Every day millions of people fall in love. For the first time. Or the last time. Or the least advisable 'against all reason'.
You can look back on old relationships and think about the mistakes you made – both of you – and that can be really helpful.
On one hand, you can figure out what it is that you want out of a relationship, and that may have changed over the course of the latest relationship, or been altered by having not been in one for a little while. Maybe you've grown more independent, but still need an emotional support system that the relationship offers. It may be that you aren't looking for commitment in the way that you thought you were initially or that who you thought your dream guy was – well, maybe that has been updated too.
We are all liable to changing and our tastes too.
That's all about being human. Having new experiences, understandings, and mistakes that you can learn from. We all become more well-rounded individuals by looking our mistakes in the eye and being willing to fall flat on our face in a relationship. If you aren't risking your heart – just a little – then you aren't really opening yourself up to it. Therefore, you don't stand to benefit from the rewards of a relationship.
In short, when you're single, it can be very easy to look around you and wonder why you don't have a partner.
I know the feeling. It's late-night on a Tuesday evening and Taylor Swift's RED album is playing. You're feeling all sorts of feels. Mostly angsty heartbreak emotions, but you also circle back to the good old days. The rose-tinted, 'god we were great, weren't we?' glasses are fully back on again. Whether or not they really ought to be. Maybe you just watched the Gilmore Girls revivals and you're feeling nostalgic. Maybe it's been long enough and your heart feels ready to give it another go.
Who knows, you might be right.
But either way, here we are on the sofa with a glass of wine thinking about relationships of the past. There was Steve who broke your heart. Matt that soured pretty quickly after the 'what are we' chat. Brent. Ah, Brent. You're pretty sure you broke his heart. Eh, live and learn, I guess.
If it doesn't feel right, or you aren't comfortable, or something changes in your relationship, go with the flow. Don't force things that aren't working out, or that put you in a difficult position.
It's fine to acknowledge that things change.
It just means that you have another opportunity to fall in love again. This time, with conviction.
You might have changed, they might have – the terms of the relationship might have altered, or you might have realised that you don't want what you thought you did out of a relationship. That's all fine and perfectly valid, but you have to communicate this. You owe it to each other, and most importantly, to yourself to have clarity. Emotions are difficult at the best of times, but they aren't impossible unless you give up on them.
Don't settle for less than the best. Try not to have heart eyes for everyone that walks into a bar. They don't all have your vested interest in heart, and they're rarely looking for the same things you are. Timing is everything. Confidence is gold dust. But you ultimately can't control everything in your life, and there will be aspects that don't match up to what you think you should be doing.
That's normal, but you can't beat yourself up over it.
Relationships by definition are two way streets.
You can't go on it alone. Even if you're ready for commitment, you still need a willing and able partner to go the distance with, to whom you are attracted and have common interests. At the moment it may seem out of reach, but you can have that. You don't need to sacrifice everything in a relationship just to get the bare minimum. Or to meet up to someone else's standards.
In this way, I don't love the 'accidentally fall in love' trope that permeates so much of the media nowadays.
I know that there's truth to the old adage that you find love as soon as you stop looking for it, I know that. But there's something to be said for loving someone consciously, with intent.
Warts and all, and with eyes open.
Love isn't always something that sneaks up on you like in the rom-coms when it was the best friend soulmate all along. That's great and all, but that's not all there is to it.
Love is a hard-wrought thing. It is a battle in the best way. Love is something slightly different every day, and it changes and evolves alongside us.
It's hard work. Concentration.
You focus on your Person and give them a lot of what you have to give. Not once have you requested the return of your heart, because it's safe where it is. In their hands.
So go and love, and love hard.