Caught up in a torrent of emotions that we seem powerless to control; hardly able to think of anything else, barely able to function outside of the situation. We lose ourselves in ‘love,’ in what we believe love is supposed to be and how it is supposed to feel. We’re desperate to have them, to create an ‘us,’ sure that we’ve found the ‘one.’ How could it be anything else when we’re so utterly consumed?
All our lives we’ve been battered and engrained with the ideal that, unless you’re insane and addicted in your feelings for someone, it isn’t real and it isn’t going to last.
I’ve had that ‘love,’ and now years later, I hesitate to even call it that. Love is not obsession; it does not require you to give yourself wholly and completely at the expense of yourself. It does not ask you to be something you are not, it doesn’t ask you to be better or more. It does not ask you to give up on and forget those things that matter to you. That visceral, violent love that seems to burn through your life will dwindle and fade and once it’s over, you’ll be left with nothing but ashes.
I’ve had that flash burn, I’ve been caught up in that lie, and when it was over, I was left trying to pick up the pieces of who I thought I was. Without even realizing it, I’d set aside everything I truly cared for. My dreams, my career, my friendships, my family; it had all drifted away before I could even actively realize what was happening. It wasn’t healthy, it wasn’t good or honest or true. In short- it wasn’t love.
I made a commitment to myself after that. I made a commitment to myself and those things that mattered to me and swore that I would never give them up in the name of ‘love’ again. If love meant losing my identity, then maybe it wasn’t for me. But what I was really doing was making a commitment to love myself instead, and when you honestly love yourself; despite the flaws and mistakes, you’ll find that other people will love you too. They will offer you real love, though. The kind that is quiet, that is patient, and that is understanding.
I’ve found that a healthy love is a love that asks no more than you can give, and never takes without returning in kind. It isn’t perfect, but it is apologetic. It doesn’t take away from you, but bolsters you up and leaves you with a sense of self that doesn’t detract from what you want. A healthy love leaves you with the sense that, if it should come to an end, you will be left with more instead of less. You consider a life without them, and while it seems less bright, less happy and less appealing, you can see yourself there and know you would still be you at the end of it. This inner strength and affection allows for equal understanding and support; it allows for separation and difference of opinion. It does not require constant verification and doesn’t teeter on the whims of jealousy. It does not seek to possess or control, but to empower and uplift. Your lives are better together, but you still exist separately and uniquely.
The idea of an all-consuming passion and devotion might seem romantic and appealing, but I believe it is highly over rated. We so often sell the idea of comfort and companionship as ‘settling’ or as something benign and boring. What we should really be selling is the idea of a self love and inner strength that is capable of existing outside the affections of another person, even someone that we love. We should seek after an emotion that balances between the selfish and selfless and creates an atmosphere of growth and honest companionship.
Love shouldn’t change you or unmake you. It should merely bring out those things within you that are good, that are better. Love should not break you down, it should build you up.
Long distance relationships are at once entirely isolating and uniquely intimate. They highlight your resilient solitude and paper-thin vulnerability, sometimes multiple times in the same day. They always begin and end with a dial tone, one way or another. So does this song, ‘Snow In Newark,’ by Ryan Hemsworth ft. Dawn Golden. The video follows him on a trip through Nepal, alone in a new place, making connections while feeling fundamentally disconnected. It’s beautifully shot and gives you a few spectacular views of a naturally stunning, lush, green landscape, if you’re into that. ‘Snow In Newark’ is the first taste of Hemsworth’s sophomore LP, aptly titled Alone For The First Time.
If you didn’t think the idea of going to IKEA (and subsequently having to assemble the furniture) was terrifying enough, here is a video to freak you out if you’re sensitive to Stanley Kubrick flicks. IKEA Singapore published this video to promote a spooky contest, but the video itself is pretty great if you’re a fan of ‘The Shining.’ They do a good job of copying the signature camera movement and ambient aesthetic of the horror classic. I was hoping this would be a promo for ‘Shining’ inspired furniture, but alas, it would appear we must wait another year for a ‘Blook Soaked Malm Foyer Rug.’
“Last seen today at 19:43”— how damning, because it is now twenty to midnight, and I know you’ve read my messages from the day before. The double-ticks gave you away, dude.
