What I've Learned About Love

In my ten or so years of dating, I've experienced triumphs, failures, heartbreaks, butterflies, and everything in between. I've been flat-out rejected and I've rejected flat-out. But a recent string of love and loss has given me cause to rethink my behavior in relationships and reflect on how to be a better lover. These are the things I've learned about love.

Soul mates are real. Perfection is not. Having logged far more time with computers than women, I've come to expect that relationships should operate in a similarly predictable fashion. And, much as a web designer pushes pixels until their design is perfect, so too can we pigeonhole our significant others into being perfect by our measure, right? No. We humans are generally fucked up. We have ugly faces when we wake up, we smell when we come home from a long day, and we're prone to misery at the most inoppurtune times. While it might be the case you're with your soul mate, recognize they're just as human as you are. Loving their inperfections is often more important than loving their good qualities.

A hot date is exciting. But a hot date won't take care of you. Countless times during my last relationship, I explained to my lover that I wanted to "see other people." I thought it better to express this desire and talk about it rather than act upon it callously behind her back. I've always had a hard time with commitment, be it with my living situation, job, or relationship. But only recently, I've realized that a "hot date" gets cold fast. I'm reminded of a quote by relationship expert Chris Rock:

You gotta think about life in the long term. Now, people tell you life is short. No it’s not. Life is loooong. Especially if you make the wrong decisions! And in the long term, if I’m sick, is new pussy going to take care of me? No. If I’m hungry, is new pussy going to feed me? New pussy can’t cook!

Happiness in a relationship comes from within yourself. Your lover can't make you happy, and you can't make them happy. The best you can do is provide support to act as a catalyst for their happiness and have faith that they'll come around. So many times I've found myself unattracted to my partners, not recognizing that it might have been my own lack of awareness causing our mutual grief.

In order to truly love, you must first truly love yourself. I've experienced this on both sides of the table. Nothing is less alluring or attractive than a lover who can't muster the courage and strength to take care of themselves. Deficient self-love is the root cause of codependency in my experience. In cultivating healthy self-love, you'll appear more vibrant, capable, and desirable.

Next time, I'll be a better lover.