I'm a sucker for love stories. I love romantic comedies like the next girl, and I get caught up in shows like The Bachelor even though I try (sort of...) not to every season. And probably like most viewers, I overanalyze every relationship "the bach" has. From my observations I can clearly tell who is the best match and who is real and who is superficial...surely I am omnipotent when it comes to The Bachelor's life, right? Probably not. (especially because I didn't see tonight coming, but that's another story...)
But there is something that has always bothered me about the way love is pitched in the movies and on television: the phrase "falling in love."
Does one really fall into love? You fall into holes, you fall on a banana peel, or you fall down the stairs. Those things are accidental. I don't know anyone who goes throwing themselves down a flight of stairs or off a cliff on purpose (except for maybe the guy on Jackass). I don't think that love is accidental, and I'm fairly sure that most people in love would agree that it didn't happen by accident. Most would probably agree with me that love is, in fact, a choice you make (or choose not to make).
As one who has never actually been in love, maybe I shouldn't write from my inexperience. But I've observed, I've listened, and I've witnessed countless relationships from beginning to end, and from beginning to growth...and those that continue to grow only grow because two parties choose love. The relationships that end typically end because two parties choose to end it.
What saddens me most is that there are so many girls out there who buy into this "falling in love" idea and end up hurt. There is such a misunderstanding of what love really is. And I can honestly tell you that I can in no way understand it fully until I share it with someone else. I realize that. But tonight when Jason Mesnick, the Bachelor, claimed as he broke up with Jillian that he "had fallen for her but was not in love with her," I realized what lies we've told ourselves. Can you say that you've fallen for someone but you're not in love with them? I'm confused... But I would imagine that anything you "fall" into, you might "fall" right back out of in just as much time.
On a related note, in the way that we all buy into this "falling" idea, we also fall prey to the "signs" and "sparks" we think may exist. The movie He's Just Not That Into You addresses this well for those of us girls (we all do this, or have done it, or will do it) who read into every little word, action, touch, text, email, facial expression, hand gesture, etc. that guys express. Did he say "It was nice meeting you" at the end of the date or just the beginning? Did he say "I'll call you later" or "I'll call you next week"? Did he just touch my hand? He hugged me...what does that mean? His friend told me "I've heard great things about you." He must like me...
I'll be transparent in saying that I have read into things one too many times. (how can you not?) When watching HJNTIY I had to laugh at a few parts (to which my single friends also admitted) that reminded me of things I've done or read into in the past. I've been on the side of "he's just not that into me..."
But I've also been on the side of "I'm just not that into you..." and I know I've handled it all wrong. I avoid the truth and any confrontation that might hurt someone's feelings, so often when I am not into someone, I've come up with other excuses. (if somehow you're one of those people now reading this...i'm sorry...i'll just be honest now: i was, or am not, that into you...) Though it may be harsh, isn't honesty always the best policy? It's going to hurt either way...so why not rip off the Band-Aid instead of making the pain and foolishness last longer? Right?
However we are dealt the truth or a lie is bound to play a role in any future relationship. It may build up a lack of trust that could take years to rebuild. We build up walls that take years to tear down. Vulnerability feels like moving a mountain that sometimes crashes right back down on top of you once you've moved it.
But I imagine, and I trust, and I hope that love will change all of these things. As hard as it is to get to that point, I have seen that it is worth getting through past hurts and the vulnerability of making mistakes and the lesson of forgiveness and the difficulty of tearing down walls. And I hope it is worth it. I believe it will be, even though not all love stories have happy endings.
I imagine that love, in the process of building it, is healing. I imagine that love, in the daily choice that it is, is difficult. I imagine that love, in the unfolding of all of its deep dark corners, uncovers beautiful things.
I look forward to love. Real love. Chosen love.