I go to BYU. And as much as I would like to defend it and say it’s just like any other school, that’s not true. It’s special in both good and bad ways. One specific quirk BYU has is both good, because it urges me to prepare for the most important decision I’ll make in my life, and bad, because I think it makes many here feel pressure to move faster than is always prudent. This quirk is that we tend to talk quite a bit about dating and marriage. The student body’s preoccupation with this has rubbed off on me, and I find myself also thinking about these and related concepts quite often.
For instance, relationships are such interesting things. Mostly because people are very different. They expect different things, communicate in different ways, react to situations differently; and yet, there is a lot you can learn by observing others’ relationships. You can see what works for them. Maybe it’ll work for you, maybe not. But research is never a bad thing. And eventually when in a relationship of your own, you have a better chance of finding what will work because of the notebook of observations filed away in the recesses of your mind.
That’s mostly where I am right now. An observer, sitting on the edges, taking notes, and cheering everyone else along. But often this pondering observer status makes me think. I think part of the reason I hold an observer status so often is that I take relationships very seriously. So seriously, that I’m terrified of them ever actually becoming serious relationships. I think it’s ironic that the older we are the more we want relationships and the less eager we are to just jump into the first opportunity that comes along. And I think a lot about what love actually is.
To really break down what love is to me (I should disclaim here: this is a description of what love is to me. A funny thing for me to describe since I’ve never actually been in love. But nonetheless, this is what love is to me. Not a mandate of how everyone else should experience it.) I’ll start with where it begins: infatuation.
Infatuation loosely defined is an irrational insanity that itches out of reach just underneath your skin. It’s the sensation that bubbles up unexpectedly from nowhere, taking you by surprise. Or at least taking me by surprise. That’s how it starts, but it is not love. Love isn’t even wanting to be together and missing them when you’re not together, nor is it simply defined as caring about what the other person cares about or being able to talk for 12 hours straight. Those are important parts of love but, and I don’t know how to quantify this, I know there is a deeper more meaningful ingredient.
I’ve never found it but I know it’s there. I can sense it when I’m around couples that have been married for 52 years and are still crazy about each other and when I hear friends talk about the loves of their lives. It makes me happy and it makes me hopeful. I want that. It doesn’t have to be this very second or even in the next five years. But it gives me something to work towards. To remind me what a relationship can and should be so I don’t settle on a relationship just because it works.
So that is the product of two years of BYU indoctrination. I don’t know if it’s right or not, but I’m hoping it’s somewhere around the ball park. I guess I’ll let you know when I figure it out.