Well, its funny, because if you had asked me this question 10 or 15 years ago my answer would’ve probably been very different. Love or more precisely being in love is something that I think gets defined and redefined several times over as we get older.
I think its easy to mistake other things for love, especially when we’re younger. Lust, crushes, deep friendships… all those things can seem like love. When we’re younger we are so hungry for that kind of connection that its easy to mistake this yearning for being in love. I had four partners when I was between the ages of 20 and 27, and I loved them all. I know what I felt was deep and sincere, yet they were relationships that seemed transitory. I was still cooking in the oven, I was still in the process of becoming the man I am today, everything was in flux, and those relationships always felt like they had an expiration date looming nearby. And it wasn’t just me; those guys were in flux too. Its like we were all in motion, going a million miles per hour while trying to hold hands. Often you are going in different directions, which is why its so hard to be in a long-lasting relationship in your 20’s, especially in your early 20’s. Those relationships were like roller-coasters, some lasted a few years, others a few months, with crazy ups and downs, break-ups and reconciliations. They were either long-distance or weekend relationships due to the lack of parental or financial independence you have at those ages. Yet if you had asked me then if I was in love I would’ve said yes. Because that’s all you know.
I discovered what being in love truly was when I met my husband Clif. I was 27 and thankfully I was done cooking. I was out of the oven and my life wasn’t in flux, and neither was his. Neither of us was moving away, or going off to college, or trying to figure out our careers, or exploring our sexuality, or trying to figure out where to live, or in the process of defining our identity, faith, whatever. It was a year after I moved to the states and I felt like I had finally come up for air. It was calm, things were settling and there he was.
Falling in love is not fireworks, or grand orchestral music playing, or a roller-coaster full of happy and sad… its calm. Its finding this person that suddenly compliments you at the core of who you are. You miss him when he’s not there, you’re happy when he is. You share your space with him and it feels like he was always there. You talk and its wonderful, and you sit there in silence and its even more so, because its not awkward or uncomfortable. He changes you in minuscule ways yet allows you to be yourself more than ever before. Love lives in the insignificant moments, like watching him open a new toy you just bought him, or in the big moments like when he’s reading his vows to you on the day of your wedding. To be truly in love is to know that you are safe and that you will never again be alone. To be so sure that you are loved and that you love him back that all jealousy and all insecurity melts away because you know its forever. That is what being in love means to me today.