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I was talking to a friend two nights ago and at one point in the conversation, he said something along the lines of, “I couldn’t imagine being with someone long-term before. I would look at couples who had been together for 2 or 3 years and think ‘wow, you’re crazy! Being young is an opportunity to have fun, not for something serious.’ But this winter has been so dark and cold and for the first time, I can see the comfort in falling back on someone, having that kind of safety and stability.”

I can’t say why that line immediately latched on to me. Perhaps I just love seeing people believe in love, especially a long-term love as opposed to the pleasure of a hook-up or the thrill of a new love. I want to bring people the hope that something beautiful is possible. And perhaps I could see where he was coming from in saying that, and remember a time when I could relate to feeling that way too.

Today marks my two year anniversary. At no point in our early relationship could I ever have thought we would make it here. I went into this relationship with a very blasé attitude and the intention of stepping back as soon as things stopped being fun. Obviously I was excited at having someone pay attention to me for once, but I had rather few expectations due to a number of reasons. The first was that things had never worked out for me before and I was tired of trying for nothing. I was also at a stage in my life where for the first time, I was truly happy single and getting along quite well by myself; I was busy and certainly wasn’t looking for complications. Finally, of all the perfect matches I’d dreamed up in my head, he was nowhere near my imagined “soulmate.”

Our relationship started off as sharing the route home from school one night. We began chatting all through the next day, and the next, and haven’t stopped since. The texting became hanging out, and kissing got thrown into the equation a couple weeks after, and it was as simple as that. It was completely contrary to anything I’d experienced before; being together and falling together required no effort. Love is so easy when it’s right.

The concept of being in an equal relationship was so foreign to me at the start. I wasn’t the only one initiating everything anymore. I didn’t feel desperate to hold on to anything that I perpetually feared might slip away if I loosened my grasp. I also didn’t feel like I was giving up any part of myself, or any aspects of my life. My choices and identity weren’t being stifled in any way. Most of all, I started to find myself believing that someone could truly want to go out of their way for my happiness and company. For the first time, I wasn’t just “cute” anymore; I was “gorgeous” and “beautiful.”

Things were not always so flawless and easy. But even in the hard times, the effort never felt like too much effort in the moment. I had wanted to back out as soon as things became too complicated or busy to handle, but every time it felt that we had reached that point, it suddenly didn’t seem like too much to give it another try, a little push of effort and we were through. One hug was always enough to forgive and start fresh. Every time we got past a hill, we would be stronger for it, always better than before, and I’ve never regretted the choice to keep going.

They say that you should never change yourself for the ones you love, and this is true. However, the best relationships are when you grow together, and some limbs will become inevitably entwined. Did I ever foresee that I would set an alarm for a hockey game? Not a chance. Would he have ever purchased tickets to go see (and enjoy) a musical two years ago? I doubt it. Every relationship leaves us changed forever and I can’t begin to express how much we’ve both matured since March of 2012, how much we’ve learned and gained from being together. No matter what happens in the future, I can believe in love now. I can believe that it is possible and it is great. I can believe in my own beauty and I feel so lucky and grateful every day that I have had the chance to feel that.