My love life journey: A story of an unfit pair of jeans
What I learned recently is that finding true love is like finding the best pair of jeans. It may sound easy but can be tricky in the practice. Some people are very picky in finding the right jeans: it must come with great comfort, great fit, great look, and great price. Some people may focus more on the comfort. Some people may focus more on the look. Some people don’t really care about the price. Some people lower their standards just for the sake of owning one.
There were these jeans that I loved to wear in college. It felt so comfortable and good looking. But I started to outgrow it. I tried to still pull it off because I loved it so much and I had so much memories with it. But I also had grown a lot that it started to become unfit. I wanted to stay wearing it and lived in my past just for the sake of fitting but then I realized, these jeans were no longer for me. I had to move on. So did I.
“But if we are talking about making progress in life, we must understand that ‘good enough’ is very different from ‘best’.”
Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes
It may have seemed that I found a perfect looking pair of jeans. It looked so good on the mannequin. But when I tried to put it on, it didn’t really fit. It was too small for me. Yet I forced myself to wear it — even when it didn’t feel comfortable — just because it looked good. “Beauty is pain” they say. Is it, though? The longer time I wore them, the more I felt comfortable with it. However, I actually got used to the pain, not the jeans. And I started to feel tired of repressing the pain. Then I asked myself, “is it really worth the pain?”. And I answered “No”.
“When I stopped being who I am, I found myself.”
Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes
Then I found these perfect pair of jeans that looked so good and felt so comfortable at the same time. It was indeed like a dream. However, it costed so much. It was way above my pay grade to afford and it took a lot of sacrifices for me to own it. It even got me debating with my mom just to own these pair of jeans. Which I ended up giving up. I didn’t think it was worth all the sacrifices, even when it seemed like the perfect ones.
The last pair of jeans that I found, were too big for me. Yet it looked good and I liked it. So I put on a belt to make it fit. And I could proudly wear it everywhere I went. Even though, I knew that it didn’t actually fit and I had to make effort by putting on the belt but I really wanted to make it work and I didn’t mind to do the extra effort. I thought this would be my best pair of jeans because it seemed good enough for me. Unfortunately, when my belt was gone, the comfort was gone with it. And I didn’t even try to find a new belt until the jeans were gone.
“A no-effort relationship is a doomed relationship, not a great relationship. It takes work to communicate accurately and it takes work to expose and resolve conflicting hopes and beliefs. It doesn’t mean there is no “they lived happily ever after,” but it’s more like “they worked happily ever after.”
Dr. Carol S. Dweck, Mindset
We may think that the solution of having a pair of unfit jeans is as simple as buying a new pair. Which can be true. Yet it’s not the only solution. We can definitely put extra effort to make it fit: we can work out to make ourselves slimmer if the jeans are too tight; or we can learn how to sew if the jeans are too big. Sometimes the big question is actually for ourselves: whether we think it is worth the effort or not.
“We are talking about love, and love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself. Most of us do many things each day that do not come “naturally” for us.”
Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages
From The 5 Love Languages, I learned that love is something that we do — and may not be something that comes naturally. I learned that to love is not like an investment — where we do it for something in return. I learned that in order to love, we need to have our love tank full. Because it’s not love when we’re demanding our partner to always fill it for us. We have to make effort in order to love. And to be able to make effort, we have to have enough love for ourselves. Just like when we want to make other people happy, we must have enough energy to be able to share it with others.
I then realized — when I stopped trying to love, when I stopped making effort in love — maybe it’s because I didn’t have enough love for myself. If I felt fulfilled myself, I may not have been so selfish to demand it from my partner. I would have focused more on giving love, not asking for one. And when I love fully, I know for sure that I’ll also get it in return. Just like what Gary Chapman wrote in his book — related to loving the unlovely — where a bitter husband can eventually be a loving one when the wife keeps speaking his love language.
From there, I got into the conclusion that I should strive to be the best version of myself by focusing more on self-love and getting my love tank full. Instead of getting busy finding the right one, I can use the energy for my own growth. So that when I really find the one, I am already fulfilled and ready to love, wholeheartedly. And I can grow together with my partner because I have enough love to give.
“Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are”
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
As I mentioned in my previous article, I know that everyone came into our life was no coincidence and it must have brought us some lessons. Nothing is wasted. I learned more and more on how to love and how to push my ego aside from my past relationships. Yet it takes two to tango. I believe a healthy relationship is when both individuals are willing to grow together, fix their problems together, and help each other to be the best versions of themselves. If only one person is making the effort, it may work but it may feel exhausting. And in order for me to find someone who wants to make that effort for me, I need to ensure that I also am willing to make the same effort. If not, then I still have my homework to do.
“Conflicts can be resolved. Two people who are different can learn to live together in harmony. We discover how to bring out the best in each other. Those are the rewards of love.”
Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages