Why True Love Isn't A Rapid Fire, It's A Slow Burn

by Zara Barrie

I've always been the kind of girl who finds herself in the throes of a "rapid fire romance." The kind who recklessly dives head first into the feels of "love" before she knows what (and who) she's doing. The kind who exchanges raw, wild-eyed "I love yous" too quickly.

The kind who only realizes she's "falling" once she's hit the f*cking ground.

I've "fallen in love" with women whose gazes I've met across a crowded subway car. I've "fallen in love" with people I've drunkenly made out with at an after-hours party in the East Village. I've "fallen in love" on first dates. I've "fallen in love" online.

The pattern looks like this:

I am miserable and displaced at a sh*t party somewhere in Brooklyn. It's not my scene. I'm there for work or for a friend.

I'm quiet most of the night, tucked away, invisible in my own little corner. I suck back a tasteless cocktail like it's the last cocktail on earth.

Just when I'm ready to make my low-key exit, I catch the eye of another misfit entity.

I'm wildly attracted to her, but far too shy to approach her. (I'm spineless when it comes to making the first move.) She will be aggressive by nature and will confidently strut her long, denim-clad legs right over to me, the shy girl in the dress.

She'll say "Hi." And that's all it'll take. I'm her's for the night.

We will discover that we both hate this contrived Brooklyn party and find somewhere grossly cliche to be alone, like the "fire escape." We will kiss until the wicked sunlight explodes across the polluted sky. She will take my number down because I'm too stunted to ask for her's.

I will see her again the following night. We will say things like "Wow, I feel like I've known you forever," even though we don't know each other.

We will say things like "I've never felt this way before," even though we don't know each other.

We will say "I love you." Even though we don't know each other.

Our entire relationship will work in reverse. Everything will start out a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Explosions. Fireworks. F*cking all night long. F*cking all over the apartment. F*cking over text. F*cking over FaceTime. F*cking over the phone.

But when the f*cking subsides, all the ugly loose ends we overlooked (values, lifestyles, addictions) will start to unravel before our pretty little eyes.

Each time we see each other, we will like each other a little bit less. Before long, we realize we are two strangers with nothing in common, entangled in a relationship.

We will hold on to the fantasy until we can't take it anymore. It usually ends on dramatic terms.

It's easy to say "I love you. You're perfect. Don't ever change. Oh baby, this is true love" when you're clutching each other naked after a night of mind-blowing sex.

But when sh*t has gone down, and you're falling apart, and she doesn't show up the moment you need her the most, you realize, F*ck. I. Don't. Know. This. Person. At. All.

That's not to say you're an innocent party. It takes two to play out a fantasy. You were two lonely people desperate to fall in love like they fall in love in the movies and songs that drug us.

It's no different than that seemingly sweet little bump of white powder that makes you feel sky high for 10 minutes and is followed by a dark, hollow comedown. As you stew in the pain of the aftermath, you realize you only ever felt good because you were on drugs, not because you were authentically happy.

I'm done with these druggy-type relationships. Because I'm starting to realize that love isn't a rapid fire; it's a slow burn.

You can't love someone at first sight, even though art sometimes tells us we can. You can't love someone you don't know. You can't have deep, penetrating feelings for a total stranger. Those feelings aren't real feelings. They are fantasy feelings.

Strangers are easy to fall in love with. You don't know them, so you can project anything on to them, and they can do the same to you.

But love, real, sustainable love, is something that builds over time.

I want to like a girl a little bit more every time I see her. I want to love her the more I get to know her. I want to fall in love with her ideas, her values, her flaws, the way she not only handles the good times but the bad times.

I want the sex to get better every time. In my past relationships, the sex starts out intense and obsessive and quickly fizzles into nothingness.

The next time I meet a girl who tells me she loves me on the first date, I'm going to run like hell in the other direction. Even if it doesn't feel natural. Breaking patterns always feels weird at first.

Because truth be told, I don't have time for fantasies anymore. I want something real. I don't want to be someone's filler. I don't want to be left with gaping holes.

I want to have relationships that are built on a foundation of love, not co-dependency. I've been down that road, and guess what? It's a dead end. I'm turning the car around.

I'm a passionate person by nature. I'm going to feel a lot of feelings. I know this. But I need to be careful of where I pour those feelings. Pouring them into art and friendship is safe. Pouring them into strangers isn't.

I want to get to know you. Really get to know you.

I want to unfold into your body slowly. It's so much sweeter that way. It's more intense that way, but it's a different kind of intensity. It's an intensity that has room to grow and expand. A little spark of fire always turns into hot flames. It just takes time.

When it comes too quickly, I'm going to blow it right the f*ck out.