You do not have to like to love

I’ve reached the age where relationships taper. (And before you jump to the conclusion that I’m very old, let me clarify: I’m referring to the late twenties.) Everywhere I look, I see people starting to get out of the phenomenon of ‘groups’ that were formed because of shared experiences in schools, colleges and maybe even workplaces. There’s a transition to a life filed with “your chosen few”. These are people who fulfil different criteria—they stayed by your side all these years; they know you inside out; they don’t judge your whacky behavior and pet peeves, so on and so forth. You get the gist.

These are “your” people. You hold them dear to your heart. Maybe even love them with an intensity that takes you by surprise. (Usually there’s copious amounts of alcohol involved in such cases.)

But every now and then, you go through an evaluation phase, when you wonder if the people you’ve retained in life really do deserve it. Anything could spark such introspection—a mistake, disappointment, or maybe even literature (Internet junk included).

And if you’re even remotely like me, you may go through these dark phases when all you can see is the flaws in people. You recount all the past mistakes, the hurt and the disappointment. You recount the times you gave them more than they deserved, forgetting that you’re equally flawed. It’s akin to a “self pity” trip.

During these phases, you may draw the conclusion that somewhere deep down, you may not actually like the person you hold so dear. That if it weren’t for the shared experiences, that if you were to be introduced to this person afresh, you may not even befriend them. That all that links you two is the past.

I often take this one step further. I wonder if it’s time to leave the past behind and move on. Sometimes, the bitterness can cause chemical changes in your brain structure (not to be taken literally… I’m no scientist, yo!)

And then, a light shines later through the dark hole you’ve dug yourself into. (Insert a clichéd line about how love is the light). You realize that flawed as they may be, and hurt and bitter as you may be, you go back to the default setting of loving them. Unbeknownst to you, your actions to back to the normal, where you look forward to more shared experiences, insipid as they may be. You look forward to having your heart fill with a brand of joy, friendship and love that only they are capable of. And you realize, you do not have to really like a person in their entirety to love them.