It’s been said that we really only fall in love with three people in our lifetime.
Yet, it’s also believed that we need each of these loves for a different reason.
Often our first is when we are young, in high school even. It’s the idealistic love—the one that seems like the fairytales we read as children.
This is the love that appeals to what we should be doing for society’s sake—and probably our families. We enter into it with the belief that this will be our only love and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel quite right, or if we find ourselves having to swallow down our personal truths to make it work because deep down we believe that this is what love is supposed to be.
Because in this type of love, how others view us is more important than how we actually feel.
It’s a love that looks right.
The second is supposed to be our hard love—the one that teaches us lessons about who we are and how we often want or need to be loved. This is the kind of love that hurts, whether through lies, pain or manipulation.
We think we are making different choices than our first, but in reality we are still making choices out of the need to learn lessons—but we hang on. Our second love can become a cycle, oftentimes one we keep repeating because we think that somehow the ending will be different than before. Yet, each time we try, it somehow ends worse than before.
Sometimes it’s unhealthy, unbalanced or narcissistic even. There may be emotional, mental or even physical abuse or manipulation—most likely there will be high levels of drama. This is exactly what keeps us addicted to this story line, because it’s the emotional rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows and like a junkie trying to get a fix, we stick through the lows with the expectation of the high.
With this kind of love, trying to make it work becomes more important than whether it actually should.
It’s the love that we wished was right.
And the third is the love we never see coming. The one that usually looks all wrong for us and that destroys any lingering ideals we clung to about what love is supposed to be. This is the love that comes so easy it doesn’t seem possible. It’s the kind where the connection can’t be explained and knocks us off our feet because we never planned for it.
This is the love where we come together with someone and it just fits—there aren’t any ideal expectations about how each person should be acting, nor is there pressure to become someone other than we are.
We are just simply accepted for who we are already—and it shakes to our core.
It isn’t what we envisioned our love would look like, nor does it abide by the rules that we had hoped to play it safe by. But still it shatters our preconceived notions and shows us that love doesn’t have to be how we thought in order to be true.
This is the love that keeps knocking on our door regardless of how long it takes us to answer.
It’s the love that just feels right.
Maybe we don’t all experience these loves in this lifetime, but perhaps that’s just because we aren’t ready to. Maybe the reality is we need to truly learn what love isn’t before we can grasp what it is.
Possibly we need a whole lifetime to learn each lesson, or maybe, if we’re lucky, it only takes a few years.
Perhaps it’s not about if we are ever ready for love, but if love is ready for us.
And then there may be those people who fall in love once and find it passionately lasts until their last breath. Those faded and worn pictures of our grandparents who seemed just as in love as they walked hand-in-hand at age 80 as they did in their wedding picture—the kind that leaves us wondering if we really know how to love at all.
Someone once told me they are the lucky ones, and perhaps they are.
But I kinda think that those who make it to their third love are really the lucky ones.
They are the ones who are tired of having to try and whose broken hearts lay beating in front of them wondering if there is just something inherently wrong with how they love.
But there’s not; it’s just a matter of if their partner loves in the same way they do or not.
Just because it has never worked out before doesn’t mean that it won’t work out now.
What it really comes down to is if we are limited by how we love, or instead love without limits. We can all choose to stay with our first love, the one that looks good and will make everyone else happy. We can choose to stay with our second under the belief that if we don’t have to fight for it, then it’s not worth having—or we can make the choice to believe in the third love.
The one that feels like home without any rationale; the love that isn’t like a storm—but rather the quiet peace of the night after.
And maybe there’s something special about our first love, and something heartbreakingly unique about our second…but there’s also just something pretty amazing about our third.
The one we never see coming.
The one that actually lasts.
The one that shows us why it never worked out before.
And it’s that possibility that makes trying again always worthwhile, because the truth is you never know when you’ll stumble into love.