Love is kind of an asshole if you think about it. Love is a selfish, scheming creature that has its own timing and agenda with absolutely no regard for your feelings. It’s never there when you seek it, no matter how much you want it or how deserving you are.
You’re lonely, and on some days, desperate; but love won’t come to your side. You were voted “Best Looking” in high school and you still have a rocking bod; love has no interest in aesthetics. You enjoy a successful career, give to charity, and have a heart of gold. Love just yawns and shrugs.
If you’ve already discovered the nasty nature of love and you’re now over it and focusing on other things in life, then let me be the first to congratulate you. You, my friend, have bright days ahead because you’ve outsmarted love, and you’re saving yourself from much regret, heartache, and frustration.
As for me, I was on to love’s crafty ways. In fact, I figured it out a very long time ago in my puppy love days. One might ask, what does a child know about love? A lot. Sure, my experiences with it were short-lived with a different love each day. Nonetheless, I feverishly chased those boys as if it were a matter of survival, and didn’t think twice about professing my love to them. It was excruciating; but, it was real love. Alas, unrequited love; still, love.
Call me a romantic or a masochist, or just plain idiotic, but even though I already had tasted love’s torment, I persisted in my hot pursuit of love. It defined my twenties, all summed up as monthly boyfriends, blind dates, meetups disguised as volunteer and recreational groups, and online dating websites. I even devoted myself as a student of love, literally. I chose interpersonal relationships as the emphasis of my communications major, and wrote my last scientifically researched college essay on breakups. My idea of recreation was studying the art of seduction and devouring books and podcasts on relationships. I thought that if I worked hard for love and wanted it badly enough I would eventually obtain it, like the American dream or something. But, love proved unpatriotic.
Dating was exciting at first, but the thrill of dressing up and going out with someone new grew stale and eventually all of the time and effort I invested became downright embarrassing. It wasn’t just that these guys, almost simultaneously, were making up their minds that I wasn’t the one for them. It was also having to deal with the strong suspicion that even the universe was rejecting me in its ignorance of all my good intentions and noble proactiveness. Dating became a source of pressure because after meeting the eleventh guy in two weeks, there just had to be some kind of cut off point before someone stepped in and created a happy ending with me.
By 28, I was done with the chase. I decided to put love on hold (as if I were going anywhere with it). I was as lonely and cynical as ever, and I felt extremely compromised. And what’s a girl to do when love doesn’t work out the way she had planned? Dye and chop off her hair, prioritize career goals and re-discover herself. I took it a step further and decided to skip the country.
The plan was to continue my teaching career and start afresh in China. While love was uncooperative and difficult to acquire, the job market in China was merciful and sympathetic to me. I immediately got hired by an elementary school, had all of my documents verified, and I was set to go in a month’s time.
And then, one Friday night, I went to a bar and met my future husband. China never happened.
I didn’t necessarily have my life in order nor did I make a significant improvement on myself before meeting him. What is significant, however, is that love found me when I finally learned to turn my gaze from it, and focus elsewhere and inward. When my husband found me, he didn’t have my beefed-up online profile to reference. He didn’t catch me sending him come-hither looks while I pretended to pack food for the hungry. He saw me, in all my imperfections and emotional baggage, but as someone in love with herself.
Love, in its supreme selfishness and lack of respect for plans, found me. There are but a few guarantees in life, and I’m about to share one of them with you: Love will come upon you, uninvited and unannounced. It will tap you on the shoulder while you’re occupied with working on the relationship with yourself.
Search for love, and you’ll end up with its imposter. Love has a target on your back. Not the other way around. Let it find you.
Now, what to do with love afterward is another story.