When Love Arrives: The Balance of Relationships

tumblr_mijj6yyWsh1rtwxwco1_500Since I’m a desperately obsessed music head, I sometimes like to hack my boyfriend’s website DubEra.com to contribute my two cents on the latest albums and events in the entertainment industry. This week I’ve been drooling over Sam Smith’s album In the Lonely Hour and crafting a review of his album got me really thinking about the sentiment and emotion behind his music, and why it resonates on such a deep level with me.

I did some background research on Smith, and found an interview that he did with Digital Spy, where he unapologetically explained the reason behind his melancholy music and heart-wrenchingly relatable lyrics.

He says, “My debut album is just a diary from a lonely 21-year-old. That’s what it is. It was my way of talking about the only real issue in my life. I don’t have that many sad things going on in my life and it was the only thing that was really affecting me last year: I fell in love with someone who didn’t love me back, and it made me get into this head space of, ‘Will I find love? When will I find love?’ This album is my ‘f**k off’ to everyone and basically say, ‘No, I have beenin love and, if anything, it was much more painful than your version’, because I’m not getting what I want and it’s so close. So, it’s my way of defining what is love, and how unrequited love is just as painful, just as powerful, as what we call ‘normal’ love.”

How could I not relate to this? How could anyone not relate? This particular album speaks a lot to the topics of finding and losing love, hanging on desperately to relationships that aren’t working, and feeling the intense heartbreak of failing at a relationship you worked so hard to build. I, along with several of my very close friends, have been experiencing the roller coaster ups and downs of being in a committed relationship, and in the wake of witnessing a couple of nasty breakups I’ve really been losing sight of what it means to be in love. It seems like the 21st century relationship norm is moving towards the extremes of either being co-dependent, or being completely unfaithful, and I’m starting to lose faith in the human race’s capability to be compassionate, trustworthy, and truly healthy in a relationship.

Being naturally independent, I struggled a lot with adjusting to being in a long-term relationship, especially since the both of us were fairly inexperienced with maintaining a relationship in balance with our crazy, nomadic lifestyles. We’ve been through more than our fair share of hardships and obstacles, but we’ve committed ourselves to working with one another, rather than against one another, to make the relationship blossom.

Awhile ago, an old friend told me one piece of sage advice: Clear, concise communication is the foundation of a happy couple. Similarly, a relationship expert gave me this tip: Always assume positive intentions from your partner.

I’ve been working to integrate these two ideas into my thought processes. In my experience, there are two things that will doom a relationship to failure: lack of communication and setting unreasonable expectations. When you stop communicating, you stop growing and moving forward. Water that stops flowing will quickly become stagnant and toxic… relationships are very much the same.

In relation to unreasonable expectations, I’ve been thinking about what my personal definition of love is.  I thought about all of the people I’ve loved in the past, platonically, emotionally, physically, sexually. I feel like I’ve loved many people, but each individual relationship was completely unique and based on completely unique feelings. What was the one common denominator that tied these experiences and feelings together?

One thing that I’ve learned in my experience is that love comes in all shapes and sizes. It is not the Disney prince coming to save you from the dragon and making you his Mrs. Charming. It is the hand that reaches across the table when yours is shaking. It is someone who offers up their own scars only to make your skin thicker. It is crying in coffee shops and not feeling ashamed of stepping out of that tough skin. Love is helping the other person fly. When you place expectations on love and strangle it while trying to coax it to be exactly how you want it to be, love will run away as fast as it can and never look back. You can’t mold human beings like a toy or a piece of art that you are trying to make perfectly beautiful. Human beings are messy and they make mistakes and sometimes they don’t live up to everyone’s expectations, but they’re still perfect in their own individual ways. When you let love flow, have its natural ups and downs, and never tell it it’s wrong for not exactly living up to your expectations, it will stay and hold your hand and fall asleep with you every night.

