19 Oct WE NEVER REALLY FALL OUT OF LOVE
As someone who doesn’t fall in love easily yet falls in love completely, I’ve come to the conclusion that real intimacy never really leaves you.
I am constantly shape-shifting and shedding versions of myself in order to evolve, and this means I’m forced to let go of old relationships and accept the reality that most deep connections are fleeting. Despite this evolution, I still believe that we never really fall out of love.
It sounds laughable, especially coming from someone who will willingly rant about the wrongdoings of exes if prompted with open-ended questions and a bottle of tequila. I’ve bonded with too many strangers to count in club bathrooms as we stumble and scream about the guys who gave us the bare minimum and the girls who imprinted on us like bad tattoos.
Even though I can’t stand some of the people I’ve dated, the love I had for them has shaped the person I’ve become, and the feelings I once felt for them, though dormant now, still linger in my body. Like a museum of past loves, the statues of my relationships line the corridors of my psyche—heavy with the depth of experience and understanding.
When I say we never fall out of love, I don’t mean that we never get over past partners. I mean that love is a deeply internal process that changes our composition, and we can never change it back. Experiences with intimacy often come out of nowhere and bleed into future interactions, impacting who we let in and how we choose to navigate the dating world. I would never gravitate towards the romantic partners I desire now, or notice the red flags and toxic tendencies in love interests if I hadn’t been in love before. Where I once had blinders, I’m now aware of areas where I need to grow in relationships.
I won’t admit I’m a romantic to anyone, let alone the people I date. I’m flirty and witty and always have my guard up. It’s only in the most intimate of moments, usually early in the morning or under the covers at night, that I’ll admit how deeply I’m able to feel things with the right person. I’ve fallen in love with moments, with friendships, with places.
When I fall in love with a person, I feel them fill a space in my being that never felt empty to begin with, but suddenly is filled with warmth and longing and the distinct scent of them.
In addition to not admitting my romantic side, I’ve also had terrible judgment when it comes to relationships. The people I choose to be with have usually been intense, cocky, and a little too much like me for things to ever work out. The love I felt at sixteen, naive and all-encompassing, was still love. I can look back and laugh at my choice of men; I can recognize patterns of toxicity, and I can shudder at how easily I lost myself in the arms of another person. I know in my core that I cannot dismiss the feelings that took over my body and soul, even if the person I once loved is meaningless to my life now.
Some part of me will always be in love with some part of them. Even if my feelings are dormant and I haven’t thought of them in years, there’s a kind of beauty in knowing that every person I’ve ever loved has left a mark on me. I’ve found that even if I hate them, the rawest form of emotion I felt for them will never disappear. We will always have the connection we shared, and we will always be bonded in the purity of those feelings.
My first kiss on a park bench. Hands shaking. The almost-love over the summer, melted into August forever. The on again, off again, I never want to see you again. The week alone together, blushing with the heat of newness. The “I hate how much I love you.” The eight hour first date. The “I feel like I’ve known you forever.”
After all these experiences, love looks different to me now. I understand what I want in my romantic life versus what I need. I can recognize when a relationship is good for me, and when it just feels good for a few moments.
Shadows of me at sixteen, nineteen, and twenty are nested inside the shell of my current identity. They don’t disappear, and their experiences with love have made me who I am.
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: Mind Journal