When you’re a mere fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years old, and you meet that girl, the one whose heart you feel is connected to yours by spiritual sinews, whose eyes see through you like radiation, whose face contains the sum of all your childish hopes, it’s easy to imagine yourself wanting to spend every waking moment with her. You want to watch her sleep, hear her laugh, help her in every situation, give her everything you have, be everything to her, for she is everything to you. She is your reason to breathe, to carry on, to continue, to see yourself as growing, and she is the secret of that growth. Without her, you would be walking alone, your heart a timer unto death, your mind a net of confusions and disinformation, creeping, impending doubts, cynicism, and misery.
And in your youthful outlook, you see no reason why you would ever want to be apart from her.
But then, your heart is broken. She leaves you, your iron forever in the fire, and without her you find the first glimpse of old age inside of you: when your body and mind feel like they can no longer function. You lie awake at night, burning for a way to bring her back, hoping this is just a phase, just a fancy, though knowing inside that it isn’t, and that, on top of all this speculation, you know it was somehow your fault. And if only you could have done things differently…
You think of her picture with a mixture of love and burnt hope, regret and adoration, like a god longing for a mortal to believe in him again. But that belief will never come. You know it, and slowly, you begin to accept it.
The days, weeks, months are long, but they pass. You find new ways to amuse yourself, to feel alive, and hopeful. You grow new arms, new talents, new interests, skills, and directions, new endeavors towards a goal perhaps less abstract than that old “bliss” you saw embodied in her eyes, all those years ago. You grow, and mature, reaping the harvest of experience, overcoming adversities like loss, guilt, and dreams, dreams that once seemed more valuable than gold, now worth less than those distant clouds overhead, that once seemed to carry them.
And at last, you meet someone else to love, someone older, stronger than that first girl, someone just as wonderful, beautiful, remarkable, lovable, with whom you share as many or more things in common. For, as an older person, you’ve done, seen, and had more things to have in common with another person. You spend lots of time together, and explore the more personal, more adult dimensions of love, the ones that seemed magically or mostly off limits to you and your first love, as children. Maybe you see each other everyday for a week, or two weeks, maybe even a month, and then, after some more time, maybe you move in together.
And then, what happens? One of you, or both of you but usually just one of you, needs some room. Some “space.” You find you need some time alone, some time to do things that exclude her, that are rooms or miles away from her, and you find it hard to tell her but perhaps you do them anyway. And she gets mad. She doesn’t understand. She doesn’t see what you see: a need to be apart. She tells you her definition of love: a sharing of everything, an interdependence, a sacrifice of oneself and one’s values for the sake of greater things, to give of oneself for someone else entirely, and then, perhaps, for an entire family.
And you realize, that was once your definition. But since that first love collapsed, and you did what you had to do to recover, to survive, that recovery was a change. A change of your heart from simple, idealistic, youthful, naive, to something that has seen the way the world really is, and then, what it has to offer. And in cultivating those healthy interests, you accidentally destroyed love by becoming a complete person. Now you will never want to spend all your time and share everything with one person again. You have yourself to look after. And this is how the definition of love becomes compromise, nothing ideal, or perfect. A barter system, of human life, a slavery, the mortal wanting to believe in Aphrodite, but seeing no proof of her, and bottling his despair in his hobbies, unto old age and death.