True Love Doesn't

True love might strip you to the bone. It might alter you, splinter you, and bring you to your knees. But it doesn’t ask you to give up the most basic needs of your heart. If you need a committed, monogamous relationship, don’t settle for a partner who wants to keep his options open. If you need the structure of marriage to house your true love, don’t settle for a partner who sees a wedding ring as a shackle. If true love inspires you to bring children into this world, don’t stay with someone who is repelled by children.

True love loves to build bridges between opposites. It loves to bring people together. But it doesn’t require one person to do all the building, all the bringing. And it doesn’t require you to pull up camp, walk across the bridge, and set up your tent on his side of the river, leaving everything dear to your heart behind.

True love can be sneaky and surprise you in unexpected places. It might even lie, just a little bit. Just to soften the blow. But it doesn’t deceive, and it doesn’t cheat. Beware if you find the truth being blurred, if a monogamous promise was not honored, or if words and actions never seem to match. True love doesn’t look like that.

True love asks for compromise – sometimes painful compromise. But it doesn’t ask you to lay down the fundamental values of your heart, or the moral foundation your soul stands upon.

True love brings bodies and souls into oneness. But it simultaneously respects the boundaries of each distinct being. If your body feels the need to pull away, if you don’t want to be touched today, no still means no, no matter how long you have been with your intimate partner.

True love has a high price and asks for a lot: responsibility, maturity, selflessness. It abhors a friend with benefits. A friend with benefits arrangement usually only benefits one party, and it tends to create a vacuum, sucking up any possibility for true love to arrive. True love doesn’t come cheap, and it doesn’t ask you to settle for the smallest crumb available.

True love demands clear sight. It doesn’t confuse, and contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t blind (well, for the most part). True love is clarity.

True love is expansive. It doesn’t focus only on romantic love matches. True love is the dog who walks by your side for 13 years, through every up and down. True love is the nephew who plants a kiss on your cheek, for no apparent reason, then runs away with a smile on his face. True love is the sister who champions you, the mother who shields you, the brother who makes sure you are never lonely. It’s the friend who texts you every week just to say, “I love you,” and the cousin who leaves messages on your Facebook wall to tell you how beautiful you are.

True love is everywhere. It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t categorize. It doesn’t contract.

True love expands and fills all the empty places.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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