Love is a feeling, being in love is a diagnosis
Being in love is an acute, euphoric state of mind that is characterised by a changed perception of reality, mixed-up priorities and unfounded optimism of an individual. It is most frequently cured by banging your head against the wall, by breaking your heart and rubbing reality onto the patient’s nose. To those being in love, that is to say, to the sick, the difference between love and being in love should be explained as early as possible, to prevent the sickness from spreading like wildfire.
It is necessary to repeat to them as often as possible that true love and strong relationships primarily mean both of you trying to get your shit together, simultaneous boat paddling through the strongest storm even though there is a hole in the boat, as well as running together in a heavy downpour and roaring thunder holding each other’s hands until you reach the first shelter, which you will probably have no idea where to find. It is crucial that you repeat these words ever so frequently so that all those who think love is a bed of roses, plain sailing and a walk down the beach at sunset with the waves tickling your feet should realise that there is more to love than that.
Love can only deserve the title “True” when it has passed all the tests, jumped over the hurdles, when it has risen from the ashes a couple of times, mastered the alchemy of transforming all the shit and gall life’s currents stir up in your everyday reality into gold flakes. This is how it proves itself, survives and, most important of all – how it grows. Nothing else is worthy of being deemed as nearly close to love, and it just remains an attempt, a good intention, an idea.
We almost all fail to understand this, because we have long been inculcated with phrases such as “and they lived happily ever after”, because magazines keep telling us that we are never going to find our better half without six-pack abs, or that females are going to drop dead alone without their stronger half who would give their life meaning if they happen to have cellulite. The system has started to teach us to love ourselves only through the impression other people have formed of us. This is why most people’s confidence has hit rock bottom. As a result, we have started thinking that we are worth only when others praise us, that we are beautiful only if others give us compliments, that we are clever only if other people admire us.
And so, torn between other people’s expectations and our own vanity, we stop respecting ourselves if we do not have someone who is going to be the proof of our worthiness. This is how we come to realise the truth that being in love is a process in which we use another person to love ourselves more. Being in love and lust are devil’s work and they usually imply taking, taking and taking some more, and that is far from love because love is about giving, giving and giving some more and letting go, letting go, then letting go some more. This is very hard for vanity to understand, because it is a single-phase current, while love uses renewable sources of energy, because vanity only communicates in a binary language, whereas love uses a silent language.
Do not give up on love so easily and quickly. Learn the difference between love and being in love, between betrayal and cheating, between a mistake and a sin, a relationship and a commitment, between “I miss you” and “you are missing from me”… You will have enough willpower and enough reasons to be more tolerant, tamer and freer. To be life companions. Start relationships not because you are unable to be alone, but because life is twice as beautiful when two able persons make each other’s lives more beautiful. Forever. Since true love is infinite. Maybe only somewhere there beyond forever, right after eternity, and then through a wormhole and then right there, if you stand on your toes and put your hand on your forehead to protect yourself from its dazzling light – maybe only then will you be able to discern its end. Though I doubt it even then.
Translated from the Serbian by Svetlana Milivojević-Petrović