With Valentine’s Day all up in our shit, I thought I’d take the chance to say, “F#$K the media when it comes to images of love.” Whether you’re single or partnered up, unless you’re in the beginning honeymoon phase of love you probably at least SOMEtime feel like happily ever after seems unreachable. In my opinion, one of the worst parts of living in the digital age is that we get everybody’s best sides on Fakebook and Snapblat and frequently end up feeling insufficient. So here’s a typical media love story contrasted with some more realistic love stories that I describe from a mix of personal and professional experience (I’m a therapist).
1. Traditional Media: You meet, it might be a romantic run-in or online. You feel chemistry. You begin to date. You have trouble keeping your hands off each other. You begin to fall in love. You think you might have met your “soul mate.” You can’t sleep or eat. You imagine your life together. You date, you know he/she is the one. He/she proposes. You live happily (mostly—you know nothing’s perfect) ever after.
2. Real life: You meet. Maybe it’s a romantic run-in, maybe it’s online, maybe you were already friends.
You Assess: You might be really excited. You might be a little unsure. You might even be skeptical because he’s shorter then you’d like or her voice is a little annoying. But you think you like the person enough to begin dating. (and you wonder–is that normal? is that enough?)
You Fool Around: Maybe it’s hot and amazing. OR maybe he’s not as good of a kisser as you’d like. Maybe IT doesn’t last long enough—or lasts too long. But it’s fun and sometimes hot and you’re starting to really care about him/her. You start to feel a little afraid but excited too. And then sometimes you wonder what you really want and if you’re ready to settle down and never date again. But that seems like what most people do. And you think you want kids. Or not. You might be pretty sure you’ve found your life-person or you might be unsure but kinda love the person anyway. You might stay at this point for a long time. And then break up. Or get married. And have a messy real-life love.
In my experience—the first example is maybe 1 out of 100 (and I’d say that’s generous). The second is what happens much, much more often.
So as Valentine’s Day approaches, give yourself permission to let those Hallmark Cards turn your stomach a little. “The best days of my life all begin and end with you” OR “From the first time we met I knew there was something wonderful and unique about you…something that reached out and drew me to you completely.” Measure your love (if you have an S.O. right now) by how good they are to you, how you trust them, how kind they are, how they care, how they help you in hard times—not by how much you want to rip off their clothes or how much you can’t stand to be apart.
Here’s to letting our hearts receive the love we have—not the love that we see on our screens.