Monday, February 14, 2011

Love

I found myself in conversation about boys, love and online dating with the 25 year old nurse practitioner in my dermatologist's office last week. A stunning young girl with a  couple of fancy degrees and a complexion worthy of working for a dermatologist I have to say I was a little taken back when she told me she was on Match.  Yes, the stigma associated with online dating has gone the way of rotary phones. But she's only 25.  At her age shouldn't it be as simple as walking down the street for her to meet a guy?

She scrunched up that beautiful face of hers as she told me it's really hard out there. I agreed with her. It is hard, much harder for her generation than it was for mine. Life was slower then.  Technology was not as big a part of our lives. If a guy took your number you waited at home for him to call you or you might miss him. You didn't go out with your girlfriends with your phone in your purse.

People had to talk to each other more if they wanted to connect. They had to leave the house and go to  parties instead of flirting in their pajamas in front of a computer screen. People were forced to  pay attention to their surroundings and see if someone interesting might be standing next to them instead of listening for the sound of a text, email or call emanating from a purse. They had more questions to ask on a first date because there was no on line profile to read in advance. There was no GPS, no 4Square or Twitter  that could allow you to find anyone, anywhere. There was no Facebook to check relationship status and photos of where he was when not with you.

There isn't as much privacy anymore. Worse there isn't as much mystery. And personally, I like a little mystery in my romance.

It's harder for her generation than it was for mine. But maybe it's always harder when you're 25.

At 25  you are just starting to realize love doesn't necessarily come as easily as we'd been told it would. It's that time when you still want to believe in storybook romance but are starting to see those perfect loves only live in prose.  It's when you start to worry you may never meet that one great love to last a lifetime.

I wanted to tell her it would all be OK.  I wanted her to know that real life love gets messy and that's OK. That means you're really loving and really living. That love comes more than once if you keep your heart open. Each time it's different and often better. Some loves last a long time and some a brief second. Some leave you hurting for a while but they always leave you hungering for more. I wanted her to know love happens unexpectedly and never when you force it. That once you've loved someone they will always keep a little piece of your heart, that there is no age limit on love and it rarely looks the way the world tells you it's supposed to.  I wanted her to know there is no one way things are supposed to look.

I wanted her to know there is so much love to have and give beyond romantic love. Parental love, family love, the love of really great friends, and if you are extraordinarily lucky the love of your work.

But I knew that she would have to live the years to understand what I've learned. And I knew at her age, I wouldn't have wanted to hear any of it much less believe it.

So I left her with the best advice I could. What I wished someone had convinced me of at 25. That until you really learn to love yourself, the parts that are easy to and the parts that are more difficult to embrace, until you can really stand in a place of loving you, of looking in the mirror and noticing what is right instead of what's wrong, you can never fully love another person. She told me that's what her therapist told her.


Happy Valentine's Day !




What have you learned of love?
What do you wish someone had convinced your younger self?
Is it only experience that teaches us?

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