We can all admit there was that one person (or several) during our junior high and high school years we thought was “the One”. A select few may have even married their “high school sweetheart”. Others probably dated someone for a few years and eventually went separate ways. But how do we know if what we shared was actually love? Or was it infatuation? Or lust? How do we know what we had with someone in the past isn’t what we have now, or think we could eventually have in the future?
Whether you’re in a new or long-term relationship, married, separated or divorced (yes, I actually know of many college students who have gone through each), we do wonder about our previous loves. We wonder why the love we feel now is different from the love we felt then. If we’re single, we ask ourselves if we’ll ever find a love in the future like the one we had in the past. Maybe our current relationship is on the rocks, or maybe it’s at its peak. Understand that each one will feel and live out to be different than the last.
Reason being, there is more than one type of love and different ways to love someone. Friendship, marriage, flings, what have you, they each come with unique responsibilities and goals. When you romantically love someone, you envision certain things. You picture a potential future with them. This is normal. After all, that’s usually why you date someone, to see if they fit well with you and you with him or her. But let’s say things change; your dreams, or theirs, redevelop. The two of you end and you’re back in the dating world. Now what? Was it all real? Were you two just living in a fantasy? Did you really love one another like you said everyday?
Honestly, yes, you probably did. Don’t assume that what the two of you had was just an exaggerated form of lust. Did they interact with your friends? Did you introduce them to your family? Did you confide in and trust one another? Did you make plans? Take trips? Compromise? Laugh? Cry? Show affection? That’s not fake – that’s life. What the two of you shared was a form of love. It may have not been everlasting, “until death do us part” love, but it was certainly love.
There will be days you’ll miss it. You’ll think about the great times you shared, the memorable conversations and the minutes, weeks, or years you’ll never get back nor share with anyone else. You wonder if you’ll ever find this kind of love again. And then it happens. You meet someone fantastic and the two of you hit it off. Things are going great, you’re happy again and love is in the air. But is it real? You thought it was real last time and it wasn’t. How do you know if what you have now is the real deal?
There is no right answer to this. There is no rulebook or manual that teaches a person the forms of love. The only possible response to such a specific question is this:
You’re probably thinking, “That’s it? Okay, Yoda. Thanks for nothing.”
I hate to break it to you, but time is the only way you’ll know if what you have is the kind of love that lasts an eternity. For starters, you need to stop comparing what you have now with what you had then. There is a reason why some relationships end and others don’t. Believe it or not, you probably already know the reasons. Why did the two of you go your separate ways? What was it about them that made you want to explore something else? Did they ever tell you why they broke it off? If you don’t know these answers, find out. If you don’t find out, you’ll always wonder and this in turn will eventually affect your current or future relationship. It’s a little thing (which is actually a big thing) called “closure”. It’s more important than you think. If you don’t know why your previous relationships ended, you’ll never know how to keep your current one going.
Failed relationships are a part of your past for good reason. You need to learn from them. Whether or not you’re bitter or resentful from what you had before, you need to accept what happened, learn from it and be sure to never make the same mistakes again. Your past loves should teach you the qualities you liked and disliked about a person. You should have learned how to compromise, apologize and let go. More than anything, you should have better learned yourself.
So if you’re still questioning your past, you need to deal with it before deciding on your future. If your partner loves you, don’t make them question it because you’re unsure of your love for them. Talk to them about how you’re feeling. If you’re truly comfortable with expressing your thoughts, you should be able to talk to them about this. Believe or not, this conversation will probably bring the two of you closer. Remind them you’ve been in love before and felt love this way for another person. It’s okay for them to know you’ve been in love more than once because chances are, so have they. Not all of us instantly know whether someone is “the One” for us. What you’re feeling shouldn’t be frowned upon – you’re human. There’s nothing wrong with discussing your level of love for one another.
The only person who can truly answer the question “is this the real deal or not?” is the two of you, which you will learn over time. How will you know?
You’ll be together forever. Cheesy, I know, but it’s that simple.