It’s the age-old question: Should you be the one who searches or the one who gets searched for? The answer actually depends entirely on you.
Morrissey once sang: “I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does.”
One unalienable part of our existence here on earth is to love and feel loved. There is no human being born and will be born that can claim that they don’t need love in their life. The thing is, we are nothing without it, and we are at our best with lots of it.
To give you an idea of the scale of our fascination with love, think of all our history’s worth of art, literature, songs, legends, and films dedicated to this concept. Real or imagined, the pursuit of love can be seen across all ages and cultures.
From the time of Shakespeare to the contemporary world, the romantic love formula is still the top-selling plot device in various media. As you can see, love is all over our psyche and there is no good example to illustrate the fact that you, dear reader, is the product of your parent’s love story.
The only question that remains is whether we wait for love to come to us, or we head out there, and win that special someone.
Love and evolution
If you strip the poetics and analyze love’s blacks and greys, love is an evolutionary mechanism that allows us to perpetuate the species. It starts with chemical reactions in the brain that translates into attraction between sexes, thus paving the way for reproduction.
But one thing that separates us from the rest of living things is our ability to perceive it as a more complex concept. Guinea pigs don’t go out on dates, and they certainly don’t get mushy from watching Pretty Woman.
Human love includes far more things than just reproduction. In choosing a partner, we consider compatibility, physical appearance, economic standing, intellect, personal interests, taste in music and all those other things that you advertise in your Tinder profile.
According to various studies, we are at our most obsessed with finding love from the late teens to early adulthood. It makes sense as we reach sexual maturity during that period of our lives. It’s like your body giving you a nudge and telling you, “It’s time to reproduce.”
Why doesn’t love always work out, even if we pursue it?
So in this case, we are bound to seek relationships either way. The question is defeated because we are wired to pursue love whenever we can find it. But the sad thing is, sometimes, it doesn’t really work out for us because:
#1 People have different priorities. In the modern world, there are so many things to do, but so little time to do it. You could be anything you want and you want to achieve lots of things. Maybe you find yourself dedicated to a life of adventure where you’ll travel the whole world and experience everything it has to offer. Maybe you’re more suited to the domestic life. Maybe you’re just looking to get rich.
Some people just love their career too much to be distracted by a relationship. You want to be a writer, a scientist, an artist, a musician, an actor, a professional athlete, etc. You’re too preoccupied with pursuing your dream to be worried about finding the right person to be with. So you’d rather wait.
#2 People fall out of love. You recently got out of an 8-year relationship, and you feel as if the carpet was pulled beneath your feet. That’s normal. You think about all the time, effort, resources, and emotions that you invested. The fact that you’re back to square one frightens you, and you think you’ll never love again.
At this point, you feel tired of fighting for love to no avail, so you’d shut yourself out from other people, become cynical, and cautious. Sometimes if it’s really bad, it screws up your worldview and you end up becoming bitter. Hating couples, men, women, or whoever broke your heart.
#3 People have issues. Aside from previous relationship experiences, some people have personal issues that could affect their desire to pursue relationships. Betrayal of trust during childhood, parental abandonment, sexual abuse, low self-esteem, and anti-social behavior could account for some reasons why some people are afraid or experience difficulty forming meaningful relationships.
#4 Some people are unrealistic. You dismiss the people who show you genuine affection because it doesn’t “fit” your definition of love. Oftentimes, you live in the illusion that the longer the wait, the more magical it will be when the time comes.
Well, the only thing you accomplish is that you shut yourself from people who actually love you. Years later, you “stop” believing in love, because you think it’s not coming your way. But in fact, love has looked you in the eye many times before, but you ignored it because it’s not like how it happened in A Walk to Remember.
#5 You confuse love with something else. Let’s discuss two of the most confusing and most misleading aspects of finding love.
– Love and lust. Don’t get me wrong, lust isn’t bad. It only gets bad if you confuse love with lust. Love is wanting to spend quality time with your significant other to form meaningful experiences, while lust is being nice and doing her favors just to get into her pants. Remember, lust can be sated by a person or an object, while love grows and endures.
– Love at first sight. Only a few people can be graced with experiencing happily ever after the first time around. When we first experience love, we think it’s the real deal. Oftentimes, we are too young and too naive to realize that there’s more to real love than dates, strolls in the park while holding hands, and waking her up early in the morning by holding a playing boom box right in front of her house.
To pursue love or to wait for it?
Love can be described as something similar to breathing. You breathe in, and then breathe out. Doing too much of one is unhealthy, so one must take care to put love and oneself in a constant balance. There is no wrong answer to the question. Whether you choose to pursue it, or to wait for yourself to come to terms with it, you should always remember that in the end, it will serve to satisfy your happiness.
Relationships won’t work out the first time, but these failures always serve to teach us about ourselves and our significant other. Circumstances can place us in an advantage to pursue love, or shove us into the corner to be at the mercy of waiting. Try to consider these ideas to find out which of the two suits you most:
#1 Life is short. As mentioned, the modern world provides us with so many ways to live our life, and with it, little time. No one knows if your time here will be cut short by a mishap or illness, or if you get to live to a ripe old age. Remember the wisdom of the late Robin Williams: Carpe Diem.
If you like someone, don’t fire random shots in the air. Take the chance and get to know the person. Shared experiences are the most effective adhesive to form a strong relationship. The more experiences you share together, the easier for you to form a deeper kind of relationship.
#2 Learn from your mistakes. The common factor of your failed relationships is you. Not to demotivate, but maybe you should stop blaming and start introspecting. Notice that people who have been in a lot of failed relationships always put the blame on other things except on themselves.
Don’t get me wrong. Maybe you were indeed the victim and got cheated on, or maybe the relationship slowly died and lost its spark. But if you still linger on that relationship or put yourself in a similar self-destructive relationship pattern, don’t you think it’s about time to rethink your life and the choices you make? [
#3 Give and receive love equally. Love should be mutual for it to work. If this balance gets upset, the relationship may deteriorate and ultimately fall apart. Again, love is like breathing. This basic sense of fairness is the backbone of any relationship.
If you think your partner is not making any effort in the relationship and you’re unhappy, maybe it’s time to reconsider. But don’t be rash. Talk about it. Give it another chance for both your sakes. If it works, then great, if it doesn’t, it’s better. Nothing is worse than staying in a relationship that’s sucking your energy. Break up, learn, and move on. Back to number one, life is too short to be wasted on an undeserving relationship.
#4 Never close your door. There are times that you’ll feel tired and disillusioned about love. You’ve been in so many relationships that failed, even if you gave all your effort. It’s easy to end up closed to the world and bitter, but this will never ever do you good. Never stop loving. You can give all the reasons you want to never love again but sooner or later you’ll find yourself in that situation that made you fall in love in the first place.
#5 Finally, love yourself. If everything else fails, remember, the only person who could love and take care of you is yourself. This does not mean selfishness, but asserting the respect that you deserve. If in any case you find yourself single again, take some time for yourself. Go soul-searching. Maybe you’re looking for love in the wrong place or maybe it’s the wrong time. Rethink and rediscover the things that make you happy, and go for it.
When we reach adulthood, we want to search for a deeper kind of love, one that provides intimacy, as well as emotional and intellectual growth. One that’s based on shared experiences and memories. The kind of love that only one person could provide. As it was once said, you can say “I love you” to any person in your life but there is only one to whom you could say “I’m in love with you.”