Rewind 6 weeks, and it’s a pretty different picture: We started things slow and proper, where you picked me up, paid for dinner, dropped me home and kissed me goodnight. It was fun, and cute, and developing nicely. We texted every day, rudimentarily tri-lingual. Hola bae, que haces? You met my friends. We shared about our families, our time abroad, the experiences that changed us, and in between all of that I went from being wary and politely charming to blithely letting you in. When we last left off, you said you would see me soon, we made travel plans, and I believed you. HA.
Back to the present: I can’t believe you turned me into a sobbing mess of a girl, who had to turn to streaming Love Actually online just so I’d have an outlet to bawl my eyes out (Jamie and Aurelia? OMG. Obrigada, moviemakers, cos that’s never happening IRL.) I went from having my heart leap a little every time my phone vibrated, hoping it was you, to forcibly delaying checking my texts just so that in a bigger pile of messages there’d be a higher probability of yours buried somewhere within. I wondered if I’d done something to offend you, because why else would you disappear like Houdini after 6 weeks? Did you lose my number? Did you lose your phone? Did someone in your family die? Did you die?! I called, and you had no decency to answer.
You even succeeded in the worst sin of all— you made me, a smart & independent go-getter, feel downright stupid and helpless, reduced to checking my phone and desperately replaying things back in my own head. To exacerbate matters, my reaction doesn’t even make sense. You’re being kind of (actually, every inch) a jerk and completely stopped contacting me for literally no reason. The obvious conclusion is that you’re the idiot. So why do I feel like I’m the one who got played then hung out to dry?
Now before you dismiss this as an emotional rant about my hurt feelings, let me make one thing clear. This isn’t about my singlehood. This isn’t about my ego. This isn’t because I’m heartbroken- not even close. This isn’t about the fact that I gave you a toothbrush, or that you made me believe we had future plans. This is about the fact that YOU created a consistent pattern which I became used to— texting regularly, going on dates at least once a week, if not twice, and generally being a pretty awesome dude— then, on a whim, decided to completely upend things and subvert my expectations into oblivion.
2 words: DETRIMENTAL RELIANCE. A.K.A, I relied on your representation of yourself to my detriment. Yea, go ahead and quote me, because that’s exactly what it is and, no, one doesn’t have to be a lawyer like I am in order to understand this concept. Every girl’s had some variation on this theme, where a guy is consistently great for weeks, then categorically vanishes into thin air. PS: I’m not overreacting here, because this wasn’t 2 dates, or 2 weeks. This was 6 whole weeks of my time. You did this. And the heartbreaking truth is that I am gutted to the core because of it.
I’ve tried reasoning it out ad nauseum— When exactly did things break down? Did I say something wrong? Should I not have done that? URGH stupid reply, I could’ve texted something else. Then it finally clicked: I can’t explain what happened precisely because I have nothing to do with this. It wasn’t anything I did, or anything I could’ve done. I can’t justify this shit show because it is not my failing. As much as it pains me, I know I won’t be able to rationalize this on my own terms ever. Because this isn’t about me, it’s patently about you.
I am, by all accounts and to everyone that knows me, a strong, confident, intelligent and attractive woman, who really isn’t short on people who appreciate me for who I am. And while we’re at it, yes there are other men who would love to have had as many chances to see me as you have. So although all I want to do is crawl into a hole where I don’t have to face the world for a while, I’m not going to. I’m not going to question myself anymore and ask why I wasn’t good enough. I’m not going to wallow in self-pity and wonder why this almost-relationship never made the cut. I’ve spent enough time in my own head with the what-ifs, the could-bes and the should-haves. I’m not going to vilify you, because that’s going to use up my energy and time on what really isn’t very important. I’m choosing not to be miserable, because although that is the infinitely more difficult choice, it’s the right one in the circumstances.
So to the indecisive, cowardly, ninny boys of the world who’ve ever taken the easy way out of completely vanishing over the honesty that any girl deserves and appreciates, take this as a PSA: We’re not waiting around for you anymore. We’re not pining or obsessing or wondering or moping. We’re not standing for behavior like this, because anyone who’s capricious with our feelings doesn’t deserve our feelings. Nada mas, chico. Maybe you’re reading this and figured out a way to finally come clean. Whatever. Because even when that happens, we gon’ be gone anyway.