There's an old adage that sums up the dynamic of the “right” romantic relationship in just six little words. I've read it in self-help books, and I've heard it from wise friends. I've sung along to it in romantic songs, and I've smiled -- then sighed -- at it in dramatic movies. I've lived my whole life by it, and I've put every ounce of faith I have in its power:
When you know, you just know.
Life is a truly beautiful thing. We fall in love with different people in different rhythms. Our first loves open our hearts in ways we didn't know they could open.
Once they've opened, they break, and we skeptically but surely sew them back up. When the time is right, we fall in love again -- only this time around, we love in a way that's just as intense, but perhaps a bit smarter.
It's this wave of opening and closing our hearts to the reincarnations of love that tests our strength and allows us to grow. And if we find ourselves falling in love many times with many people, we can be certain we are living life right.
But to "know when you know"? That's the end-all-be-all of dating. It's the decision that changes our lives forever. It's the final stop on the ride of opening, closing, re-opening and re-sewing of your heart.
But the thing about knowing is you've got to be ready for it, which leaves me at a crossroads: I don't know, and I don't want to know just yet.
What I do want to know instead is that there's more to the life that's ahead of me, the life I create before choosing to settle down. And this crossroads has diffused into an internal battle I struggle with every day.
I’m holding myself back from a potentially great boyfriend because I’m afraid he might turn into my husband. And even if that person is the right person, I’m not looking for husband material just yet.
Right now, I’m looking for the cool boyfriend: the one who will make my heart race, make my palms sweat and make me wait one day too long to call me back. The one who will keep me on my toes and play with my heart. The one who will tell me he loves me, and then take that love away from me.
I want someone. I don't want “The One.”
I don’t want to feel married 10 years before I’m married.
The One is out there, but I want to explore more than one option. I want to fall in love with a guarded heart and a youthful energy, the way you do when you're naïve and reckless, yet you still know it's too good be true.
I've got my whole life ahead of me to play the role of doting wife and loving mother. For now, I'd like to master the role of free-spirited girlfriend.
I'll be damned if the next person I kiss is the last person I kiss.
I want my relationship to be the icing on the cake, not the whole cake.
I want to build an empire. Create something from nothing. Do what I love, and love the way I do it.
Those are my current goals, the things on which I'm most focused. What isn't included in that list is falling in love and staying in love, and making something work that isn’t supposed to work at this moment in time.
Being in a lifelong love is not of the utmost importance to me.
I want to grow with someone, then grow apart from him.
I want him to hold my hand and take me on adventures, and I’ll allow myself to take each new experience in stride.
He'll show me places I've never been, and I'll put my trust in him while anticipating the end before the courtship even begins.
And when it is over, I won't look back and dwell on what could have been; I'll remember how he opened my eyes to things I'll tell my children about one day.
I want to have my heart broken one last time.
My heart has been stolen and stomped on. It's been ripped from my chest and tampered with.
In the midst of the pain, I would have done anything to keep it from happening. But it wasn't until I came out the other side still breathing that I appreciated just how strong it made me.
For that reason, I want to be in unrequited love again. I want that crazy, passionate, bad-for-me love that teaches me endlessly through its addictive highs and shattering lows.
Because my heartbreak made me who I've become, and I've become a fiercely independent person.
I know that when the universe feels I'm ready, I'll fall in love with The One. And when that day comes, I'll have learned more about life, love and myself than I even thought I knew was possible.