"What the fuck do I do?"--was the simple, innocent yet gut-wrenching question recently posed to me by a dear friend in love. Fair and simple enough--right, given that I am her trusted confidant? Well actually, it could not have been more complicated! The truth is that this was a tragic tale of two men, each one more amazing in his own right and each in love with this beautiful lady--a bit more than the other. No wonder she was thoroughly confused and didn't know what to feel or which way to turn. As much as she would've loved to be with both, she's no two-timer and it was now time to make a difficult decision. So she turned to me for help and begged me to intervene; I did exactly that and in the process--indulged in a bit of soul-searching myself.
I started out by analyzing and dissecting what my friend was feeling because I, like everyone else, have felt all along that that's what love is all about--feelings! Well- turns out that it's not that simple. Of course my lovely lady friend was stricken with all of the all-too-common, universal symptoms associated with love but when I began to dig deeper, I realized that the classic butterflies in the stomach, the full heart skipping a beat or two, the flustered cheeks on fire, the joyful, giddy feeling in the pit of the soul, the impossible struggle to separate from constant thoughts of him--are really not an indication of true love and although often debilitating, these could just as much be love-struck signs of a massive crush, a giant infatuation, or even inescapable lust. Experiencing one, more or all of these symptoms does not necessarily signify love. These woozy feelings could just as easily subside one day when novelty fades and reality sets in.
This practical realization made the responsibility that I had been bequeathed with, even harder; now I was left with the daunting task of having to come up with a reasonable, rational and scientific explanation of what this crazy feeling of love--the kind that shakes the very core our balance--is all about.
So after giving it a long and hard thought and going back and forth only about a million times--I came up with my own test of true love--the kind of love which lasts long after the butterflies have fluttered away and the giddiness in the gut is there no more.
Let's discuss the first criterion. Remember that even though your heart skips a beat every time you are around him, it does not necessarily mean that he is the one. If you are entering into a major relationship, do so because you truly & genuinely want him and not because you think that you want the one you can change to be more like you. Don't ever be a hero or a martyr or a master potter: don't try to mold him; be with him simply because you love him without reservation, without expectation but mostly because you cannot imagine a life without the one you fell in love with one day--not the one you want him to be someday.
An even greater test of true love, in my opinion, is if every time you see the man of your dreams, you spontaneously and whole-heartedly transform into the person you want to be for the rest of your life--100% genuine--kind, funny, giving, loving or whatever is the true you deep down inside. Being with him makes you want to be the kind of person you wish you could be every second of your life even after every extraneous factor has been weeded out. Yes, there is the gushing giddiness, but there is also a certain calm in spite of the storm raging inside of you, knowing that you are at your very best, there is no need to disguise and there is no pressure to impress because you both love what you see and who you are in the raw. True love is having a mutual affection so deep that it hurts when you are apart, it is about wanting to spend every waking, breathing moment together because you find happiness in each other and in everything around while together. Ultimately it is about bringing out the very best in each other. True love is as much about spiritual gratification and emotional fulfillment as it is about physical contentment. True love is as much about dreaming as it is about living and loving every second of it. Who said love (and life) was ever going to be easy, my friend?