20th June 2024

By Kirstie Taylor

Falling in love is like trying to describe the color yellow.

You can gesture at a flower or point to the sun and say, “that’s yellow,” but you may burn your eyes. You could describe it as green, with a little less blue. You could even associate it with feelings of warmth and happiness. But there’s no single definition for the color yellow.

The same goes for falling in love.

If someone asked you what falling in love is, you’d probably have trouble. You could give scenarios of people running through the airport to stop someone from getting on a flight or a man holding a boombox outside of a woman’s window.

Or maybe you’d draw on your experiences; perhaps you’ve been in love or thought you were at some point in the past. Maybe your parents are madly in love, or they divorced when you were young.

But until you’re without a doubt in love, you’ll never really know.

I’ve told a total of six men I loved them; half a dozen times, I “fell in love.” But it wasn’t until my current boyfriend — arguably one of the few healthy relationships I’ve been in — that falling in love surprised me.

And through my current relationship and the five before that, I’ve learned a few hard truths about falling in love.

1. Falling in love might take time.

I met my boyfriend, Nish, at my birthday party three and a half years ago. We were friends for two years before we were both single at the same time.

I’d casually mentioned how cute I thought Nish was to a friend who also knew him. She squealed with excitement, “You should totally date him! He’s the sweetest!”

And I’d like to say the rest was history, but that wasn’t the case.

Nish and I did end up dating, but at the time, I had a history of being attracted to cocky, egotistical guys. Nish’s sweet, “nice guy” mannerisms scared me.

I ended things after the third date. We went back to being friends. But I felt a twinge of regret creep up inside me that I made the wrong decision.

Luckily, seven months after our initial first date, we rekindled our flame at a friend’s going away party. This time, I was set on working through my aversion to Nish’s kindness, and, slowly, I fell in love with the kindest man I know.

Don’t fall for the notion of “love at first sight” or fireworks being the only indicator that you could potentially fall for someone. Sometimes, the greatest things take time.

2. It’s going to be scary AF.

Once it was clear that things were going well with Nish, I started to worry (as I tend to do) about what that meant for our relationship.

Now, don’t get me wrong. You don’t need to know from the first “I love you” whether you’ll walk down the aisle, but Nish was one of the only men I could picture myself being happy with for a very, very long time.

With my exes, part of me always knew things wouldn’t work out. But with Nish, our connection was very real. I’d committed to a man who wasn’t messing around.

Falling in love with someone who was everything I ever wanted should’ve felt easy. But instead, it felt frightening that I’d mess things up somehow, or something would happen to him.

When you fall in love, you’re being vulnerable with someone new. You might be scared by that experience, especially if it’s with someone you’d bet all your money on. The stakes feel high, and that can be terrifying.

3. Falling in love won’t make you happy.

Sure, it’ll make you happy at certain moments (though it can also make you sad, annoyed, and feel like you lost hope). But it’ll only be a temporary happiness. Not that sustaining life-happiness that everyone wants.

I’d been deeply unhappy for most of my early twenties after an emotionally abusive relationship in college. During that time, I developed an eating disorder and still ignored the depression I had since middle school.

I thought a relationship would help things; if I found someone who wasn’t “such a jerk” like my ex, everything would be better. What ended up happening was that I put a bandaid on a gaping wound and thought that would be enough.

A little over a year before I started dating Nish, I made a promise to myself. I’d stay single for an entire year and use that time to focus on myself.

And the results were beautiful. For once in my life, I was OK with being alone.

Falling in love is a mysterious process. There are a lot of uncertainties. If you believe that it will make you happy, when you’re not happy to begin with, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

4. You may fall out of love.

The emotionally abusive ex I dated in college didn’t start on a bad note. In fact, it started in a passionate whirlwind of feelings.

I met him at a table read for a project my colleague at work was filming. His name was Sean; an actor/model in Los Angeles.

What followed was quick and intoxicating; we saw each other almost every single day for weeks. We hiked, ate great foods, and he told me he loved me after a few weeks of dating. I thought that if soulmates were real, Sean was mine.

But six months into dating, Sean’s doting words became nasty criticisms. I watched the facade of the charming man who stole my heart crumble into a hideous monster who hurt me every day. I thought Sean was forever, but he was merely a lesson.

So yes, you may fall out of love. You may have your heartbroken. But with every love you do fall into, you learn more about yourself and create memories along the way.

Don’t let the fear of heartbreak keep you from loving altogether.

5. It’s about more than sexual chemistry.

A relationship is like a complex recipe. You need every ingredient or else you’ll end up with a failed replica of that Pinterest souffle you found.

You may think you can fall in love based on sexual chemistry, but that’s like only having eggs to make your recipe.

With Nish, I’ve realized our sex life comes low on our list of relationship priorities. I know this is different for everyone, so I don’t bring this up as a relationship standard.

But I bring it up because, regardless of the relationship, you’d be pressed to find a couple that’s truly in love who ranks sex as the number one factor in their relationship.

You can’t sustain a relationship based on the fluctuating hormones that happen during your time in bed. That’s fleeting, and if so, your relationship wouldn’t exist outside of having sex.

Falling in love is seeing another person for all of who they are: their personality, passions, weaknesses, and whether they snore at night. It’s accepting all these aspects of a person and still wanting to spend your time with them, regardless if they’re naked.

6. The mundane will feel a little less stale.

Between groceries, work, bills, rent, cutting your hair, and buying toilet paper, life can feel monotonous at times. But love is sneaky in that it makes those repetitive parts of life feel a little less stale.

Nish and I moved into a cute West Hollywood apartment together about four months ago. Most of our days are the same: we wake up, I make coffee, we both begin work, we eat lunch together, more work, and then we watch TV at night. Sure, there’s a bit of variation thrown in sometimes, but our lives are basically on a loop.

But, as cheesy as this sounds, I’ve found that things never get old.

Watching TV with Nish is one of my favorite things to do. Seeing his smile every morning puts a pep in my step for the workday. Even doing things like a grocery store run or cleaning the apartment feels less like a chore simply because he’s there.

And that’s part of the equation of falling in love. The other person gives all the dull parts of life more energy. Not all the time, of course, but a lot of the time.

7. You’ll fall in love over and over.

I’ve been in relationships that, when the puppy love faded, there wasn’t much left. Every now and then, there would be glimpses of enamorment or lust, but there wasn’t much else.

Now that I’m in a relationship with someone who I not only love like crazy but who I also feel mutual respect, admiration, compassion, and patience for, I’ve fallen in love with him multiple times.

When you meet someone with whom everything comes together — passion, friendship, same life goals, timing, and chemistry — two things happen. You’re often reminded why you fell in love with them in the first place. And you grow together.

The latter is the important part.

Two people need to be capable of growing together, rather than apart, to thrive in a long-term relationship because humans aren’t meant to stay stagnant. If you’re growing, there’s no way you can be the same person you were a year ago.

And watching your partner constantly become the person they’re meant to be is a beautiful experience. One where you fall in love with them over and over.

Falling in love will look different for everyone. Don’t let pre-existing notions of falling in love stop you from experiencing it in your own way.

While you can’t be sure of when you’ll fall in love, it’s a beautiful experience when you do, regardless of the outcome. After all, what’s life without loving?

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