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Five thoughts on love and romance

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1. “Fireworks” do not necessarily mean love. Think of all the celebrity stalkers or “crazy ex” stories. Sometimes fireworks only happen to one person. Is that true love? Of course not, that’s infatuation. True love might just be a Hollywood fantasy, but if it does exist, it is something that happens to two people. Be careful; just because you have strong emotions doesn't mean it’s fate or destiny that you’ll be together. It feels good and it motivates you to be with someone, but if they don’t feel the same way, it is merely infatuation.

2. Love does not always come with “fireworks”. Hollywood typically has fireworks accompanying a love story. That’s not usually the way life works. Sometimes love quietly grows on two people the more they get to know each other. Sometimes a relationship is stormy in a way that’s unhealthy. It feels like fireworks because it’s fiercely emotional. But the two people might be the worst thing for each other.

3. The Litmus test for love. How do you know if this is real love or healthy love? True love may not exist, but at least we want real love and healthy love. So how do you know? One way to tell is if the person you’re enamored with brings out your best or your worst. Do your friends notice you've lost weight, are volunteering at the food pantry more often, are talking in a more mature way about life, meaning, or spirituality? Or do they ask, “What’s going on with you?” and mean it in a negative way? You’re being more selfish, more into physical gratification, being less responsible, etc. In short, is this person bringing out your good side or your bad side?

4. Do you have similar life goals? Infatuation makes fools of us all. Dates are meant to be fun, not heavy. But if you don’t take a break from the fun sometimes and have deep meaningful conversations about what you really want out of life, what your goals are…you are possibly headed for a whole lot of pain. Once you’re married its hell to get out of it. It’s absurd to marry someone if you don’t know how they feel about religion, monogamy, whether or not they want children and how many, and what kind of economic status will they be satisfied with. Sure, people do change, but at least don’t be on different sides of the universe when you decide to become a couple. Start on the same page.

5. Relationships take work. They can be fun, pleasurable, enjoyable and fantastic. They can be awesome, special, magical and bliss. But ultimately, every relationship requires work, and not just read-an-article-on-how-to-be-a-better-spouse type of work, but real introspection and molding of character. That’s why a man and woman are designed to be so different internally, yet attracted to each other. Nothing is an accident.

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