Today is the day for love, I suppose. My husband and I have mostly started giving nice cards to each other for these types of holidays, and enjoying some drinks and a nicer dinner than usual. This year, that will be in our own dining room, and I’m fine with that.

When I think of how I learned to define love, I often think in terms of negatives—what love is not. It’s a very powerful thing to grow up knowing to your core what you do NOT want, what you will never do.

I did not have any serious romantic relationships until graduate school. I had some fleeting romances and trysts during undergrad, but it wasn’t until I was pursuing my doctorate that I got deeply involved with someone.

I knew from day one that he wasn’t the one. But, I had begun to wonder if I would ever find love, if I would ever find my soulmate—maybe I was innately too picky. So I stuck around to see if I could change—if we could change. He was a fine guy, just not smart enough. I could so easily manipulate him—it was a slippery slope. I couldn’t even feign emotion when I told him it was over and he sobbed into my shoulder.

I think love at first sight is ridiculous. But, when my now-husband came out to the parking lot to greet me at our first date (we’d known each other a decade prior in college, and had been corresponding via email for a few months), I absolutely knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was it.

And he is. We are everything my (and his) parents are not. We built our relationship on mutual respect and understanding, and he is the smartest and most driven person I know. I let up on a lot of my Type A traits because he was (and still is) the only person in the world I trust completely; and, he let up on a lot of his. While I didn’t learn what love is from my parents, I’m grateful for the stark lessons of what love is not. I refused to repeat that. Day 51.

Published by Quitter

I’m a college professor, wife, and mother of 2 small kids. I’m on a recovery journey 20 years in the making.

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