Pursuing Love in a Digital Age


January 14, 2020

I’ve recently become in love with the idea of love. What it means. What it looks like. And most importantly, what it feels like.

That wasn’t always the case. The very thought of it used to kind of make me gag. And I guess if I’m 100% honest, a little part of me still does here and there. But the overwhelming majority of me has grown to love watching people learn to love.

I’m pretty sure that love is tougher to pursue in some ways these days. People get lost in the ‘hidden meanings’ in digital messages, and overthink to the point of destruction. I know it’s true – I’ve done it more times than I can count. We ghost, breadcrumb, orbit, bench, stash, curve, and have situationships. It’s really, really confusing. And if you don’t know what those terms are, then I guess that just goes to show how confusing it truly is, dear reader.

It’s been really interesting to see the rise of enneagram, astrology, and Meyers-Briggs readings. We put so much faith in those things to measure our compatibility when it really just boils down to the willingness and desire of both partners to communicate in effective ways.

We also live in a digital age, where we start to lose faith in our significant other for not surprising us with rose-petalled pathways leading to an earth-shattering love letter left on our beds. We get upset at our partners for not offering large, expensive gestures of affection that enable us to break 1,000 likes on Instagram like @_______’s boyfriend did. It’s a comparison game. And the worst part is that half the time, we don’t even recognize we’re playing it.

In a world with enneagrams, astrology, and various personality types, we also live in a world with 7 billion people and an infinite number of ways they choose to say “I love you.”

It may not be rose-petalled pathways leading to romantic happenings, but it might mean that they hold the door open for you so you always know you’re their priority.

It may not mean surprising you at work with a dozen red roses and a box of chocolates for no reason, but it might mean they drop that important project they were working diligently on to come soothe you when your mental health waivers.

Sometimes it means telling you how proud of you they are.

Or helping you practice a presentation you’re nervous about, even though they have a million and one other things on their to-do list.

Growing up, I thought love was merely a feeling. I was incredibly wrong – for it is a choice. And sometimes, it’s a hard one to make.

It means choosing to put in the effort to work with your partner day and in day out, even if neither of you want to on that particular day.

It’s figuring out what your love languages are – both yours and your partner’s – so that you learn to recognize how they say “I love you” on a daily basis, beyond those three little words rolled off the tongue.

Sometimes it means holding in what you’re dying to say in that very moment, so you can learn to listen and learn to have a two-way conversation.

It means telling someone how you feel even when you don’t want to. Or walking them through your thought process, even though you may not know what you’re feeling in that exact point in time.

Though it can be challenging and drive you up the wall sometimes, the growth you endure is rewarding in itself. Everyone we meet has something to teach us and a lot of the time we don’t learn the lesson until a large amount of time has passed.

I think one of the most important things I’ve come to learn near the end of 2019 is that love stories don’t have time constraints. We tend to place these constraints on ourselves. Because our hometown friends are getting engaged or married and starting their families so young, we feel like we’re behind. But we aren’t. We discount their feelings toward each other, claiming that they’re too young to know what they really want. That may not be the case. Maybe they truly have found their human, and maybe we ought to stop discounting other people’s stories without knowing their narrative just because we decide to pull out our measuring stick of comparison. And maybe we should just be genuinely happy for them.

There’s no rulebook telling us that we have to find ‘the one’ by a certain age, and settle down by the time we’re 25.

It’s important to note that there also isn’t a rule claiming that we have to wait until our 30s to settle down and have kids.

There’s no law telling you that you have to get engaged 5 years into dating.

And there’s no law telling you that you can’t get married after your very first date.

I know people that waited over 10 years to tie the knot, and I know some people that quite literally met on a train abroad and eloped the next day.

We’re all on our own timelines, which can be exciting if you let it be. There’s a digital measuring stick we tend to pick up when we go through our daily timelines and catch ourselves accidentally comparing our lives to our friends’.

It’s probably time to put those away, and focus on our own journeys.

The person you’ll end up spending your entire life with?

…is looking right at you in the mirror.

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