What Love Means For Couples Who Have Been Together For Five Years and Up
When a life has been built and a routine has been set, does love start to change?
When it comes to relationships, there’s a sort of linear development that society just seems to understand: Honeymoon stage → Getting comfortable → Getting bored → Breaking up. Of course, there are specific complications and the exceptions that seem to forego the bored stage and the breaking up. After all, what are successful marriages/relationships if not that? They’re unique gems, if you ask me. One that too many of us seem to have difficulty finding.
This is my personal experience, but what are human experiences if not universal? So maybe you’ll find yourself in this quick story.
When I fall in love, it’s always amazing at the start. I could spend hours with this special someone, sometimes doing something but most often doing nothing. My best memories are helping him cook a meal for two, parking somewhere randomly and just singing to songs and just laying down in bed—but these only ever last so long.
Eventually, being in love with this person changed; my definition of love changed. It went from adoring every bit of him to tolerating these little quirks that I didn’t understand. What was once an all-encompassing affection turned into a routine I became disgusted by. That linear development I mentioned earlier? I know it all too well.
But then there are people that seem to never hit that wall or are, at least, strong enough to break through it. So I had to figure out what love means for couples who have built a life together and fallen into a routine they could actually live with.
When love changes, it can be more beautiful
I reached out to 13 different people, each one in a long term relationship. Nine of them admitted that their definition of love changed from the moment they first said “I love you” to now.
“Before love was all about the feeling. Now love is about what I do for the person despite the feeling.”
—Regina Phalange, 27
“It feels different now because our lives have changed since then and so have our responsibilities.”
“It [now] has more depth and complexity.”
I asked them, too, whether or not they missed anything about the early stages of their relationships. Because of what I’ve gone through, I figured everyone misses something about the honeymoon stage—right? There has to be something about that early adoration that you sometimes look for, especially when you’re having your 2000th dinner across the same person. But apparently not; not really.
Four of them said they much prefer the love they have now, said there’s nothing that they miss or would trade back for their current setup. The answers of the rest were simple enough and easily injectable to their daily lives: the occasional compliment, a random “I love you,” some flirtation and just a bit of spontaneity.
But there is love that stays the same
And those other four people that can say (with how much honesty, I’ll never really know) love hasn’t changed for them. Gems, I suppose, are rare, but a love that stays consistent amidst trying times and changing situations? Even more so.
“Dionne has been consistent since day one. He is unreal.”
“I feel the same way about him even after 15 years.”
—Pamela Prieto, 34
“Love is a constant feeling.”
—Tito Koei, 40ish
“Love is love, whatever time period, generation or reincarnation.”
—MID Lara, 61
Did I learn anything from this exercise that I didn’t already know? Maybe not, but it did reaffirm the idea that love is something to still strive and look forward to. I still don’t know what it takes to find this forever-kind of love or what kind of understanding and patience it’ll take on my end to grasp it, but it’s possible and real—and knowing that it’s out there for (some) people is enough for me.
Art Alexandra Lara