Love Doesn't Fade, But You Do
Maybe love isn't the problem. It's your ideas about what it's supposed to mean.
“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
― Robert A. Heinlein
I used to hate saying the words, "I love you."
They felt heavy and metallic. They didn't seem real. They had no juice and no verve behind them. It was just a thing that people said to each other, like "Bless you," or "Everything's going to work out." Love poetry bored me because I couldn't understand how anyone's limbs could be compared to a flower or their face to a sunset.
Pretty words couldn't make a pretty reality.
Then I actually fell in love. Or so I thought. When I kissed a boy for the first time I had tears streaming down my face because the intensity of the feeling stunned me. We made plans for forever and ran away to Austin together.
That's how I found out how quickly a good feeling could fade. Forever really wasn't that long. In less than a year we became strangers. After that I tried to guard my heart. I wanted to be cool and disaffected, lean and fast as a cigarette. I opened my body to others and tried to stow my mind away inside where it couldn't be found. If the light hit my eyes my pupils wouldn't contract.
Love had made me so useless it could have split my spine.
"I love you" once felt like an irrelevant statement but then it began to terrify me. I'd seen what happened when I "loved." It was a promise that always leaked. It was marking the path to an ending.
I didn't seem to be the only one that felt that way. Everyone told me that "love faded." That "love" was a choice. They told me that many days they hated their husbands or wives. They said that passion always disappeared. It wasn't entirely my fault that I thought the whole mechanism was broken and romantic poetry about forever was a lie. If love was just a ghost of romance, some struggling specter that you had to constantly attend to like you were paying bills or washing the dishes, then what was the fucking point?
If love was "work," how could it even be considered love at all? That just sounded like a cope. Two people fell in love, got married, were happy until the love faded, and then entangled their limbs and blew poison into each other’s mouths to slowly kill each other.
But it turned out that love wasn't the thing that was fading. I was.
Sure, I guess you could just boil all this down to the fact that I have an insecure attachment style. But the truth was that I wasn't good enough to love.
I set myself up for failure because I thought love was something I could take to fill myself up. I was empty and I needed to be nourished. I'd open up my heart and try to take the love inside only to let myself leak out.
I thought I was complete. I craved adoration so I thought adoration was all that I required. Yet I could have the most beautiful, intelligent man in front of me, confessing his love, and I'd feel nothing but the sour taste of need when I swallowed.
"I love you" isn't just a good feeling.
It's the admission that you aren't good enough.
You'll have to rearrange your insides to let another human being fit inside. You'll have to take on the responsibility of carrying another person inside of you and trying not to drop them. This isn't "work." This isn't grinding your teeth.
If you tell someone that you love them and then set the timer until the feeling disappears, you're not running into an inevitability. You're hastening the end yourself.
Because love doesn't fade. It's eroded by resentment. It's murdered with the delusion of your own perfection. It's killed with a desire that doesn't know how to give.
Because love isn't "work." It's the appreciation for a thing's existence. It's the force of life itself. And if you sustain the proper mechanisms inside of you, and so does the other person, it'll never die out.
So how does this apply practically?
Recognize that you're a broken human being and that there's a lot of things wrong with you. If someone you love hurts you, examine your own behavior and ask yourself if you’ve hurt them too. Remember that the wrongness inside of you can't be cured with love, but it can be illuminated. Don't wait until your breakup or divorce to hit the gym and get a therapist. Now is the time to begin, and you'll always be beginning.