What I Wish I Knew Before Falling In Love
While on a plane from Toronto to Vancouver, I was speaking to a cute girl about the meaning of life, and many other fun topics to talk about when meeting somebody for the first time.
During the conversation, she turned to me and asked: “What does love mean to you?”
It’s an interesting question that got me thinking. Perhaps it means having a trusted companion by your side for the rest of your life whom you can cherish & hold whenever you need comfort.
Or maybe it’s impossible to give it a single definition because it’s such a compassionate feeling that remains within us from birth until the day we die.
Whether it be for our friends, family, or relationships, we feel it for many people, yet practice it in a variety of ways. The Ancient Greeks called this concept Agape: a type of universal love that persists regardless of circumstance.
Even thousands of years ago, Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor-Philosopher, wrote in his book Meditations about the importance of unconditional love towards everybody within our lives:
“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”
For the longest time, I was genuinely afraid of falling in love. As I grew up with social anxiety, I’d often overthink every interaction, and question what people truly thought of me.
Every single day, I’d talk to myself in my bedroom, practicing how I’d speak during a normal conversation.
Negative thoughts of not being good enough plagued my mindset, destroyed my confidence, and left me wondering if somebody would ever love me. As you can imagine, finding a partner was not easy.
I knew that something had to change.
So I began watching videos on how to be more confident and read countless articles on what to say during conversations to understand human psychology. It admittedly wasn’t easy. However, the difference this made in my relationships was incredibly profound.
Below are a collection of lessons I’ve learned from painstaking heartbreak and rejection. Each of these insights about falling in love changed my life for the better, and I hope they do the same for you, too.
It’s not like the movies.
Most of us play out unrealistic fantasies in our heads of our ideal relationship in the future. For most people, this vision never comes true.
For example, I always used to dream about the generic movie scene of a couple kissing in the pouring rain while dozens of fireworks fill the night sky with a beautiful aurora.
But in reality, kissing with drenched shoes & rainwater dripping down your back is an extremely uncomfortable experience.
We all have a sense of desire, which compels us to search for a Hollywood fantasy of living happily ever after. But when confronted with reality, it’s easy to feel depressed that we’re not in a fairytale relationship with zero faults.
Over the years, I’ve learned that relationships (often) aren’t how movies portray them. But instead of wishing for an unobtainable life, I think a better way to live is being grateful for what we already have.
As Epicurus once so, eloquently said: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
Don’t have unrealistic expectations.
Perfection is something I always wanted. But in doing so, that made every aspect of trying to get into a relationship extremely difficult.
Looking back, my obsession with perfection was due to feeling insecure about myself, and so having a “perfect” girlfriend would hopefully make up for my flaws.
A common problem in relationships is that many couples have unrealistic expectations of what the other person can provide. And so more often than not, they criticize their partner for not being able to meet their standards.
But during the past few years, I’ve learned that nobody is perfect and that we often judge others because we judge ourselves. Think about it:
- If you care about how pretty you are, it’s natural that you’re going to judge others by their attractiveness.
- If you measure your success by the number of zeroes in your bank account, you’re going to judge other people by how wealthy they are.
- If your idea of a great night out is getting drunk, you’ll likely consider other people enjoying a movie night to be relatively tame.
I’ve come to understand that life is a game of perspective. Before you judge others for mistakes in either their life or relationships, first consider the reason you are placing an unrealistic expectation on them in the first place. Because let’s face it, none of us are perfect. Marcus Aurelius said it best:
“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?”
During the many relationships throughout my life, I’ve learned that placing an expectation on others is just an excuse for having unrealistic expectations of ourselves.
Thankfully, that means you can remove the judgment & expectation of others simply by changing the way you think. And this process starts by asking yourself one simple question: “What can I do today to make me happy?”
Since asking that question each morning when I wake up, the level of happiness within my relationships has massively increased.
Because when you can create a peaceful state of mind, it’s often reflected in the kindness of your daily actions towards others.
That’s true love.