What If It Wasn't Love
Because old love isn't love.
Posted Feb 27, 2018
We all have that one love experience we compare all others to. Usually, this experience happened when we were younger. For some, it was in high school. Others, it was in their twenties. We remember it like it was yesterday: That deep, warm feeling of losing yourself in someone, like sinking into a hot bath after a long day of snow.
I’ve been there. I’ve been under. It’s paralyzing, in a good way. Pure dopamine into the heart with a needle. Makes you feel invincible. All your problems go away—well, at least for a little bit. Because it was also lined with control, jealousy, and dependence, which creates distortion and gets me to ask the question: Was it really love?
I recently wrote a post titled "What is true adult intimacy?" At 44, I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced it. I mean, I thought I had until a recent visit to my therapist. I know I’ve experienced lust. I’ve experienced undeniable chemistry and connection. I’ve experienced hot sex. But true adult intimacy, love without dependence? Love that’s not loaded, labeled, and processed? Love that’s grown and nurtured? Love with communication? Love that’s aged like fine wine? A mature love? Love that comes with responsibility and awareness of self? Love that sharpens each other instead of feeding into the sticky? Love with safe containers? Love with mindfulness? Nonjudgmental love? Love not compared or lopsided? Love with legs?
I believe I came close a few years ago. But I don’t think I have experienced true adult intimacy. I mean, I have loved hard. But there’s a difference between loving hard and experiencing a healthy adult relationship. This is not to blame the other person. Maybe I wasn’t ready or there yet. So is it fair to compare young love, the love that created that creator-size imprint in our heart, to the love we are experiencing today? Of course not. It’s apples and oranges.
Here’s the other thing: If you go back to where you had your first fight; if you go back to your first-grade classroom; if you go back to where you carved your initials into that tree; if you go back to the house you grew up in, what do you notice? Everything is smaller. Why? Because the memory of these things is from younger eyes. As an adult, when you think about these memories, they are still big, because those memories are still from your younger eyes. The memory doesn’t change, even though you have.
The same is true of love.
Some are actually lucky enough to reconnect with their first true love as an adult and experience the gap. Based on the powerful connection from the past, they give Round Two a shot many years later, and of course, it’s not the same. Like watching your favorite movie again years later, it may be good, but it’s not the same. It doesn’t have the same impact. Partly because you know what’s going to happen. But also because the freshness is gone. Because you are a different person today, and what moves you is different.
I say these people are “lucky,” because most of us don’t get to experience this gap. So we carry our old love stories in our head, and that ends up being the bar/standard to which we measure other relationships. And it’s not fair, because it’s not accurate. So we end up chasing something that’s false. We chase memories, not true love.
Old love wasn’t love. Old love was chaos, confusing, filling a lot of holes. Old love was learning, discovery, and not knowing. Old love was experimental and impulsive. Old love was destruction. Old love wasn’t love.
New love has a chance.
So stop comparing what was with what is. Stop holding old love up on a high shelf, because it doesn't belong there. It belongs in clearance. It's outdated. You are different today. What you want and are attracted to is different. And it doesn't live in your head. It lives here. Lean into it. Live it. Create a new love experience that eclipses all others.
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