Fear is often associated with our trepidation for the unknown.
When we think about being afraid, roller coasters and horror movies often come to mind. But they are, in fact, not what society has deemed to be the scariest risk we take. Our greatest fear is much more common than that: love.
It’s a word that runs the media. TV, movies, and music are obsessed with love, eventually finding ‘The One,’ and the happily ever afters. Similarly, the heartbreak and pain of love is put on a pedestal. Rarely are we given a story or song that has nothing to do with being in love. This, in and of itself, is an issue. The more we glorify love and sensationalize what it means to be in love, the more we run a risk of detaching ourselves from the very idea.
Truth be told, the fear of falling in love is very real for many of us. For some, it’s the idea of having to commit to forever, while others are worried that they aren’t loving someone the right way. There are so many rules about how to be in love, and one doesn’t have to look far to find them. Articles titled along the lines of, “How to Ask a Girl/Guy Out,” “How Long Should You Wait Before Texting Back,” and “When to Say ‘I Love You’” are abundant online. If I had a nickel for every time some magazine tried to tell me how to be in a relationship, my tuition would be paid for.
These sorts of articles reinforce the notion that love has regulations and specific etiquette, when the reality is anything but.
When we want something badly, we really don’t want to screw it up. We begin stressing over the little things and, against better judgement, will turn to internet articles for advice. Falling in love is scary, and these well-intentioned articles are only trying to make it easier. Despite good intentions, though, they become deterrents for love-seekers, scaring us away from love by over-complicating the situation.
I was having a conversation with my best friend, who is single, and she admitted, “I don’t know how to invest in love. I can’t put myself out there without knowing what I’ll get in return.” Her thought brought to mind the risk associated with investing in the stock market — we simply don’t know whether our investments will be worth it or not. She didn’t want to risk falling for someone without knowing whether they’d be worth it in the long run.
While I understand where she was coming from, I also know that love always comes with a degree of risk and uncertainty, and even if it goes sour, it is always a valuable experience. Losing out on love doesn’t mean you have lost everything; rather, it builds on who you are as a person, and you always gain something from it.
By and large, love is made out to be complicated, and multi-layered. But we’re doing ourselves a disservice by perpetuating that idea. Love is actually very easy if you let it be. And falling in love is not big deal: it’s only natural that we grow attached to others around us.
When it comes to expressing this very idea, too, we have a weird fixation on the timing with which we should say, “I love you.” Many have tried to sell the idea that there is a perfect time to be in love, and, thereby, to make those feelings known, but again this, is a false representation. Truth be told, there is no right time to drop the “L-bomb.” We need to stop letting over-sensationalized ideas like this ruin our relationships before they even start.
When I first met my current boyfriend, I was immediately drawn in by his shy smile and the warm manner in which he spoke to me.
Our first date was only after two short weeks of knowing each other and he asked me to be his girlfriend that same night. I was scared, but not necessarily scared of falling in love. I was scared that I was doing it all ‘wrong.’ Most people would say that we were moving too fast. That, because we had started dating so quickly, we wouldn’t last, and we couldn’t truly be ‘in love.’ It was just an infatuation. Yet I remember that, even if the relationship had moved so quickly, it felt right to me.
Despite not following typical ‘rules’ and ‘conventions’ of dating, we have been together for a year and a half now. After that date, everything fell into place — we fell into a rhythm of getting to know each other, trusting each other. I know that he’s got my back and I’ve got his. That’s my story. There is no cookie cutter key to loving anyone. Love is, afterall, a complex experience and can be felt in a million different ways. We all just need to let ourselves feel it.
So push that fear aside and let yourself fall head over heels for someone — however it may happen. You never know where you might land.