On the Obsession With Falling In Love

L is for the way you look at me.
O is for the only one I see.
V is very, very extraordinary.
E is even more than anyone that you adore.

And love is all that I can give to you.
Love is more than just a game for two.
Two in love can make it.
Take my heart, but please don’t break it.
Love was made for me and you.

The first time I ever had a crush on a boy was in kindergarten. His name was Matt, and he had bright blue eyes and a bleach blonde bowl cut. He had freckles and pink lips and a raspy voice for a child. He was a dreamboat, and I was in love.

I remember sitting across the table from Matt in 3rd grade social studies. Our friend Ben always joked around with me because he knew I had a crush on Matt when we were younger. One day, Ben leaned over to me and said, “You know, Matt likes you too.”

“Really?” I asked, with a twinkle in my eye and a tinge of red in my cheeks.

“Yep,” Ben replied, “He’s liked you since kindergarten.”

That brief conversation that I had in third grade has impacted my life more than I ever would’ve thought. And to have such a meaningful conversation at the ripe age of eight and on the brink of love for the first time (if we’re not including Barney and also my religion teacher from St. Matthew’s Church).

Growing up, I had crushes on boys, but I never really knew what to do with it. I say that as if I’m a dating veteran (I’m not). I knew what it was to like a boy, and I knew what it was to have butterflies around a boy, but that’s pretty much it.

I was sixteen before I had my first boyfriend and first kiss, both of which were very mundane (apologies if you find yourself reading this, boyfriend #1). It lasted a solid three months before I peaced out and moved onto boyfriend #2, which was a high school relationship of two years and was very much that. High school. After that one ended in Lakeside Mall while shopping at Forever 21 with my friend Elyssa (true story), I told myself I was swearing off men for awhile… because, at that point, I had soooo much experience dating. I’m rolling my eyes at myself right now just thinking about it. My Lysistrata-ness came to a screeching halt one day in Acting II, sophomore year of college, when I met boyfriend #3, who I owe the credit to for introducing me to what I have come to know as real love and a partner and best friend (#3, if you’re reading this, thank you).

Boyfriend #3 and I were together for 3 1/2 years, two of those being beautiful and loving and Godly and everything a relationship (that I knew of, at least) should be. Things started changing as I neared the end of my senior year of college, and a year or so after that, we broke up in my car in the parking lot of our neighborhood Walgreens. Another true story.

There wasn’t any screaming.

There weren’t any hateful comments.

The only thing that filled the car was an overflow of tears and love and an understanding that, as much as we hoped it would work, it wouldn’t. We wanted different things. We evolved into different beings. And that was okay.

Since that relationship ended, it’s been almost a year exactly, I have learned a lot about myself as an individual. I’ve come to know who I am to my core, and I’ve also come to know the more superficial desires of my heart. The superficial desires, the ones we tend to recognize first and the ones that make us feel like we’re in love after two weeks of knowing someone, are usually fleeting.

They come.

And then they go.

To my core, I am a woman who is in love with the idea of being in love. I’m still figuring out if it’s being in love with another human that my heart desires the most or if it’s being in love with something that will provide me with warmth. Maybe my career. Maybe a place in the world. Maybe a brownie. Who knows.

For awhile, I thought I was a cynic. I’d scoff at couples holding hands while walking down the sidewalk. I’d want to vomit anytime I’d scroll past someone’s #mcm post on Instagram. And the mere thought of a guy calling me a pet name like “babe” or, even worse, “bae” made me want to pull a Van Gogh and cut off my ear, except I wouldn’t stop at just one.

Truth is, I want all of those things and I scoffed at them, because I’m terrified of being a girl who wants those things.

I’m a strong, independent, self-sufficient, sass-spitting, bacon-earning, I-pump-my-own-gas, bill-paying, black coffee drinking woman, and I don’t need a man.

Wrong.

While I am all of those things listed (especially the sass bit), I am also a human and humans need other humans.

I want to be the girl walking down the street holding a hand that makes me feel safe.

I want to be the girl who is so proud to be with the man she’s with that she can’t resist posting a picture of him on every social media platform with the caption “#mcm” and a gazillion emoji smileys with hearts for eyes.

I want to be the girl whose ears perk up when she hears, “Babe!” (Never bae. Never, ever bae). And, in order for that to happen, I have to actually have ears, so severing them isn’t a good choice after all.

The truth is that we all want love. We all do. Whether we currently long for the love that satisfies our superficial side or the love that nurtures our soul, we still all want it.

We want it because it’s beautiful.

We want it because it makes us feel good.

We want it because, even on the coldest night (which might be 35 degrees here in New Orleans), we still have some warmth.

This past year, I have temporarily satisfied the superficial desires of my heart. It was all fun and games until I woke up one day and realized I needed more. It’s with great joy and ultimate satisfaction that I discovered I am ready to nourish my core sense of need. I am ready to surrender to love again.

It’s terrifying. And scary. And overwhelming. And with television shows out there that make you feel like the only way to fall in love is to do so on a mountain in Ireland with a tall, brunette man holding a rose awaiting your acceptance of it on national television, falling in love seems sort of… impossible in the “real world.”

But it isn’t impossible. It’s very much a real thing. The key to finding it, so I’m told, is being open to finding it and letting it find you.

To my lovebirds out there, go forth and prosper.

To my hopeless romantics, keep adding to your three page list of qualities that make up your perfect companion.

And to my cynics, keep scoffing at that couple walking hand in hand for as long as you need for whatever reason you may be scoffing. But there will be a day, I hope, where you wake with the desire to love. And I wish you all the best.

Get out there and love. All of you. Here’s to us and here’s to having our ears!

P.S. I give ABC full permission to contact me and ask me to be on this upcoming season of The Bachelor with Ben Higgins. I will 100% say yes.

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