There are hundreds of quotes about love—thousands, even. From a young age, we’re taught the magic of love through movies, songs, and examples in our own lives. Love, they all say, is the greatest thing around. But if you could do it all again, if you could start all over, what would you tell your future self about love?
I’ve had heartbreak and loneliness. I’ve had love and laughter. I thought I was in love, and I thought I was loved. But through it all, I wish I would’ve known these five things about love:
1. Love is not just one thing
I’ve read so many articles that describe love. It’s a feeling, no wait, it’s a verb. It’s an action. It’s universal, but so intimate. Well, which one is it?
Love is not just one singular thing: love, really, is what you make it to be. We can love a slice of pizza in one way and love our family in a totally different way.
2. You can’t just ask for it—you have to go get it
So many people tell me, “Love will hit you. Just wait for it. Let love find you.” And for a while, that’s what happened. I sat around, waiting for the right person to walk into my life. But the secret is simple: you have to try. You have to want it. Sometimes fate makes things happen, but most of the time, you make things happen. Love may find you randomly, but if you’re looking for love, it’ll look for you too.
3. Love isn’t like the movies
Yes, love can be similar to what you see on the silver screen, but most of the time, it’s not. You won’t be gliding down a river in a rowboat, confessing your love in the pouring rain, or slow dancing in the middle of the street. Don’t expect every man you meet to immediately flirt with you and start your courtship. Real love is jumbled and messy, imperfect and not-so-polished.
4. You can love someone and not be right for them
Maybe you both love each other. Maybe something isn’t clicking. I wish I had known that I could love a lot of people, but that didn’t mean it was “the one.” We meet and date so many different personalities, and yes, you can fall in love many times. The real lesson is learning when to walk away and wait for the person you can be your real self with. And love won’t always solve all of your problems. You have to be their true friend first.
5. Before you can love anyone, you have to love yourself
This is perhaps the most important thing I wish I knew about love. When you have that feeling of self-worth, nothing can stop you. You won’t beat yourself up when you’re alone on a Friday night. You’ll start doing the things you’ve always wanted to do. Really get to know yourself, and you’ll get to know the things you want in your better half. Once I loved who I was, I was able to forget about being lonely and enjoy growing and learning.
The bumps and breakups were all part of love’s journey. And love wants to be in your life—it is not deceitful or malicious. Love is life’s purest, richest, deepest emotion that each person deserves to feel. Whether it’s a parent, spouse, next door neighbor, friend, sibling, or stranger, your love deserves to be felt, and you deserve to find the love you truly need.