15 May 2005

In my freqent internet travels, this question once posed: Is 14 too young to be "in love"?

My response was as follows:

Obviously people around your age are going to say "Of course 14 isn't too young to know what love is, I'm (14, 15, 16..) and I'm in love!" as though, because they believe they're in love, they really must be in love.

Do I believe it's possible? Certainly. However, most people who insist they're "in love" at such a young age are in mutual infatuations. Perhaps there's a great fondness for the person you believe you "love" and, while it feels like love, it isn't really.

So just what the hell is love? Can it be defined? Sure it's a strong feeling of fondness for another, but that's not all it is. Can you really, truly explain what "love" is? Probably not.. but how do you know if you're in love?

Well.. here are some clues.

Love means you really, truly, only want what's best for that person. Even if it doesn't mean you. For example, I absolutely loved my ex-husband. I still love him to this day. However, I knew damned well that I wasn't right for him. It hurt like hell, but I left because I loved him and he deserved someone who actually would be right for him.

He and I were very different people and we're great friends, but as a couple we were a nightmare. Neither of us would be able to grow if we were together.

Love is acknowledging and accepting flaws. Most young people look at their partners through this haze where they can do no wrong and/or they're just SO GREAT OMG! When you love someone, you can look at them and see that... yes, they're a bit heavy, dumb, skinny, nerdy, weird, dirty, etc. and you still love them. You accept their flaws and don't try to make them change. (within reason.) Which brings us to:

If someone's flaws are things that can hurt them you have to love them enough to be honest with them. If they're fat, you have to love them enough to tell them.. "I love you, but I'm concerned about your health." Then you have to help them. If that means you don't eat pizza and french fries in front of someone struggling with their weight, then you don't eat pizza and french fries. Which brings us to:

Sacrifice. You should be willing to do whatever it takes to help someone, if they're willing to help themselves. If your partner desperately needs to lose weight.. you should eat healthier and exercise with them. If they need to stop drinking/doing drugs you give them up too. If they need time away from you, because their grades are slipping from spending so much time together.. You should respect that and give them the time to study. Even if it hurts. Which brings us to:

Tough love. If you love someone, you don't let them hurt themselves just to make them happy. If your partner is abusing drugs, you don't just LET them. You intervene. If they refuse to get help, you let them know that if they're going to destroy their lives.. they will do it without you and mean it. If you stick around, you're letting them know by your presense, that no matter how much they f**k up, you'll be there to pick up the pieces. That goes for money, food, drugs, skipping school, or whatever it is people will do to screw their own lives up. Which brings us to:

Love is work. It's not easy. You will have to take blame, you will have to give blame. You will share hard times, you will share pain. You will get through them together. You will do what it takes to make it through. You will be support for each other or you will leave them alone, no matter how much it hurts. Which brings us to the most important one:

If you love someone and they love you too, really and truly love you. Ultimately, you will be better for it. Someone you love will make you want to be a better you. For yourself and them. You will want to be successful. You will feel ambition. You will believe in yourself. You won't feel bad, unworthy, or unwanted. You'll feel vibrant, alive, and like you can conquer the world.

And they'll conquer it with you, because they will feel the same way.

THAT is love.

I will say this though, at 14 you're not ready for the responsibilities of love. Read everything I just said over.. Do you *really* need to worry about all that, at 14? I don't think so. I know my own daughter won't be allowed to one-on-one date at 14... mature or not.

It's just too much responsibility to put on someone who, really, should be figuring out who they are, themselves. Why complicate matters by trying to figure out who you are, who they are, and who "we" are?

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