Love changes us, plain and simple. We are one person before we fall in love, and another completely different person after. And as much as we may try to return to that former being, for whatever reason, we cannot.
Love is an unstoppable force that leaves a permanent mark on our souls and alters facets of our personality. The changes can be good, bad or both.
So if this happens, why doesn't anybody warn us? Why is it that when we fall in love, all we are told is how grand it is to feel that magical connection, to be living a Disney-like fairytale? Why is it that nobody tells us the truth about falling in love, however cynical some of it may sound?
Well, here are a few truths no one has told you:
1. You change, forever.
Love alters who you are, for better or worse at times. It can make you more compassionate and giving, yet it can also make you weak and overly compromising.
Love can be good or bad, in moments or overall, and that good or bad love can make or break who you are. But regardless of what kind of love it is, you are marked by it. You can never be the person you were before love entered your life because once love touches you, life doesn't seem the same without it.
2. “I” is no longer clear.
The clear sense of identity you spent years building during your childhood and early college years is taken by love and distorted into something new.
When we fall in love, there are times when we feel as if we no longer know ourselves. They may be fleeting moments that we quickly overcome and find our footing again, but there may also be longer stretches of time we never fully recover from. We may lose pieces of our identity along the way, not because we have sacrificed them on purpose, but because we forgot and then failed to remember.
3. Compromise and sacrifice are your top resume skills.
Love is never a constant 50/50 game, no matter what online dating articles tell you. No relationship, no real relationship, is every equal at all times. Love is a give and take relationship, built on the pillars of compromise and sacrifice.
The 50/50 only applies in the long haul, when you can look back at 20 years and say yep, we both did X or Z. In the shorter moments, a relationship is constantly changing between who makes the sacrifice and who doesn't.
It's often a gambling of “do we choose the middle option,” or, “do we play rock, paper, scissors to determine who does X?” Perhaps that sounds slightly cynical, but it's really not.
In the long-term, a relationship should include sacrifice and compromise on both parties' sides, but as those actually occur, one person may make more in the first five years and the other person more in the next 10 years. There's not really a rule that says it has to be 50/50 all the time.
4. Decisions are not always easy to make anymore.
If you're truly in love, decisions, at least big life-altering ones, no longer are a simple “yes” or “no” choice. If you love someone, they are suddenly part of any big decision you face, whether they ask to be or not.
If you're in a long-term relationship, the question of “the future” plays a large role in determining where you live, what you do for a living, travel, moving, etc. Nothing is simple anymore if it impacts you for longer than a month.
5. Your priorities may (and often) change or shift.
When you meet someone and start dating, you hold true to the priorities of single-hood. When you end up in a lasting relationship and are in love, those priorities shift and change as “YOU” becomes “WE.”
While you may have met and held your career first, love second, fun third, now it's possible that you have shifted to put love first, career second and added more like family, finances and more to the list before “fun.”
But the biggest change is that “career” vs. “love” switch. Sometimes you don't have to make the switch, or you may not want to, but for many the career vs. significant other question arises often, and it can strengthen or destroy any relationship.
6. You are more sensitive (emotional).
Love means opening yourself to another, baring your soul and self to someone who can either care for both or destroy both. And when this open giving occurs, we are left raw and unprotected.
Our emotions are pulled to the forefront of our being as love entraps us in a deliciously warm embrace, and we are consequently more susceptible to bouts of sadness, laughter, pain, anger and joy. Love removes our shields and forces us to face our feelings, even when we want to escape them.
7. It can build you up as easy as it can destroy you.
Love is an unmeasurable power with the ability to make us feel on seventh heaven one moment and then drowning in an ocean of despair the next. When we are in love and are happy, it is as though nothing can harm us. If that love is taken away -- if we are dumped or rejected -- it takes seconds for love to make us feel as though the world is crashing in and we are worth nothing.
And depending on how long we have been in love, it may truly destroy us. Love can direct us toward a bright future or it can abandon us as an empty vessel, devoid of any purpose, passion, direction or desire to move. Love can be stalwart or it can be fickle. And unfortunately, it's never up to us to decide because, even if we dumped the other person, we still get hurt.
I probably sound like a cynical person now, but in reality, I'm a hopeless romantic. I love a man who requires more sacrifice than compromise right now and yet I still love him. I've been hurt in the past and have a collection of memories that often erupt into a fountain of distrustful anger or quiet resentfulness. I have seen love make couples stronger, and I have seen it destroy someone. I have seen it grow and flourish as often as I have seen it fail and falter for no visible reason at all.
But the final thing that nobody really tells you about love?
8. Sometimes, you have to fight for it.
Love isn't easy. Don't buy that "it should be easy" or "you shouldn't have to work at it" crap. You will have good times and bad, hard times and easy times. And if you want it to workout, if you want to keep moving forward, keep love growing and flourishing, sometimes you have to fight for it.
I'm not saying to fight for a hopeless relationship in which one person gives 100 percent and the other gives 0 percent, but you should fight for the love that has promise, passion and purpose. Fight for the love that you can envision a future with, even if that future never comes to fruition. Why? Because if you don't fight for it, you will look back one day and ask yourself, “would my life have been different if I had?”