“Love is definitely an ever changing thing you have to work at, you can’t just sit and expect it to evolve with you.”
Relationship Status: Open relationship with her boyfriend of a year
What is love?
I think it’s kind of hard to define love as one certain thing. There are different contexts you can experience it in, like platonic love is different than romantic love which is different than material love. It’s just fundamental appreciation of something and being able to put that above yourself—to see them happy or that thing thrive.
Have you ever been in love and how did you know?
I’m in a relationship right now and the moment I realized I loved him was the first time I had an anxiety attack and I didn’t mind that he was there. Usually when I have an anxiety attack or panic attack, there are only two other people I’m okay with being around, other than him. When I realized his energy complimented mine that’s when I knew.
Have you ever been in love prior to him?
I think this is the first time I’ve been in love. I’ve loved other people, but he’s the first time that it’s been real.
I didn’t know how to stand up for myself in my other relationships, not that they treated me poorly, but when something wasn’t making me happy, I just dealt with it. With Jacob I feel comfortable being able to voice my concerns and I know that he’ll actually take the time to listen. And I also didn’t really know who I was at the time of those relationships, and the fact that I know myself so much better allows me to get to know him better. So my own comfort with who I am, gives me the ability to take care of him and it’s now more of a partnership.
How does he feel about you being polyamorous?
We both identified as open poly separately before dating.
And were your previous partners in the same boat?
My previous relationships have all been monogamous, which is largely why I think they didn’t work out, because after a while I felt trapped and guilty for having feelings for other people, even though that’s completely natural and healthy. Then, over the past year or so, I met a bunch of people who encouraged me and educated me on the fact that doesn’t make me dirty or terrible, it just means I love differently.
So how is your love different?
There’s less pressure and less harsh standards. It’s a more freeing kind of love—there’s no wrong way to do it. It’s different in a good way, I would say. Not to say monogamy is bad, but just it because [polyamory] doesn’t stick to society’s standards of what “true love and fairy tales” are supposed to be doesn’t make it bad.
What is polyamory to you?
It’s kind of an umbrella term. In my personal experience with polyamory and open relationships, my heart belongs to one person but then there are little infatuations and crushes here and there, and also physical stuff, and there’s just that freedom and complete and utter trust between two people. Whereas other people can be in committed relationships with more than one person, or they’re all kind of dating each other. So there’s just no one way of describing polyamory, the same way I don’t think there’s one way to define love in general.
I think it’s natural and healthy to have little crushes on other people even when you’re in a relationship with somebody, because humans feel things all the time. At least for me it’s easy to separate the difference between infatuation and actual feelings for somebody. But I think it’s totally okay to be able to act on those little infatuations: get it out of your system and then go home to the person that you love and loves you.
Do you think it’s possible to romantically love two people at the same time?
I think it is. I don’t think that’s personally something I could do, but I’ve seen it happen, seen people thrive in that kind of relationship—and it’s important to normalize that.
Do you believe in soulmates?
Yes. I think my boyfriend is my true love, but I don’t think he’s my soulmate. I don’t think soulmates are necessarily a romantic thing: I believe my soulmate is my best friend. She’s my forever friend and the relationship and the bond that I have with her, while it’s not necessarily better or more important than the one I have with my boyfriend, there’s just nothing that can compare to that.
So what makes Jacob your true love?
To me he’s my best friend, my worst enemy, and the love of my life, all in one. As cheesy as it is, he’s everything I’ve wanted. Him and I argue differently than everyone else I would argue with, but I never have to worry about that being an issue. Even when we argue, I never stress about the outcome because I know we can work through it. But every rainbow needs a little rain. So I think the fact that we’ve been through so much shit and managed to bounce back from it is really important.
How did you perceive love growing up and was there someone you looked up to when it came to love?
The kind of traditional fairy tale structure of love was what I kind of wanted, because I thought I was supposed to want that. But my mom and dad were never super, super romantic, they were basically just bros who loved each other. And I think because I saw how healthy their relationship was, I didn’t feel the pressure to be super romantic. I kind of had the freedom to explore where I fell in between those. I’ve always admired my parents and their relationship. You don’t need to be over the top romantic all the time just to show you love each other—it’s really refreshing. So when my parents do cuddle and my dad does buy her flowers, it means so much more because it’s like, “Oh you were just thinking of me today.”
As I got to know myself better, and got to know other people, I realize I’m not a super romantic lovey dovey person. It’s nice every now and then, but I don’t need the unnecessary frills. I just need a partner: someone who can make me laugh, make me feel we can take on the world together.
What do you believe you need to make a relationship work?
Love is an ever changing thing you have to work at, you can’t just sit and expect it to evolve with you. You have to keep up with it. For Jacob and I, it’s about communication. We try to call each other a few times a week. It’s complete honesty, transparency, and a ridiculous amount of trust, but also not taking that trust for granted.
And what about self-love?
That’s something I’ve been working on a lot—I think it’s the most important kind of love out of everything. At the end of the day you can love somebody and somebody can love you, but none of us are getting out of here alive, and you’re always gonna have yourself. So if you can’t love yourself then what’s the point?
I think a lot of the times people learn how to love themselves by pouring themselves into other people. Not that you should depend on other people, but learning how to love somebody is a good stepping stone to loving yourself. Because if you exemplify it in an objective state—I see how I’m treating my best friend, and if someone ever said what I said to myself to her… well, why should I talk to myself that way, when I won’t let anybody talk to who I love that way?
You see yourself all the time: all the good, the bad, and the ugly, and at least with other people you can see the best parts of themselves, so you don’t judge them harshly. But with yourself you nitpick more than you would somebody else. It’s a constant battle, but once you figure out a way to convince yourself that you are beautiful and you are worth it, I think that’s so beneficial to you and everyone around you.
So ultimately, love is…? Fill in the blank with one word or two.
Love is warmth. There’s just a comfort you get from someone who loves you and cares about you. There’s no comparison.