The Search for Love Starts Earlier than You Think
I remember watching the movie Weird Science when I was twelve. If you don’t know, it’s about two nerdy teens who create their perfect woman, “Lisa,” after hooking up wires to a Barbie doll and wearing bras on their heads. The ’80s were a weird time with weird movies. Any- way, the doll comes to life and teaches them about love and life. The first time I remember desiring a woman was while I was watching this movie.
I literally sat in my parents’ room (where I watched movies), mouth open, eyes shut tight, wishing for some weird science to happen to me. I really wanted a woman to pull me out of my boring world and show me a new one. But Kelly LeBrock never walked in. Only my mom, to ask me if I was hungry.
It wasn’t just the lips and curves and the growing curiosity of a twelve-year-old. It was also the idea of having a new type of friend. One who made you feel something different. One who would take care of you. One who understood you.
This was the first time it was imprinted on my subconscious that finding someone else (a woman) would bring me happiness. With that person, I would be valuable, accepted. Other twelve-year-old dudes would be jealous of me. It was the be- ginning of a long journey of not wanting to be alone. I would spend the next thirty years of my life looking for my “Lisa.”
For you, it probably didn’t start with an ’80s movie about a doll coming to life as a supermodel. But it started some- where. Maybe it was watching the lovers Romeo and Juliet dying for each other, or all the Disney princess movies with a woman being saved by a man and living happily ever after. Or witnessing a soaked Ryan Gosling confessing his undying love in The Notebook. Or your parents telling you over and over that you needed to find someone so you could start a family and be happy. And of course, today we get the added pressure of social media. Engagements. Weddings. Exotic honeymoons. Photos of couples traveling the world and feeding each other pizza. Kids on swings. Perfect little families. We all know these photos show life through a giant filter that hides the splinters in the white picket fence. Relationships take a shit ton of work, and no relationship is flawless. But we still buy into the illusion and believe that we are less than because our lives don’t look like the images that surround us.
All of this drives us to search for love, for “the one.” We approach this search like our life depends on it. It becomes our Holy Grail. But we never learn about the smaller steps in the process, the dynamics of a real relationship and how to have a healthy one. We don’t learn about codependency, attachment styles, and healthy boundaries, or about why we behave the way we do in love. We are just thrown into the forest to stumble around and learn what we can from our fall(s). With no tools or knowledge of what a healthy relationship actually looks like, we love strictly with what we feel and what we’re used to. Love then becomes a knee-jerk response to the other person stemming from our wounds, a way to fill holes in ourselves.
Your idea of love may be based on what you saw in your parents’ behavior, which, for many of you, was dysfunctional and unhealthy. If so, you have probably fallen into unhealthy relationships marked by codependency, jealousy, control, and even physical and emotional abuse. Maybe you always began to lose yourself in these relationships, but stayed in them. You had come to believe that this was what loving someone looked like — sacrifice. Until you woke up one day and didn’t know either of the people in the mirror. You had been completely oblivious to how you actually felt just because you were too afraid to be alone, and so was your partner brushing his teeth behind you.
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