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.
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.
I'm not going to pretend that life is always going to be sunshine and daisies, dear readers. The simple fact of the matter is that sometimes life sucks, and it sucks hard. I'm not sure that there is an emotional experience more frustrating, heart-wrenching, guilt-tripping, or generally horrible than unrequited love. If you remember feeling like Rosaline in Romeo and Juliet – the brief object of his whims only to be side-lined for the flashier, younger model – then you're in the right place. It is so hard to find value and validation in who you are as a person without reciprocal feedback from another person.
Indeed, if your feelings of worthiness stem from the emotional support of another person, as so often it does, that person is, for better or worse, responsible for your state of mind and sense of self.
This isn't fair on anyone, and don't we know it
We angst and stress about the lack of emotional reciprocation we're receiving, all the while lamenting that it's not necessarily even their fault. That's always the kicker that the people causing such emotional distress and pain aren't actually aware they're doing it. The quest for a satisfying and enduring, comfortable love is a long journey and often one that doesn't have a specific endpoint. Certainly, 'enduring love' cannot be achieved through sheer force of will. Oh, but haven't we tried!
But you aren't alone! I promise you that there are millions of people around the world and close to you that feel exactly the same way; helpless, confused, frustrated, and like you're 'lacking' something fundamental. That feeling doesn't even necessarily go away when you're in a relationship, and there are no two ways about it. Love is hard. But it's even harder when you don't feel loved.
We don't need to be strong and self-sufficient all the time
I know another basic human instinct is to protect ourselves and remain quite private with our sufferings. However, we must learn to keep ourselves open and acknowledge when we are feeling isolated or upset. We need to be able to communicate when we feel we aren't being supported, not feel ashamed of what is sometimes perceived as a 'lack of self-sufficiency.' We need to ensure that we can desire love without any stigma of not being progressive or forward-thinking. All living organisms hunt in packs! The animals that live alone simply don't thrive in the same way as communities, so we can't expect to either by pretending that we don't want to be loved.
We need to let our guards down – do you guys remember what it feels like to go home to your family for the holidays when you sit by a warm fire and get fed to within an inch of your life by your slightly overbearing mother and father? That's what we acclimatise to as children, and it's right that we should desire it as adults. These feelings are valid and rooted in social structures that have pervaded for centuries.
Desiring romance is not weak or 'anti-feminist'
It shouldn't need to be said, but it does. I'm going to say it again louder for those of you that didn't hear it at the back: whatever your political agenda or goals, no way of life or worldview should invalidate your need to be loved. We're fighting for equality for all, not isolation and island-mentality.
It's okay to want to be desired and feel desirable – again, even if you are subscribing to the male gaze, or your feet hurt in those shoes, but you know your legs look great, you don't need you every moment to be symbolised or politicised. You are valid and worthy to want to be wanted; everyone wants to be wanted. People might show that in different ways, but doing so in an apparently 'anti-feminist' way isn't weak or misguided – it's your prerogative to make those decisions.
You learn so much more about your own needs
Sometimes in the dark recesses of our mind, there lie a few thoughts that we would rather didn't see the light of day. They largely comprise 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.
I'm not saying that you can't love yourself when single. That would be ridiculous. However, there remains the human instinct to be validated.
We want to feel desired and desirable. We can know it theoretically, but it all changes when you are prioritised by another person day in, day out.
And that's completely valid.
Far be it for anyone else to tell us how to love each other.