From what I've seen on social media, watched on film and television, and gleaned from conversations with others, many women perceive love as the perfect man who knows exactly what to do when she's angry, never says the wrong thing, looks impeccable and spends ridiculous amounts of money on them. With all the emphasis people can put on these things, it can be easy to think that people tend to over-romanticize love. And then it dawned on me: true love can never be romanticized because love is the best and greatest thing we are capable of as humans. The problem is that we, as a society, spend far too much time, energy, and even money, over-glorifying what love isn't.
Society tells us that love and lust can be viewed interchangeably. It tells us that if a person wants to have sex with you, they must truly be "in love" with you. It tells us that love is materialistic and can be purchased through a fresh set of nails, a drink, a car. It tells us that love is a set of warm, fuzzy feelings that never fade away. If love was meant to be based on pure sentimentalism, even the most authentic loves would be fleeting. Love is not meant to be based on feelings; it is in the actions you do for another person, the act of self-giving.
Many films and books romanticize the notion that love "doesn't have to make sense," usually with the intent of justifying couples that do not truly fit well together. Perhaps some gang member falls in love with a "good girl" who is heavily sheltered. But, as long as they're both sexually attracted to each other, then there's no difference, right? Wrong. Because most stories and movies focus on the infatuation phase of attraction, which can last between 18 months and 3 years. Many intense emotions are prevalent in the people involved, which can convince them that they are destined to be together forever.
Of course, a person is more likely to make questionable decisions in a partner while still in this phase. However, in regard to finding a long-term partner, love should absolutely make sense. It is logical as well as illogical, in the sense that you CAN be opposites in terms of personality and career pursuits, but in many other ways you should be in sync. Your outlooks on life should align, you should have the same morals and values, and you should be compatible with each other. You should be able to feel confident that the other person is not only right for you but also helps drive you to be a better person. You should be a team, and if either of you is dragging the other person down, then that is not the person for you.
So, if love is not the instant spark between two symmetrical-faced persons in a rom-com, how can one go about finding it? The answer is friendship. This takes a lot of time to build, but I am a firm believer that true lovers must be true friends first, perhaps even the best of friends.
Of course, I still have a lot to learn myself. Maybe you read this and think "aww, how cute. She thinks she knows so much." And you're right; I am no relationship expert nor happily married. But learning what is not love can be beneficial in helping us learn and identify what real love is. After all, that's the only kind worth having.