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All our lives, we have been told enchanting fairy tales about perfect partners that would whisk us from our hardship and give us our ‘happily ever after.’ Unfortunately, because of this, many of us will never come to understand true love.

While we were all losing ourselves to the hopes of “happily ever after” and diving head first into relationships that never worked out for us, something real was taking place in the world. Of course, I’m not downing Disney or anything. I mean, don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love The Little Mermaid? And I’m not saying that movies like that are entirely to blame. However, I’m not sure that anyone has been given an accurate picture of love in their younger years.

Love isn’t something that saves us from horrible past. It isn’t it isn’t a knight and shining armor who will steal us away from any hardship and ward off all evil for the rest of our lives. It isn’t even the ability for us to save another, despite all the attempts we have made. You see, where we go wrong, is believing that we or someone else can change anything or anyone.

Where we have gone wrong is in our expectations. Where we went wrong, is that we have let society tell us how a relationship should be.

In the 50’s and 60’s a woman married to have someone take over where her parents left off. She married so that she would have a home, financial support, a hardworking husband and eventually children. She would then resume the role of housewife and live happily ever after. But happily ever after was never what she expected.

Now, times have changed, and women have a stronger role in the working world. Many of us have careers and an education and work just as much as our husband. Many others have opted against marriage and even kids. Yet, no matter how much times have changed, love is never what we thought it would be.

And social media hasn’t helped either. “Memes” or pictures with catchy slogans now tell us how to think. These slogans tell us that we don’t need anyone, or in a stark contrast that we should be so loyal that we never leave someone no matter what they do. Despite these changes in our societal mindset, we still don’t have it right.

Let me clear the air. No one and nothing can tell you a definition for the perfect relationship. Such definitions exist while disregarding the fact that every individual is different from the other. If you take into account that a relationship includes two individuals, imagine how complicated predicting a perfect algorithm would become.

And that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg.

No wonder we are all so worn down with love. We have all these expectations, and no matter how much we love someone, they could never be perfect. Oh, and goodness gracious, look at how they make mistakes!

When we get past the initial honeymoon phase of the relationship and begin to notice that the person we are with isn’t exactly perfect, we often begin to question whether or not they are the person we are supposed to be with.

Sadly, so many of us get to this point in the relationship and begin tearing everything we built apart. We notice one little thing that bugs us and it’s like suddenly the floodgates open, and we can see all of our partner’s flaws. While their humor once was the reason for getting out of bed in the morning, now, suddenly it’s the reason we cringe while eating dinner.

From there, something happens, and one of you, or both of you, make a few mistakes, and boom! It’s over. Onto the next round.

So many of us are never able to let things get real. Maybe we stay with the other person for years, all the while trying to change them. Never does it cross our minds to just accept their flaws along with everything else and to love them in spite of them. Instead of unconditional love, we have conditional love that comes with terms and agreements. And if they don’t meet said expectations, well onto the next one.

What ever happened to love that was raw, that connected, that focused, and was driven towards one purpose: to build something with someone else.

Have we become so damaged and broken as a society that we can never let anyone get close? That when things get real we take flight?

Maybe, just maybe, if for once, we loved with all we had, and learned to accept the ones we love for who they are, we might get something accomplished. And I’m not advocating that we should stay with people that don’t love us back. Or that we should stay in obviously failing relationships. Instead, I’m merely saying that we should stop tearing each other down, and love each other for who we are.

We also have to understand that in order to love another, we must first truly love ourselves first. Our problem is, that we are looking constantly outside of ourselves for something that can only be found within ourselves. You can’t even begin to understand unconditional love until you have given it to yourself. So embrace yourself for who you are. And embrace others for who they are. Give people a chance and stop letting everyone else define love. Because love isn’t what we have been taught to believe it was. Love is something else entirely. Don’t let society shape how you love. Instead, create the love that shapes society.