Those butterflies in your tummy? Sorry babe, but that ain’t love.

There is something about monotony that irks me. While I like stable and secure, routine drives me up the wall. It makes me question everything, and unfortunately, everyone.

My husband and I have been together for over seven years now, five of which were as a husband and wife. While it was exciting in the first few months, we soon had a rhythm to our life. It was sheer coincidence that life threw curve balls our way one after the other, which ruffled our nest and pushed us out of the comfort zone.

Before we got married, it was the secret dating life that kept us on our toes. Then came the family drama, where parents required a whole lot of convincing and approvals. I have been in a steady relationship with my career since I was 16, so when things were quiet on the romantic front, it picked up on the work front. Hence, never a dull moment.

Then we walked down the aisle, and moved to a completely different country. It was the first time that both of us had lived away from our respective families, and consequently, we held on to each other tightly. We were all that we had. And our respective careers. Settling in the UAE came with its own set of challenges, but it was an exciting chapter of my life. I was finally doing what I love – being a journalist. I met some very interesting people and found friends for life. But sometimes, even all of that wasn’t enough. I wanted to be thrilled and swept off my feet. I wanted grand gestures and a whole lot of drama. It’s absence would upset me, and I would turn small things much bigger. All for the sake of excitement.

Fast forward couple of months, where my husband was in Cologne and I lived in Dubai, the void felt much deeper and dangerous. Long distance is the worst thing that can happen to a relationship for a person like me. It made me delusional, detached and pushed me into a shell with a firmly closed-door. It was all that I never wanted. How do you know love is still alive and breathing between two people when they are across continents, in different time zones, experiencing life on completely different levels and struggling to stay relevant in each other’s lives? This is how I felt that time. It was hazy and confusing.

But if you were to ask me today if I felt loved back then, in retrospect, I would say that calling in to check if I had reached home okay, sending me a good morning text message with either an endearment or a silly emoji, and sending a Tiffany love key with a friend visiting Dubai from Cologne are expressions of love, then hell to the yeah!

I knew my move to Germany won’t be easy, for a number of reasons. Besides a confused web of feelings and expectations, I brought along repulsion for cold weather, angst about giving up my career and restarting for the third time, and resolve to not learn the language. As days melted into weeks and then months, I often questioned my relationship, wondering if this is all there is to it? Where are the sparks and butterflies, what happened to the sizzle and jizzle? Have I been dealt the wrong hand or was this truly it?

What I did not understand back then was that love isn’t just butterflies and sizzle. It is also being there when your better half is far from lovable. It is that reassurance on a winter night that I will find my feet again and have a fabulous career again; ordering pizza for dinner because I spent the day staring at nothing. Love is also making a list of chores and splitting it; it is the best kind of love when he takes the chores that he knows I don’t like. It was love when he would just stare at me with those puppy eyes when we have had a fight and I had announced to my invisible subjects that I will be sleeping on the couch. It worked most times.

Pop culture and romance novels taught me to look for signs, event when the truth stared back at me in all its glory. It told me that love equals chase, that it is uncomfortable and constantly thrilling. It keeps you up at night. and sometimes rubs you the wrong way. It is all such incredible bullshit. You want to know what love is? It is what Harling Ross recently wrote in her feature called I Didn’t Realize Love Was Supposed to Be Kind of Boring; she said: “Love, in its truest, steadiest, most rewarding form, is extraordinarily dull. That contrary to popular stereotypes and cinematic tropes, there’s nothing to overanalyze, nothing to second-guess, nothing to report, nothing to pursue or refuel. That it doesn’t need constant reassurance that it exists. That it just is.”

I couldn’t have penned it any better even if I tried. This is it. This is love. It is boring sometimes, but that crazy chase, playing hard to get, constant heartache and disappointment alternating with brief euphoria and rendezvous are anything but love. It is our over-active imagination, fueled by romance novels and NBC sitcoms.

Love can still be exciting, but that it no longer is a validation for its existence. And ladies, “a man reserves his true and deepest love not for the species of woman in whose company he finds himself electrified and enkindled, but for that one in whose company he may feel tenderly drowsy,” said George Jean Nathan.

Possibly something to think about this evening?


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