It’s not often that we associate love with decisiveness and choice. Typically, finding love is attributed more to luck, chance, or fate — all beautiful, wondrous concepts that I cannot argue with. I did, after all, grow up believing in fairytales and I will be the first to admit that luck does play a role. However, it is one that I can’t help but feel is overrated. A couple months ago, I was on a bus listening to someone three seats ahead of me proclaim how “statistically, not that many people will find true love in their lives.” This was a very curious statement since as far as my experience has taught me, true love happens as often as we choose it.
When I entered a relationship a few years ago, I kept expecting my luck to run out at every bump. Every Valentine’s Day, every New Year’s, every anniversary, worry would sit there at the back of my mind, regardless of how perfect things were in that moment. Where would we be one year from now? Would this one be our last? Tendrils of doubt would surface with every conversation that faded to silence, every day that I felt like I just needed some space.
It was after a particularly difficult period of bickering almost two years in when we sat down and made each other a promise to not break up unless our feelings for each other changed. It sounded ridiculously self-explanatory, and it was, but that wasn’t always easy to remember in the midst of busy schedules, short tempers, and personal change. I realized for the first time that the cards were entirely in our hands. Love would never run out and fail us; it had always come down our choice. Gradually, I began to realize that I no longer felt the same looming worry when I peered a year or two into the future. If we wanted to be together then, we would be. If we didn’t, I would know that it was a deliberate, informed choice. As Mandy Len Catron — author of the NYT Modern Love piece on 36 Questions to Fall in Love — wrote in one of her blog posts:
You choose. You choose over and over again. Because there is no right choice. There is no right person. There is simply someone you love, someone you have chosen, whom you will have to choose again. But there is no guarantee that you will always choose him, that he will choose you.
That uncertainty has always made love terrifying, but love is never just lost between two people. It is neglected, forgotten, or abandoned. True love, in my experience, has not been something I’ve found. It has been something I’ve made. It has been two very flawed and imperfect people, who are imperfect together, working towards building a perfection to share. I’ve always described my relationship as both very hard and very easy, which I still think is simultaneously true. It has been hard because we have both had to choose, constantly, consciously. It has been easy because all we’ve had to do was choose.