At 20 years old, I've already become fairly cynical with institutions like organized religion and the government. I've learned to question everything and to look twice before validating claims - but, hey, I guess that's what a journalist is supposed to do.
But there was always one romanticism that I held on to - that is, the romanticism of romance. I'd always imagined that, despite the fact that one in two marriages end in divorce, and despite the fact that people are becoming increasingly independent, there is someone out there waiting for you, and if you look hard enough, you will find your soulmate.
It defies logic, I know, but, growing up with a family who works in the film industry and watching rom-coms whenever possible, it was easy for me to think that one day I'd find "the one" who would make me blind to all other men I saw, and he would see me as his whole world.
I've been dating my boyfriend for nearly two years now, and we are, by all accounts, a storybook romance.
He was my exchange student from Paris five years ago, and, after keeping in touch on and off, he finally had the courage to confess his feelings for me. We talked constantly my senior year of high school, and met again in France after not seeing each other for two years. We were giddy with love and have been together ever since, him even moving here a year and a half ago to go to school in America and, of course, to be with me.
I have never loved anyone like I love him. He really gets me at every level, and seems to know what I'm thinking even before I do. We finish each other's sentences, and miss each other like crazy after being apart for only a few hours.
But we're not perfect. We argue about stupid things and test each other's tempers. We have plenty of "blah" days, but there are more than enough good ones to make up for it.
Recently, however, we went through a bit of a rough patch. We attend different schools, and we hadn't been seeing as much of each other. When we did hang out, we were always doing homework.
Meanwhile, at school, there were plenty of guys whom I saw all the time, and, sure enough, I started developing a bit of a crush on one.
It confused the heck out of me. I knew I still loved my boyfriend, but I definitely liked this guy, too. I also knew that my boyfriend and I were on the low-altitude-side of peaks and valleys, yet I was sure we could break out of it. But maybe liking someone else meant that I didn't "truly" love my boyfriend?
I started obsessing over this idea, thinking there was something wrong with me. I imagined myself jumping throughout my life from guy to guy, never to be fully satisfied with one. I started thinking that it wasn't fair to my boyfriend that I was thinking sometimes of someone else, because my guy only had eyes for me...right?
After thinking about it long and hard and consulting a few close friends, I decided to break up with my boyfriend. The split lasted about seven hours, and ended with me showing up at his place sobbing, apologizing profusely, and him taking me back. Because, the thing was, I had no desire to break up with him. I still loved him.
A couple weeks later, I admitted to him why I broke up with him and then changed my mind. He was hurt, and it will probably take a while before things between us are just right again. But, he admitted to me that, around the same time that I'd developed feelings for another guy, he'd also developed feelings for another girl. I felt a deep pang in my heart. He said, though, that he weighed the merits of being with this other girl, knew that he ultimately loved me more, and quickly forgot about her. I told him I'd more or less done the same, but that I was confused as to whether I "truly" loved him because I was so set on this Hollywood creation of what true love is.
He then told me that Americans are too idealistic with love, and mentioned various French philosophers and great thinkers, like Stendhal and Alain Finkielkraut, who believe that love is ultimately not what the bible - and thus, most of society - claims it to be. People need to have other passions in their lives, like livelihoods and hobbies, to maintain happiness, and still being attracted to others while being committed to someone is human nature.
The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology conducted a study that says it's actually harmful in a relationship to think of your partner as your "other half" or "soulmate." Instead, the study found that it's healthier for couples to see their relationship as a journey, composed of ups and downs but overall satisfaction.
I mean, think about it: there are over 7 billion people in this world, and there's a pretty high chance that several of them will fit your desired "type" to a T. But still, nobody's perfect, including you, and every couple has things it could work on.
So, do I think I'm going to be with my current boyfriend for the rest of my life? I can't predict the future. And, who knows, maybe there's someone out there who would make me equally as happy. But, for now, he and I are two peas in a pod, and, right now, it wouldn't be worth it to cast my line out to more fish in the sea.
It may not end up being a "happily ever after", but it's "happy for now," and that's what counts.