There is a spoken word poem that I heard a long time ago, and it has resonated with me ever since. It’s called When Love Arrives by Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye. I’m still figuring out what love means to me, and I encourage you to do the same so that when love arrives, you are fully ready to embrace it.

When Love Arrives

I knew exactly what love looked like
in seventh grade
.
Even though I hadn’t met love yet
if Love had wondered into my homeroom,
I would’ve recognized him at first glance.
Love wore a hemp necklace.

I would’ve recognized her at first glance.
Love wore a tight french braid.
Love played acoustic guitar,
and knew all my favorite Beatles songs.

Love wasn’t afraid to ride the bus with me.

And I knew,
I just must be searching the wrong classrooms;
just must be checking the wrong hallways.
She was there, I was sure of it.
If only I could find him.

But when Love finally showed up,
She had a bullcut.
He wore the same clothes every day for a week.
Love hated the bus.
Love didn’t know anything about the Beatles.

Instead,
Everytime I tried to kiss Love,
our teeth got in the way.
Love because the reason I lied to my parents.
I’m going to… Ben’s house
Love had terrible rhythm on the dance floor,
but made sure we never missed a slow song. 

Love waited by the phone,
because she knew if her father picked up
it would be, (heavy breathing)
“Hello, hello… I guess they hang up.”

And Love grew…
Stretched like a trampoline.
Love changed.
Love disappeared
slowly, like baby teeth
losing parts of me I thought I needed.

Love vanished like an amateur magician,
everyone could see the trapdoor but me.
Like a flat tire,
there were other places I had planned on going

but my plans didn’t matter.

Love stayed away for years.
And when Love finally reappeared,
I barely recognized him.

Love smelled different now,
had darker eyes,
a broader back.
Love came with freckles I didn’t recognize,

new birthmarks,
a softer voice.
Now there were new sleeping patterns,
new favorite books.
Love had songs that reminded him of someone else;
songs Love didn’t like to listen to
so did I.

But we found a park bench that fit us perfectly.
We found jokes that make us laugh.
And now Love makes me fresh homemade chocolate cookies.
But Love will probably finish most of them for a midnight snack.

Love looks great in lingerie but still likes to wear her retainer.
Love is a terrible driver but a great navigator.
Love knows where she’s going,
it just might take her two hours longer than she planned.

Love is messier now;
not as simple.
Love uses the word ‘boobs’ in front of my parents.
Love chews too loudly.
Love leaves the cap off the toothpaste.
Love uses smiley messages in her text messages
And turns out,
Love shits.

But Love also cries.
And Love will tell you, “You are beautiful.”

And mean it.
Over and over again,
“You are beautiful.”
When you first wake up,
“You are beautiful.”
When you’ve just been crying,
“You are beautiful.”
When you don’t want to hear it,
“You are beautiful.”
When you don’t believe it,
“You are beautiful.”
When nobody else will tell you,
“You are beautiful.”
Love still thinks,
“You are beautiful.”

But love is not perfect,
and will sometimes forget,
when you need to hear it most,
“You are beautiful.”
Do not forget this.

Love is not who you are expecting.
Love is not what you can predict.

Maybe Love is in New York City,
already asleep.
You are in California, Australia,
wide awake.
Maybe Love is always in the wrong timezone.

Maybe Love is not ready for you.
Maybe you are not ready for Love.
Maybe Love just isn’t the marrying type.
Maybe the next time you see Love is twenty years after the divorce.
Love looks older now but just as beautiful as you remembered.

Maybe Love is only there for a month.
Maybe Love is there for every firework,
every birthday party,
every hospital visit.

Maybe Love stays.
Maybe Love can’t.
Maybe Love shouldn’t.

Love arrives exactly when Love is supposed to.
And Love leaves exactly when Love must.

When Love arrives,
say, “Welcome, make yourself comfortable.”
If Love leaves,
ask her to leave the door open behind her,
turn off the music,
listen to the quiet,

whisper, “Thank you for stopping by.”

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