After the overwhelming response to his story about falling in love with his best friend, Mike Iamele wrote down some of the things he’s learned about love.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been thrown into a whirlwind discussion about what love is and isn’t. Since MindBodyGreen asked me to expand upon my blog post, detailing how I fell in love with Garrett, I’ve been inundated with voices from both sides of the aisle. Some applauded me, shared secret confessions of their own, and were inspired to seek out any opportunities for love in their own lives. Others berated me, said that I was ignoring bisexuality, or that I only had feelings for Garrett because he took care of me.
Caught amidst this frenzy, I’ve had to do a lot of thinking about how I feel about love. Are love and sexuality one-in-the-same? Can they be mutually exclusive? And can sexuality change over time, or is it set in stone from day one?
Apart from being a frequent viewer of Masters of Sex, I don’t pretend to know a ton about sexuality. But a sensitive guy like me—yeah, I know a thing or two about love.
Growing up, I bought into the fairytale of love. I bought into this idea that I’d meet this gorgeous girl in the most serendipitous of ways, and we’d get married. I thought that I’d buy her diamond necklace for Valentine’s Day, and we might travel to the Caribbean a few times. And we’d have our 2.5 children. And that’d be life.
Looking back, I realize that’s not love; that’s the movies.
Love is when you’re at a party talking excitedly, and you catch your partner starring at you out of the corner of your eye, with that knowing smirk on his or her face. Love is when you see someone sleeping, and you think—no matter how cliché it sounds—he or she really does look like an angel. Love is when you forget about how big your nose is or how saggy your butt is because, around that person, you always feel beautiful.
Love is when you realize, for the first time, that someone is see you, the real you—who you are, not whatyou are. And you finally get the difference.
Love doesn’t have a ton to do with Valentine’s Day (in fact, in my experience, the more loving relationships avoid the restaurants and do takeout that day). It doesn’t have to do with expensive gifts or suburban homes or even 2.5 kids. It’s not about Caribbean vacations or fancy cars or even all-dressed-up beauty.
Love is a sweatpants thing. Love is a jeans thing. It’s a you-at-your-worst thing. Because love makes you realize that there is no worst. There is no best, either. There’s just you. There’s just a person who’s growing and changing and evolving. And, in the eyes of someone else, that’s beautiful.
Love isn’t heavy. It isn’t dramatic. And it most definitely isn’t something you need to gossip to all your friends about. Love is light. Love is playful. Love is so much fun that you forget it’s work. But it’s not supposed to be.
Sure, there are struggles. Sure, there are down times. But they’re really just growth times. They’re really just points where you’re challenging each other to grow.
As a culture, we’re so in love with love that we try to make it something it’s not. We try to fake it. We try to manipulate it. We try to distort it.
Maybe if we’re funny on the first date we’ll find love. Maybe if we wear that sexy dress, it will come. But the truth is—all anybody wants to see is you. With your flaws and imperfections and less-than-ideal features. Because that’s the only way that the person who really, really loves you can find you. They’ve been searching for you their whole lives. You’ve just been hiding behind those cool sunglasses or fancy dress or nice watch.
The best way to find love is to give it—not to others, but to yourself. Love yourself with all your heart. Take yourself out on dates and treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Know for a fact that you don’t need anybody else. That you’re complete as you are. That who you are is radiant and beautiful. But having a pal on this journey wouldn’t be so bad. It’d be kind of fun.
And, when you love yourself that much, you can’t help but show the real you to the world. You can’t help but boast how freaking awesome you are. And people get to see what they’ve always been looking for.
So I’m no expert. I never went to med school. I never studied sexual psychology. I have no real interest getting into the heterosexual/bisexual/homosexual argument.
All I know is love. I know that when you catch your partner with some food on his or her face, and you can’t help but crack a smile, that you’ve found something special. Something that says, “Hey, I’m freaking awesome, and I love myself, and I deserve you. But I’m in love with you, and you deserve me too.”
Everything else is just a fairytale. Just someone else’s story.
Now I’ve shared my love story. What’s yours?
Originally published at bostonwellnesscoach.com.
See the first part of Mike’s Story here: I’m an Otherwise Straight Man (Who Fell In Love with His Best Friend)
More from Mike: How a Straight Man in a Gay Relationship Made It Work
Photo: Alan Light/Flickr
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