You guys are just too cute together. You’re stubborn in all the right ways, he knows how to compromise. You both love doing the dishes. Need I say more?

It was like the movies, when you fell in love. All the songs suddenly make sense. You no longer feel the need to compulsively rewatch Gilmore Girls episodes to fill the gaping chasm in your heart. It’s Springtime.

Life is good, and you are in love. 

It’s not that life would be bad if you weren’t in love, but let’s face it, for those of us that seek emotional validation and support from others, it’s the bee’s knees. It’s great to be able to give yourself to another person and be vulnerable, and of course we still get that from friends and family, but there is something different. It changes how you perceive the world around you and impacts upon what you value. Everything is relative, but that’s even more true when you’re in love. Committed to another person, and caring about their welfare above, well, most things. 

As long as you don’t cruelly abandon your friends in favour of your new significant other (seriously don’t, it’s the worst), it’s generally a good thing to have new priorities and a refreshed outlook on life. 

Question: how do you know you’re in love?

Answer: you change. 

There are some fundamental ways that your perspective on life changes when you’re in love:

You are more confident and less insecure – the fact of the matter is that your favourite person likes you, as you are. Therefore, there’s little else that can impact that. Granted, you are slightly at the mercy of your partner’s critical eye, but the people who’s opinion you shouldn’t have been listening to in the first place, they’re truly irrelevant now. 

People around you are less of a threat.

This is simple maths, really. When you are happy and content in yourself and your relationships, it’s easier to shrug off things like peer pressure and unconscious competition. You’re less likely to critically compare yourself to other people when you have a full life. 

You begin to view life through your partner’s eyes. This doesn’t mean that you merge into your partner and subsume their interests in place of yours (I hate it when my friends basically turn into their boyfriends whenever they get into a new relationships). No, what I mean is that you look at life aware of both your own perceptions, but also with consideration to the implication on your partner. Essentially, if you see a hilarious Facebook post about three adorable dogs that were rescued off the streets, rather than smiling and moving on, you instead think, “Hey, (X) would love that”.

Then, you tag them in the meme and ensure that your whole roster of Facebook friends can bear witness to your online PDA. Your ePDA, if you will. Or indeed, you may be out shopping, minding your own business, when you see a sloth tote bag that you know your girlfriend will absolutely die when she sees. Therefore you buy it and get ready to blow her mind later on. It’s the big and the little things but both are now reframed in the LoveLens. The world exists in relation to your lover.

Melodramatic, yes, but not incorrect.

  1. Can you drive them to the airport? Absolutely. Do you want to grab a coffee? Obviously. Are you down to volunteer at the homeless shelter with me? ‘I’d love to, and I love that you are the best person I know’. I could go on but I sense I’ve made my point. 
  2. You learn so much more about your own needs. Sometimes in the dark recesses of our mind there lies a few thoughts that we would rather didn’t see the light of day. They largely comprise of self-hating angst and irrational stress about things we can’t control. But lots of us grow up thinking that we’re unloveable, or that a relationship won’t ever be on the cards. Therefore, when we eventually get what we’re looking for, we realise how much we can offer the world. Indeed, once you’re comfortable, you recognise your own needs. You also realise that you can communicate these needs, boundaries or desires and have them happily met or discussed. In short, you have proof that you are a good person, worthy and capable of love. It makes self-love so much easier when you have proof. 

Finally, though…

Loving someone means understanding their pain and triggers

Everyone feels lots of pain. This is as close to objective fact as one can get with pain discourse. Low level, high level, stubbed toe, my grandma died, who am I, and why did I do that and worse still, why didn’t I do that. She loves me, she loves me not pain and I stacked it on a run and my palms sting. I don’t know how or why but my heart is fizzing and feels like its about to dissolve into someone else and I can’t stand how I give away my essential organs like I don’t need them. That pain. 

Pain becomes such a large part of our lives – in it’s presence, absence, and degrees of intensity and how we can variously interpret, learn from, hide and defer it. So, here I am, adding to the time you spend ruminating on pain today.

Go figure. 

But basically, when you are in a relationship and you are in it for the long haul, bearing another person’s pain isn’t a burden. It’s a purpose. An honour, even.

To help them when they are most vulnerable and to, in some small way, ease their pain.

But first, let’s go on a deep dive into the nature of pain and triggers themselves.

Yes, I’m feeling emotionally masochistic. What of it?