Sometimes I genuinely wonder if I am two people living in one body. Despite being one of the biggest cynics I know, I’m also a soppy romantic. That’s why, when I realise I’ve reached 25 and I’ve never been in love, I sometimes feel like I’ve lost out on something. (Simple fear of missing out, says my cynical side.)
I was thinking about how I’m past the age for puppy love; how I never had a high-school sweetheart; how I’ve missed the chance at having young, pretty wedding photos; how I’ve never been loved and never loved in return boo hoo hoo, then I realised it was nonsense.
Sure, I’ve never had an epic romantic love, but there have been places I never wanted to leave, left behind in the desire to go home; experiences I enjoyed every second of, and others I appreciated more with hindsight; and at least five times a day I say the phrase ‘I love’. There are a lot of things I like a lot! In fact, there are so many different definitions of ‘love’ that someone really should have come up with alternative words for them all.
These are my other ways to fall in love:
Visit new places
Sometimes I think I fall in love with places the way normal people love people. The first place that sprang to mind was Paris, which is strange, because I actually struggled a bit during both times I spent there. Relatively speaking, I only spent a short time there; nevertheless, I think it is the place where I did most of my growing up. And like a relationship that swings between highs and lows, which you appreciate more when it’s over, I always look back on Paris fondly.
Toronto was the first place I fell for, after an amazing one-week holiday seven years ago. I have wanted to go back ever since, but it is so far and so expensive that it’s not a realistic plan at the moment. In relationship terms, this is like the massive crush on your friend’s older brother – you’ll never act on it, but you will unashamedly fancy him for as long as you both shall live.
If Paris was a tumultuous relationship, then Salamanca was a holiday fling. Salamanca is always sunny in my head. I’ve written about it before, but the months I spent studying there were some of the most enjoyable of my life.
Then last year I did my trek through the USA, and I fell in love at least twice every day. From LA through to NYC, from hiking in the Grand Canyon to wandering the sunny streets of Santa Fe, from the jazz in New Orleans to the rock ‘n’ roll in Memphis to the country in Nashville, from San Diego to Broadway, there were amazing memories and probably hundreds of things I loved that I’ve already forgotten.
Try something new
Whether it is learning a language or a musical instrument, or trying a new sport or new food, there is something satisfying about the simple act of trying new things. Even if I don’t enjoy whatever it is, I like getting a little bit more knowledge or experience. This is similar to…
Have a hobby
I don’t understand how some people don’t have hobbies! There are so many brilliant ways to spend free time without relying on other people to entertain you. Blogging is one of my favourites, of course, but there’s also reading, writing, Zumba, visiting tourist attractions, going to the cinema and seeing musicals.
Doing exactly what you want
So much of our time is spent trying to make other people happy. I like to do something completely self-indulgent at least once a week – even binge-watching an awesome TV show on Netflix is worthwhile if you love it. You’ll love yourself a little more for it too!
Listening to music
There’s something about music. No matter how I’m feeling, there is a song that will centre me again. And songs are most affecting when they have insightful or relatable or smart lyrics, and one of the other things I adore is brilliant writing.
When you find a book you love, it’s never going to let you down. It’s easy to fall in love with characters or worlds created, and you can revisit them whenever you like. For me, the very best books make us look at our own lives and appreciate them more. Which takes me to…
Count your blessings
It is impossible not to take the important people for granted; we assume that they know just how important they are. The same goes for our jobs or our houses or our health. Sometimes what is missing can overshadow everything and risks making you dismissive of what you have. It is only when something terrible happens to us, or someone close to us, that we realise how important all of this is. Taking time every now and then to remember and appreciate what we do have is the quickest way to fall in love with our own lives.
A common phrase you hear from people in relationships if they’re asked about love is ‘you just know’. My romantic side is waiting for this, while my cynical side scoffs, but looking at other types of love I can see why they find it difficult to explain. I can’t pick out a single thread that runs through all these varieties of love, but I ‘just know’ that I love my family and friends and Paris and singing and travelling and McFly and F1 and reading and Nashville and chocolate and Grey’s Anatomy and handbags and my job and Taylor Swift and musicals and Saturdays and…