Tears filled her eyes and began to spill, despite her obvious struggle to suppress the emotion that was overflowing from her sensitive soul. My friend - we'll call her Emma - sat across from me, sharing the last few months of her relationship with her now-ex-boyfriend, who is perhaps one of the most despicable humans I have ever interacted with. He was a bad boy with a "sweet side" that roped in the good girls who thought they were going to change him, only to leave them by the wayside after he proved again and again that he had no plans of changing his ways.

“I just don’t know why I didn’t see it earlier! I mean, I did, but why didn’t I listen to you and everyone and my gut??? How did I expect him to change? WHY did I expect him to change? Am I that worthless, that lame, that much of a nobody, that someone can just love and leave? What’s wrong with me?”

Emma has a kind heart and a beautiful soul. She loves hard and holds nothing back, and she shares wisdom with me and everyone around her when she can. Not unlike many people, she feels things deeply and wants a fairytale love, one where self-sacrifice and hopeless romance fill the days and a storybook ending awaits the happy couple.

And yet, just as far too many do, she settles. Exchanging promise for potential, we spend our time desperately searching for someone who is “good enough” to slap a label on instead of taking time and letting love find us; not to say that love doesn’t require effort and risk. But one thing that gets easily forgotten is this:

There is a remarkable difference between being desperate for a boyfriend or girlfriend and yearning to truly love and be truly loved.

Humans have an innate desire to be loved, cherished, and held in high regard. As if social media, daily life, and Hollywood don't make this clear enough, studies have proven this to be true. It’s part of us.

It’s easy to take the yearning to be loved and to love and mistakenly translate that into a longing to find someone who will kill time and temporarily satisfy the shallow sides of desire. If the best things truly take time, perseverance, and patience, never give up your yearning to love in exchange for something else.

As a disclaimer, this isn’t me discouraging dating or declaring that the person you grab coffee with next Tuesday must be your future spouse. However, my question to Emma, myself, and all of you, is why are we taking our fragile hearts and wearing them out in the name of superficial affection?

To Emma, my sweet sister, you will probably get to love someone for the rest of time. You will find a best friend who loves you for your flaws, your imperfections, your laugh, your freckles, your heart, and all your little quirks. Know your worth and settle for more.

To the rest of my sisters out there (and you boys too), stop being the victim. Stop falling prey to the manipulating and the insincere. Instead, embrace the art of waiting and grasp true and beautiful promises.

As for myself, I have had to learn that I do not desire shallow, temporary fixes, but that I would rather stand time, continue to crave true love, better myself, and then be found by someone who is ready to show me that love in the way that I deserve and the way that I have been waiting for.

Friends, it’s okay to feel lonely. It’s okay to be afraid of the future. It's okay to feel hopeless at times. It happens. But a love that stands time, that is selfless, that is pure and true - a love like that does still exist. It will take time, but it is worth it. Stop settling for shallow, and start listening to what your heart yearns for. Choose the promise that will remain and pass up the potential that peaks its head but refuses to bloom. Understand that there is a marked difference between being desperate for a temporary partner and the innate yearning to love, and choose to settle for more.