The 5 W's And 1 H: What 6 Different Relationships Taught Me About Love

by Jessica Ma

If every person is as unique as a snowflake, then every relationship is as different and complex as an avalanche. Each one is going to be filled with specific memories, nuanced inside jokes, distinct arguments and unforgettable lessons.

Six people have taught me my six biggest lessons in love. Be it language lessons, life lessons or letting go lessons, each of them has made a deep impression on my mind and subsequent behavior.

No matter how tragic the end of a relationship, one can always see a purpose behind the experience. My motto is "I can bear any pain as long as it has meaning."

They were beautiful. They were painful. But I have nothing but gratitude for the meaning they each brought to my life.

1. To K, The One Who Taught Me "How"

When I was 16, I met someone who was 1 percent body and 99 percent soul. He was an artist, a painter, a poet, a photographer and a musician. And above all, he was a lover.

He used me as the subject of his projects, transforming this ordinary girl into masterpieces. They were breathtaking, yet unfinished works, and he was never quite satisfied with them.

“You’re too much to replicate, even imitate. It makes me blissfully frustrated,” he used to always say.

To this day, no other feeling has ever quite compared to the unparalleled flattery of being his muse.

When someone makes you feel deeply, you want to do justice to the expression of said feeling. It's almost an insult to yourself when you can't find the right words or ways to articulate that powerful emotion inside of you.

Thank you for loving me with a love that was young, yet far from childish.

2. To Z, The One Who Taught Me "What"

When I was 18, I fell for a friend who surpassed me by decades in maturity, which was both a blessing and a curse.

It was a blessing because it was the kind of love I needed when the rest of my life felt like pure chaos. It was a curse because I was a teenager, refusing to be cured of my Peter Pan Syndrome.

He is easily one of the most attractive people I've ever known.

He had an athletic body and the most sincere smile. But what he gave me was a lot more fulfilling than eye candy.

I loved his beautiful mind, resilience, faith, self-discipline and freakish intelligence.

He was stubbornly ambitious and unfairly talented. He was someone who moved, inspired, pushed and surprised. He made me laugh, let me think, made me hurt and helped me heal.

Thank you for giving me more than meets the eye, and for encouraging me to develop my own "more."

3. To M, The One Who Showed Me "Where"

When I was 21, I let myself be possessed by someone who thought of me as a possession.

I'm aware of how disgusting jealousy can be. It's a feeling that taps into almost every other negative emotion we're capable of.

From a relationship that insidiously morphed into a dictatorship, I learned something that should've been so obvious.

People do not belong to each other

What you should receive from loving another is simply the chance to learn, grow and laugh with him or her. You should be good to each other in the limited time we're given in our lives.

He showed me where demons live. Insecurity, pride, jealousy and anger set up camp dangerously close to "love." And if love doesn't compel you to rise above it, those feelings are susceptible to leaking in.

4. To A, The One Who Taught Me "When"

When I was 22, I lost one of the most influential and important people in my life.

When I met him, I was 12 years old, and I experienced my first crush. A decade later, I experienced my first loss.

I moved on from viewing him as just a crush, of course. My love for him is so timeless because I feel like I’ve been through it all with him. Ranges and categories of love have been condensed and zeroed in on this single human being.

I’ve idolized him and crushed on him as an innocent middle schooler. I’ve resented him and been bullied by him like a little sister.

I’ve grown to appreciate him as a friend. I’ve respected and looked up to him as an adult.

I guess you could say I’ve loved him for a lifetime. And this makes me smile. It makes me proud.

It’s the best thing I’ve done to date.

Losing him absolutely convinced me that our ultimate purpose in life is to love one another.

We are not inhabitants of the universe. We are the universe. He lives as a part of me.

This is what Albert taught me, in life and death.

There is a bigger picture. Trust it. Be empowered by your role in it. In the end, we’re all made of stardust.

Thank you for teaching me the most important quality of love. When love is real, it truly is forever.

Rest in peace, my friend. I will always love you.

5. To R, The One Who Taught Me "Why"

When I was 23, I met someone who saved my heart by breaking it.

When it became clear neither of us was prepared or willing to mend our collective wounds, I still held on.

Maybe I was hopeful. Maybe I didn't want to be alone.

Or maybe, I just don't know how to commit to my actions.

Whatever the reason, I stubbornly tightened my grip on "us," refusing to admit the grip itself was only further damaging us.

He finally let go. Or, more accurately, he forced me to. He taught me why, sometimes, love doesn't matter.

There are things larger than love. The fear of losing someone should pale in comparison to the fear of losing yourself.

Thank you for pulling the Band-Aid off and giving me a chance to heal without you.

6. To J, The One Who Taught Me "Who"

I know I have a lot left to learn. But what I do know is that I love him.

We love each other imperfectly. Sometimes, we hurt each other. It happens. We're both human.

But we know we have the best intentions for each other. And as we grow together, it's more and more evident how much of a transformative power love can hold. It can change cynics to romantics and pessimists to believers.

He didn't even have to try.

He showed me I don't have to be perfect to be loved, and love doesn't have to be perfect to be worth it.

Thank you for letting me love you as you.