Pop Culture
Jun 16, 2015, 10:27AM

What Love Means to Me

It's different for everyone.

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You make me nervous every time I see you, but it’s a different nervousness than when we first met. You showed up at the bar and I immediately thought, well, I’ll never see this guy again. I thought I was definitely not your type, that we’d have a drink and that would be the end of it. Thought I was boring you. But I’m glad we kept messaging, talking, hanging out, hooking up, and developing something more. Every message, every kiss was a surprise.

I haven’t told you yet but I’m in love with you. That’s why I feel nervous. That’s why, sometimes, I seem a little distant. I love you and don’t know how to tell you. I love having you in my bed and I love looking at you when you’re stuffing your face with food. I love how you talk to yourself as you get your day in order and I love watching you put your socks on. I love the way you smile and laugh. I love watching you sleep and I love the way you’re almost too tall for my bed.

I love you.

But with love, especially new love, comes a great deal of anxiety. Well, for me it does anyway. Sometimes I get so afraid of losing you that I worry more about the thought of losing you than I enjoy the present. I forget that you’re what I wanted and pursued all those months ago and that here we are, right now, together.

I worry that if we go to a bar or a club you’ll find someone more interesting and pick him over me. I worry you’ll realize you’d prefer to be single again or that you want to have sex with new people now. I worry if I tell you I love you you’ll flee.

These aren’t invalid concerns: they’re my insecurities, and they prohibit me from living in the moment. Worrying about things that haven’t happened is the surest way to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I say this every day: otherwise I’ll end up creating a chain of events that replicates every single thing I worried about above.

Loving someone and telling them so for the first time is nerve-wracking. You plan for weeks, worrying about the perfect delivery and the setting you’ll be in. Will you light candles or will you just blurt it out when you’re walking down the sidewalk? You really don’t know how your person is going to respond when you say it. Maybe they’re waiting for the right time to tell you too or maybe they’ll recoil with fear and say, “I don’t feel the same way, sorry.”

My friend Alexis told me we should say I love you as soon as we feel the urge. If the other person doesn’t feel it then what’s the point of continuing to live a fantasy? True, I told her, but it may also be that the other person doesn’t know they love you yet, doesn’t know what love means to them.

If you haven’t loved before it’s easy to feel like the first time you tell a boyfriend or girlfriend you love them should be the last time you say it to a single person. But that’s not true. You can love everyone differently.

Love doesn’t mean I want to own or keep tabs on you. Love, for me, means you have a special place in my heart. It means I see something when I’m out and about and it makes me think about you. It means I care about how you are, want to do new things with you and want you to be a key part of my life.

Love is about willing to take that first leap. In the end, what’s love worth if we’re not made to feel vulnerable, like we could lose it all at any time?


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