How do you know when you’re in love?
I always thought it was a matter of “when,” like it could be so easily defined by a year or two years or at least three for what you feel to be real in any way. I force myself to swallow down something condescending like “Maybe you don’t know what you feel so you call it love,” when a friend tells me that three months is love.
The way that I defined love was by death. This sounds dramatic but I thought that the only way to know that it was love was by measuring what I would give up for someone. How can it be love if you’re not going to die for them? I argued my theory by stating that I would die for my mum, I would die for my dad, I would die for my brother and I would die for my best friends. If I’m not going to die for my boyfriend then I guess I just don’t love him.
In a sense, this was my way of trying to scientifically measure love. There was a formula to it and I had it all figured out. Everyone was too caught up in emotions that weren’t real and I was the one waiting for something real. I was holding myself out for the elusive “one” in a dramatic Romeo & Juliet style saga. If it’s not all, then it’s nothing at all, and to me everyone else was settling for nothing.
Every time I went out, it was an opportunity to meet someone new. This is one of the perks of living in a big city like Sydney; everyday is an opportunity to meet the love of your life and if it doesn’t work out, you are 80% guaranteed to never see the could’ve been-would’ve been-should’ve been “love of your life” again.
I met the “love of my life” at the beginning of June six months ago. I was sitting alone drinking a vodka lemon lime bitters, looking out at the dance floor and feeling bitter because my friend was kissing this adorable guy he just met. I saw someone sitting next to me; he’s so fucking cute but it doesn’t matter because I’m in a gay bar and he isn’t here for me. I say hello to him anyway, and he says hello back in an adorable accent. He’s an engineer from France who just moved to Sydney and his housemates are gay. He saw me and wanted to talk to me, so now he’s sitting here smiling at me and asking me if I’m single. I said “Yes, are you?”, and he said yes. Everything was going well–I tell him I’m studying French, and when he asked me “Quel âge avec-vous?” it ended that. It was the beginning but oh god, it was already the end. He looked at me like I stabbed him when I said eighteen.
He was twenty-eight.
In the months following June, after the most catastrophic heartbreak ever, I replayed all the moments leading up to us meeting and how easily we could have not met. Like if I got into the first bar that I had been waiting for 20 minutes outside, or if my friend didn’t meet the cute red-headed guy who told us to run to the gay bar before lock out, or if I didn’t sit by myself like I was wounded soldier with a drink in my hand. This was the beginning of how I set him up to be the “love of my life”. Baby, look how close we were to not meeting; how could you tell me this isn’t fate?
I could die for this guy. This guy is perfect and I could die for him. He’s everything that I ever wanted–he’s the perfectly constructed man that I had dreamt about dying for since I was born. I did everything to convince him that this was real. How could I feel this way and how could he not?
Our first date was on a Monday at a cafe. We ate pastries and he talked about his family and how he grew up with two brothers and a mum who was a social worker. He understood how hard it was for some people out there. He was understanding – check.
Our second date was on a Wednesday. We met after he had work and ate a huge sushi platter together at a Japanese restaurant. He talked about how he would always eat sushi after work when he lived in Belgium. He worked – check. He was cultured – check. He was well travelled – check.
By the end of the second date I was on vibrate. I could feel the blood rush to my head and I could hear my heart in my ears and jesus christ, this was the zsa zsa zhu that Carrie was talking about in Sex in the City. This was freaking it. We walked back to his house in the middle of the night. I put my hand on my car door and I told him “Bonne nuit!”
He looked at me for a moment, paused, and then asked if I wanted to come inside. I didn’t pause at all; it took me altogether 0.00001 seconds to say yes.
We sat in his bedroom and listened to French synth-pop together. “Can you kiss me first?” by College was playing in the background. I was in the middle of talking about how I could play the can-can on the keyboard when he kissed me. My clothes were off in no time, and he whispered to me that he could teach me French if I wanted. He touched my arm and told me if the word was feminine. He touched my lips and told me if the word was feminine. Did you guys know that “vagina” is masculine in French?
This wasn’t sex on the first date–this was sex on a second date, and he said that he was confused. How could I be 18? Putain.
This was how it was always going to be, and this was how it was throughout June. We’d have sex and then he’d remember how old I was. I told him he didn’t need to be confused. Who cares about age? When you’re with me can’t you forget about it? I forget about everything when I’m with you.
At the beginning of the last week of June, he told me that he couldn’t have a girlfriend who was so young. Was I okay with being fuck buddies? I felt like someone just punched me in the chest and that my heart was going to fall out of my throat. I texted all my friends to let them know there was a crisis. I’m in love and he doesn’t feel it back. I’m in love and all he wants to do is fuck me but I told him I was okay with that because it was better to have him than not at all.
His birthday was at the end of June. I wished him a happy birthday and I asked him when I would see him again. He replied that it was better that we didn’t and I told him that was a shame. He said I was a wonderful girl who had great music taste, and I was really good in bed but that it would never work out. I told my best friend, “He broke my heart but look how nice he is.” She replied, “But he didn’t really say anything about you. Really, what does he know about you?” Nothing really. I’m so angry. She replied, “You loved him for a lot of things that weren’t his soul too.”
I had to make myself go to sleep at 7 PM for three months because I couldn’t stand being awake knowing that he was out there, and he was fine, but that I was heartbroken because apparently he was the love of my life. It’s December now, and it’s taken so long, but I’ve finally realised that he didn’t break my heart at all. My heart was fine. I think he broke my head, or my logic, or my scientific method for what I thought “love” was. He was what I had so perfectly constructed in my mind to be the perfect guy, and I could only love a perfect guy. I could only die for someone who was well educated, well travelled, French, and cute beyond belief.
Nothing else mattered. It didn’t matter that he told me from the start that I was too young, and it didn’t matter that he never really showed any real interest in getting to know me with my clothes on. All that was irrelevant because he fit my criteria for love and the ultimate death for love. I could die for him because he was perfect, and god, now it’s December I can see that it’s so flawed to think that way.
How do you know when you’re in love?