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Like – In Love – Love

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. After being bombarded online by “Turn Casual into Couple” articles, I think maybe a little re-evaluation is in order.

**I should preface the following read with saying that I fully understand everyone comes from different circumstances. Understandable. This is from my perspective and experiences. I made mistakes in date choices. That one date in college my best friend and roommate-at-the-time will never let me live down? Yes. Did it. What I’m bumbling through is a moment of acceptance. Love yourself first so you can wholly love another. (Not in a narcissistic way.)

WHERE DATING STARTS

My first “boyfriend” was a little boy a year older than me – 2nd grade. We exchanged notes during recess. I broke up with  him. He told me when I played soccer he could see under my skirt when I kicked the ball. Yep – that relationship was over. Gross. Even when I think back on that, it really is creepy.

The next “boyfriend” had the audacity to mail me a letter over the summer like a pen pal. Remember pen pals and how fun it was to receive a letter in the mail? Awesome. That relationship was over when he actually CALLED me on the phone. Seriously, in 4th grade (circa 1990ish), who calls someone? O-V-E-R.

By late middle school, I liked this boy and he liked me. I sat at a high school basketball game next to him with my friend pasted to one side of us and his friend pasted to the other. He gave me a candy bar and tried to hold my hand. That relationship was over too.

LIKE – IN LOVE – LOVE

Still without a First Kiss AND feeling perfectly fine with that.

Are you sensing a level of innocence here? I was raised by two loving parents who emphasized a few important things without ever saying a pointed word about it to me. My body was private. Signs of affection were reserved for someone you REALLY care about. And the big one – LIKE, IN LOVE, and LOVE are 3 different things.

Why is this such a difficult concept? It was for me too! Like many other things, I want to place at least part of the blame on celebrities. Whether they are truly party to it or not, the media flashes their revolving trysts all over like it is how a successful relationship should work. They meet, are in love, making babies, and then hate each other all in a matter of months.

I like to call this the celebrity “playing house” problem. I like you therefore I want you around. I want you around and enjoy all the fun we have. I must be in love with you. Let’s move in together! A few days, weeks, months, or even years of life like this — OOPS! My “in-love” status must be wearing off. You annoy me. Must not have really been love. And as a celebrity, it is splashed all over the news. Things are quiet until KAZAM! New relationship. Same pattern.

Love is so much more than playing house and enjoying dinner together. Taking a cue from the Bible, Love is Patient, Kind, Not Proud, Not Boastful. It is about the other person. Everything about the other person. Loving yourself enough to love another is not easy. Love is inspired and inspirational. It is also a give and take. You both must be love as a verb and a noun. It is physical, emotional, and spiritual. Love is hard to define.

OBSERVE & EXPERIENCE – 15 YRS

To keep it simple and sum it up, 15yrs of experiencing and observing as a teen, twenty-something, and teacher in 10 thoughts:

1) The fun of liking or dating a boy is absolutely nowhere as romantic in reality as it is in the movies or books. My spouse is my best friend and I can still say this statement is true. We laugh, argue, make up, and live. There still aren’t the number of flowers or jewelry as the movies suggest.

2) Some boys are like bad peanut M&M’s. Sweet on the outside, but when you get a little deeper, they cause that awful look on your face, in your heart, and sometimes all the way to your soul. Get rid of them. Quickly.

3) Be the stronger person. Be your own advocate.  Your significant other should raise you up and enjoy you for you.

4) If your sister or best friend wants to smack him, think twice, three, or four times about that date!

5) Laugh. Then laugh some more. If you aren’t at least giggling, think twice about your choices. Trust me on this one. Dated one that made me cry – a lot. Dated and married one that makes me laugh daily, even after disagreeing.

6) Don’t be in such a hurry to mature. At 31, what I wouldn’t give to go back to silly girl talks and dancing in my friend’s living room to Gwen Stefani.

7) You don’t need to play house to keep the right guy. Respect yourself. Either he will respect you or he won’t. If he doesn’t, he wasn’t the “right guy.” A long-term relationship needs some sort of commitment.

8) Parents. Are you crazy? What are you thinking letting your child watch a movie with a date with the door closed? Guarantee their hands are NOT being kept to themselves.

9) Parents, pt2: Meet the love-interest. Keep an open line of communication with your child. If he/she won’t talk to you about at least some of the relationship  *warning sirens.*

10) Put yourself out there. For the first time in my life, I offered a guy my phone number after meeting through mutual friends. I remember thinking, I’ve never done this before. Should I? I ended up marrying him 5 years later.

I’m no expert on love, but I have seen both the highs and lows. I’ve made bad choices. We all have. We must keep on liking, blooming in love, and loving.

first dance sepia (2)

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