Before I met my husband, I would have told you that love is “fireworks”, or something similarly Disney-esque. I also would have told you that I’d never settle for anything less than real love.
And then I started dating HF. He was kind, godly, committed, and we had fun together, but there were no fireworks. My heart did not set alight when he walked into the room, and when he looked at me I didn’t feel like he was looking straight into my soul, like we had some deep soul-to-soul connection.
I’m going to be totally honest; these are all things I have felt in the past. I have felt that powerful connection and chemistry, which I’d previously understood to be ‘love’. For a time, it caused me to deeply question my relationship with HF – I was constantly on the watch for how ‘sparky’ I felt our conversation was over dinner, and would assess and analyse my feelings every time I saw him; usually disappointed not to find my heart all a-flutter.
But then I had this realisation; that chemistry and real love are not the same thing.
Chemistry is just lust, and lust is longing. Neither of these things actually have very much to do with love. We feel longing when there’s a chase – when you don’t know if someone is really committed to you, and when you have to prove or improve yourself to try and win his or her affections. It’s powerful and compelling, but it’s not based on who someone really is – rather, it’s infatuation.
The reason I didn’t feel butterflies at the sound of HF’s voice, was because I wasn’t infatuated with him. Unlike the guys before him, I wasn’t head-over-heels and wrapped in an intoxicating “in love” feeling, because unlike them, he was committed. He didn’t make my heart skip a beat, but he also wasn’t an always-slightly-unavailable jerk. There was no superficial chase; he was just kind, honouring and loving. Non-Hollywood, non-drama.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with feeling butterflies and deep attraction to your partner – on the contrary, these are good, enjoyable blessings. But the sticky issue is when we equate those feelings with real love. Some may never experience a strong feeling of chemistry with their partner, or some may feel it in the beginning and have it fade away over time, but it’s what’s left over that really counts. The foundation; the solid ground.
I had thought that an absence of fireworks meant ‘settling’. I now know that the passion stuff is just the fancy packaging; it looks good on the surface, but you have to peel it away to see what’s really inside. Real love doesn’t need ribbons and wrapping – it’s the good stuff in the middle; the stuff that lasts a lifetime.
And I’m so thankful to God for not letting me settle for anything less.