Valentine's Day Thoughts, 2017

The Internet is awash with love stories here and there -- and every year, stories become wider in spectrum. Love is not anymore a linear retelling of a romcom you may have watched some years ago. Love exists in many forms, not necessarily romantic, and not necessarily nakakakilig. Mark Manson, in an interesting and thorough method of survey detailed it: 

Romantic love is a trap designed to get two people to overlook each other’s faults long enough to get some babymaking done. It generally only lasts for a few years at most. That dizzying high you get staring into your lover’s eyes as if they are the stars that make up the heavens — yeah, that mostly goes away. It does for everybody. So, once it’s gone, you need to know that you’ve buckled yourself down with a human being you genuinely respect and enjoy being with, otherwise things are going to get rocky.

True love — that is, deep, abiding love that is impervious to emotional whims or fancy — is a choice. It’s a constant commitment to a person regardless of the present circumstances. It’s a commitment to a person who you understand isn’t going to always make you happy — nor should they! — and a person who will need to rely on you at times, just as you will rely on them.
— I polled 1,500 people about their best relationship advice — Mark Manson

I'm not an expert on love. It took me a long time, decades even, before I truly knew how to love myself, how to put God above it all and to recognize love amidst the smokescreen of "crazy, head over heels in love feelings." 2016 taught me a lot on what it truly takes to love someone. Some years ago, I read about a blogger's discourse on when she truly realized she loved somebody and it was one of those moments that she was throwing up. A lot of the comments echoed the same sentiment, many times, love comes at the worst of times. Since then, I had expected mine to come. And so it did.

On The Wonder Years: This unassuming show captures what I mean when I say love is about deciding it's love even during the worst of times. Guess who bawled like a child after this episode.

I didn't realize it was happening and when it did, it was like a tidal wave of emotions that washed over me. After the worst of times, it was like the dark clouds have parted to reveal a much awaited spring. I remember thinking then, "Wow, I must really love this person," as I went through and under this tidal wave.

Now, no relationship is all sugar and spice and everything nice all the time. Every couple goes through their own season of fights, and a season of endless I-love-yous. While petty fights are normal, of course, know when to call it quits or tweak things for a more stable relationship.

Keeping up with my yearly tradition, below are the lessons I've learned from being in a relationship for the last almost two years:

  1. Choose your battles. Between Mike and me, I'm the firecracker one, I used to tend to pick fights a lot over the most mundane things, without asking myself if they were just assumptions or facts. What I learned is that most of the time, picking a fight was pointless and that I was being unfair to him assuming negative intentions on his part. Since then, I've felt more at peace and I feel like I have become a better person and a better girlfriend.

  2. Learn each other's love languages. As cheesy it may sound, knowing each other's love language proved to be helpful in my relationship. Because I know what makes my boyfriend happy and feel loved, I can tailor fit my actions to serve and put his happiness first, and vice versa. As many relationship books have mentioned over and over again, men (and even women) are not mind readers so it does help so much whether the other party wants to be affirmed verbally or shown service or actions. As an additional value, I now know that just because didn't do a certain action I hoped he would, doesn't mean he doesn't love me.

  3. Go the extra mile. Lucky for me, I am with a man who goes out of his way to wake up early to make me coffee, and on special days or even normal ones, I get to have coffee with a little mint Hershey kiss with it. Other days, he goes the extra mile of grating cinnamon onto my coffee. Many days, he would surprise and purchase stuff I've been meaning to cart from Lazada :D When we first started going out and I was leaving Manila for Siargao for a week, I left Mike one of my famous "kits," this one I called The Tara Survival Kit. I used a bag with my face on it, inside were tea bags because we loved having tea together, a bag of Lay's Sour Cream {his favorite}, some massage oils, and notes to tide him over while I was gone. On some occasions, I Grab Expressed him a shirt because he spilled coffee on the one he was wearing.

  4. Try not to go losyang. They always say it in magazines and articles and you know when you're single and in your prime and think "I'm never getting caught un-made up or in non flattering clothes?" Well, guess what, even the mightiest fall down. Some days, I'd be caught in Mike's big shirt, no makeup. Some days, I would catch unpleasant smells in our bathroom {though I've trained him to use a candle or Poopourri, haha!}. Being in a relationship is not the excuse to be a slob, and if anything else, you both need to be comfortable with each other to know your relationship has sealed itself in. But if you can help it, try to keep yourself in good shape. In my case, on top of my usual beautifying exercises, I make an effort to not have morning breath with Dentiste. I know, right? What's toothpaste got to do with it. I do realize though how different it is from my usuals, and it's awesome to be kissing in the morning. It must be the Xylitol. Bonus tip: Dentiste is on sale this season, only at PHP 143 instead of the usual PHP 175! Don't forget to keep your teeth healthy, I promise, it makes all the difference in the world of romance! :P

5. Cook. I didn't know how true the adage about the stomach and love was until I started cooking at home and Mike enjoying all the stuff I was cooking. If they were really yummy because they're yummy, I won't know because he would just always say it tastes good. Nevertheless, I love cooking for myself because it relaxes me a lot and also because I make both of us happy. Also, more economical haha!

6. Most importantly, love yourself. Many assume that having somebody with you constantly as a romantic partner will be the be all and end all of happiness -- me included. When I was single, I did think that life was going to be much better if I had someone by my side. Well, guess what? While it's true, it's not always the case. I've learned that my happiness, as much as it was stemming from making another person happy, was deeply rooted in developing myself the person I'd like myself to become. The happiest days were those that I carved my own daily small and big successes and shared them. It makes me fulfilled that I am able to continuously bring a lot to the table, and as a result grow together as a couple. 

I think today's post is already long, will reserve my other lessons on another day but for now, do celebrate being loved, whether it's by you, by another, and ultimately by God. Happy Valentine's Day!