he would continue on with his life without a nod to my existence.
So, again, I had to ask myself:
What the hell had I been doing to completely miss the fact that this person never was, and never would be, in love with me?
And this, my friends, is where being a diehard romantic is a terrible, terrible thing. I can honestly say, looking back on my life, that I have never been in love, but I allowed myself to feel the pain and sorrow that comes from it nonetheless. Stupid.
Sounds vaguely masochistic, doesn’t it?
I mean, why voluntarily put yourself through all of that, when you could avoid all of that just by managing your expectations?
Ah, there’s the key: MANAGING YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Romantics aren’t so good at this. It runs counter intuitive to our nature, but parallel to basic human nature. Managing your expectations is sort of like finding the fine line between closing off your heart completely from love, and falling for every Tom, Dick, and Harry that blows your mind in the bedroom, knows when to drop off Chipotle at your job, and makes your parents laugh with his witty repartee.
Slow your roll, breathe, and relax. The less you worry about your romantic future, the less pain you’ll cause yourself and the more fun you’ll have. See how that goes? Less romantic thoughts = less pain + more fun. Tis exciting, no? No need to rush everything.
Besides, your biological clock doesn’t really start ticking until you pass 35.