Love Is Like the Weather — You Can’t Control It But You Can Learn to Dance In the Rain
When a relationship ends, people tend to see it as a failure.
In some cases, that’s simply not true. All relationships are opportunities for growth, and in some of them, we do that more brilliantly than in others.
Perhaps the success of a relationship lies not in how long it lasted, but in the person you became in it. Did you become kinder, more thoughtful, more able to see a different perspective? Did it slow you down as you were speeding through life, or did it give you a kick in the butt when you were too comfortable for too long?
Did you learn to speak up more — or to hold your peace? Did you do things you never thought you’d find yourself doing, like planning ahead — or just going with the flow? Did you learn to make decisions quicker or to spend more time slow thinking? Did you change your mind about some things? Try new things? Reconnect with old things? Did you do and say things the “old you” wouldn’t have? Did you work harder, create more art, write more, make a big decision, wake up earlier, move forward in your career, try new food, drink more water, work out more, take more naps, or decide to be kinder to yourself when this person was around? Did you rethink who you really are and what you truly value?
Perhaps if the answer to any of these questions is yes, then even if it ended, it was a successful relationship.
Love is not a fairytale
Recently, I’ve had the privilege of that kind of relationship. The kind where it felt like we packed YEARS of life and memories and laughter and tears into months. Where it felt like being 18 all over again. The kind where hours of conversation and sitting in silence together felt effortless. Where nights blended into mornings and favorite songs blended into a shared playlist and limbs blended into each other in a way that felt like home. Where love was found in the small kindnesses — making coffee for someone in the morning and holding them when they’re sick.
The kind of relationship where the odds were stacked against us and saner people would have held back — and yet the vision we saw, even if only for a brief moment, was enough to dive in headfirst without hesitation. Where we annoyed the hell out of each other — and weren’t afraid to tell each other that. Where we were able to call each other’s BS out — and remind each other of all the ways we were amazing. Where we spoke our truths, even if there was multiple versions of it, and said what needed to be said, even if it was difficult.
The kind of relationship where you’re stripped so bare in the presence of another person that at times, it brings out the worst sides of you — and at other times, the softest version of you.
It was a relationship in which for the first time, I understood that growing up is holding space for conflicting ideas. Being in love with romantic ideas of love is not the same as loving another person in their imperfections while dealing with your own imperfections.
Sometimes, the idea of wanting what is best for yourself and at the same time, wanting so badly what is best for the other person, can be two ideas that aren’t meant to fit together at this point in time — maybe not yet, and maybe not even in this lifetime. And it’s letting go, not because you don’t care enough, but because you care too much.
Because letting go is releasing the fantasy of the fairytale, where love is something that falls from the sky and happily-ever-after is a single point in time, and finding something better instead—truth. It’s realizing you can’t pour from an empty cup, and you can’t fully choose another if you don’t choose yourself first. And for perhaps the first time in your life, you choose yourself first, trusting the other person is choosing the same too. You realize that you can’t fully love someone if you don’t truly allow yourself to experience love, and you surrender to the journey of understanding what that experience really means.
All that we love deeply becomes a part of us
Maybe, in these kinds of relationships, even when they end, they never really end. The way they treated you set a new bar for how you deserve to be treated — and how you should treat yourself. The lessons they’ve taught you and the marks they’ve left on your heart stay, like a scar. And sometimes scars are signs of people who hurt us. But sometimes, they’re signs of people who healed us. Who, knowingly or not, performed open heart surgery on us even when we didn’t know we needed it, and left us never the same again. Better. Kinder. Wiser. Softer. Stronger. Surer. More wholehearted.
Clearer about the values we stand for. And braver about pursuing our dreams and destinies and never settling for less.
People who taught us that instead of trying to control love and each other’s timelines, the best thing we can do for each other is to let each other be who they are, unapologetically. To stop grasping so tightly to the other as a way to meet our own unresolved needs, but to start, in the words of author Donald Miller, “holding each other closely as [we] experience them.”
These are the people who hold up a mirror for us so we can see our potential — and all the work we have left to do to achieve it. Who teach us that perhaps the best form of love is the freedom to continue evolving and becoming the best versions of ourselves, even if that means our paths may diverge in the process.
You begin to find that kind of love all around you — in the friends who have always been there for you, in a hobby that has made you a better person, or in a pet who loves you unconditionally. You start to see your parents in a new light and appreciate things about how they raised you that you couldn’t see before. And most importantly, you learn to find that kind of love and acceptance within yourself.
“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” — Helen Keller
Love is an experience to appreciate, not a project to control
I’ve learnt that sharing life with another person is a privilege and an adventure, and it is also a risk. There are no guarantees, and it can be unpredictable, just like the weather. The forecast might look sunny, but that’s the thing with forecasts — they’re never 100% accurate. Just when you’re least expecting it, you hear a thunderclap and in seconds, the skies open up.
The best thing we can do with the weather is to enjoy it as it comes — the bright, sunny, roadtrip-worthy days, and the grey, drizzly snuggle-up-together-in-bed days. The skies don’t clear on command and raindrops don’t fall to the earth on a wish. But that doesn’t have to stop us from finding ways to enjoy each moment or from running in the rain. Because when you take the time to be fully present in the moment, time is immaterial.
In the words of a wise man:
“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” — Henry Van Dyke
Real love doesn’t settle or conform — it transforms, it expands, and it invites you into a bigger story. A story where you learn to trust, in the depths of your heart, that even in the greyest of days, darkest of nights or harshest of winters, the sun will always shine again and the flowers will always bloom again. You learn that everything you ever needed to be complete was already within you, not waiting to be found in another person.
In losing someone, sometimes we find ourselves afresh.
With these kinds of endings, what you thought had died was in fact being planted. The rain that washes away what is made of nothing but dust is the same rain that nourishes seeds so tiny they can barely be seen by the naked eye.
Sometimes, the old version of you needs to be buried before a new version can flourish. One chapter needs to end before a new one can begin. And in this new chapter, you find your connection to a bigger picture, and you learn to believe again.
“If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back. If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of the star, you would find nothing on your return.” — Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)