July 29, 2011 by Heather Harris
When I was young, I believed that love was some sort of mystical force that automatically conquered all odds and made everything right in the universe. I believed love was a fairytale, but it’s not. Love is real, and fairytales just aren’t. They’re made-up stories meant to make you feel better when what’s real is too harsh or too complicated to fully understand.
I’ve always prided myself on being a realist, even in my teens, but in all honesty, I haven’t really, truly been one until very recently. I grew up confining the huge concept that is love into fairytale status, when it is so much more powerful and difficult to maintain than that.
Real love doesn’t depend on whether the hero gets the girl. It’s unconditional. Real love doesn’t ride off into the sunset, but it does go the distance. It doesn’t have an ending, happy or sad. Real love isn’t a feeling. It’s an action, a choice. Real love doesn’t automatically make everything right in the world. It takes conscious effort to maintain. Real love is nothing like a fairy tale.
So why do we make believe? Why do we pretend that love is something that it’s not? Because we’re human, and instead of facing up to the fact that love is hard, we like to make ourselves believe that it isn’t. We swoon over tales of lovers conquering all odds just to be together, but when we, ourselves, are presented with obstacles in our relationships, we give up instead of pushing through. There’s a point when love is no longer a feeling, but a conscious, effort-driven choice to value someone else higher than yourself.
That’s not to say that you should never take care of or stand up for yourself in situations that involve abuse and being taken advantage of. You should definitely set boundaries for yourself. What I’m saying is that love isn’t what the fairy tales make it out to be. The person you’re with isn’t going to magically fit you perfectly in every way. There will be clashes and disagreements, and fights, but real love chooses to see everything, imperfections and all, and still accept the other for who he/she is. Real love is not about you and your emotions. It’s about prioritizing others above yourself.