I never believed in the idea of love presented in movies, songs, and by strangers around me. The idea of “perfect” love is all about exaggerating good parts, minimalizing or even being blind to the bad qualities your loved ones have, and demanding they return the favour. Although ego soothing, that kind of love is deceiving and, simply put – bullsh*t.
Not surprisingly, I’ve been told that this opinion makes me a cynic. It might be true, but my idea of love is the freedom to address the flaws with the same importance as the good qualities. The love I appreciate isn’t stroking each other’s ego and blissfully smiling 24/7. For me, love needs to include objectivity and beyond everything - acceptance. I openly talk about my flaws, flaws of my friends, my partner’s, or even my dog’s (who is the closest to perfection). If good intent, loyalty, and love are guaranteed, then why not admit the ‘bad stuff’ too?
This is exactly how I was raised. When I was 18 or so, I found out that my then-boyfriend cheated on me. I was heartbroken. My mom proposed the best therapy for teenagers - shopping. In one of the shops I looked to the side and I saw the girl my boyfriend cheated with. I whispered to my mom “that is her”, and she immediately whispered back: “Wow, she is gorgeous! Prettier than you.” Yes, she said that. It would be easier to just attach ‘the worst mother’ badge to her name, but I stopped and thought about it.
That was a perfect example of what real love for me is. A person who really loves you, has your back, but doesn’t cover your eyes nor is afraid to be objective with you. With that person you should be comfortable with all the things you have or might lack. All of us are a unique combo of good and bad parts. For sure, someone else is prettier, funnier, smarter, or kinder (definitely in my case). In bullsh*t love, knowing this would make you anxious. On the contrary, the real (or cynic’s) love is about the combo.
Or maybe this is just cognitive dissonance, and my mom was an a*shole.
Irena Boskovic, teacher and researcher at Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience