“You are so beautiful, and I am a fool to be in love with you / is a theme that keeps coming up in songs and love poems,” Billy Collins writes in Nightclub.
"There seems to be no room for variation.
I have never heard anyone sing
I am so beautiful
and you are a fool to be in love with me,
even though this notion has surely
crossed the minds of women and men alike.
You are so beautiful, too bad you are a fool
is another one you don't hear.
Or, you are a fool to consider me beautiful.
That one you will never hear, guaranteed."
Although I am unmarried, I have been lucky in love. I've loved a lot of beautiful, astonishing people. I do believe in a love at first sight. I still love (almost) everyone I’ve ever dated – and I’m certain I always will.
In fact – I’m actually really glad I’m not married! If I’d gotten married to any of my previous boyfriends, I wouldn’t have had the chance to date the ones who came after. All of whom continue to make me proud. All of whom continue to mean the world to me.
Naturally, I’ve learned a lot from my years of romance. I’ve learned about the grit and perseverance it takes to start a successful company. I’ve learned about optogenetics, genome editing and mechatronics. I’ve learned about passion, empathy, and forgiveness.
But perhaps the most important lesson I could have possibly learned is this one:
I don’t want to be with a man who loves my soft lips.
I don’t want to be with a man who loves my slim waist, my long legs or my toned arms.
I don’t want to be with a man who loves my athleticism or my skills on the basketball court.
I don’t want to be with a man who loves how brave I am when I’m out surfing, climbing or whitewater kayaking.
I don’t even want to be with a man who loves my intelligence or my sense of humor.
Anyone could love me for those things. But when you’re truly connected to someone, that’s not what you love about them. You love their ever-growing belly. You love their flat chest – their complete lack of pecs.
You love their high blood pressure, and their utter incompetence at ball sports. You love their little insecurities that no one else knows about.
You love how obnoxiously long it takes them to pack, and how they always – always – have food in their beard or a booger in their nose.
Real love isn’t about appreciating the things anyone could appreciate. It’s not about self-gratification or satisfying your own wants. It's not about vanity or being the "best." It’s about appreciating the beauty of a real, complete, breathing person.
Which is why I want to be with a man who loves how my hair is always messy, no matter what I try. (Which, so far, has consisted of water, scrunchies and wishful thinking.)
I want to be with a man who loves the weird bump on the back of my head. (Yes, I asked the doctor. No, it’s not cancer.)
I want to be with a man who loves me when I’m injured and can’t do anything fun or interesting with my body for a while. (It’s the perfect time for us to try something new together!)
I want to be with a man who loves me when I’m terrified, and who always knows how to talk me down after a huge wipeout. (He knows I’d do the same for him.)
I want to be with a man who loves me when I’ve been the biggest idiot ever, and I’m freaking out, because I have no idea how to fix it.
One of the wisest men who’s ever lived once told me, “Relationships are about acceptance. When you look at this person, and you know they will probably never change… do you still love them? Do you still want to be with them? If the answer is no, then you probably can’t have a future with that person.”
When he said that, it kind of rocked my world. But since then, I’ve realized that love is about more than accepting the things that aren’t beautiful. It’s about embracing them -- it's about coming to find them beautiful. Which isn’t to say that relationships aren’t work – they absolutely are. And it’s not to say that you shouldn’t have deal breakers – you absolutely should.
But if you can’t stare that person straight in the eye booger and tell them they’re gorgeous… you might want to ask yourself if this is truly the right relationship for you.
Want more? Check out The Orgasm Gap Is Real... But Don't Blame It On The Patriarchy, The Stanford Kink Club Has the Healthiest Sex on Campus -- Here's Why and I Judge Guys Who Ask Me Out For Coffee. And obviously, check out Billy Collins. You can read the rest of Nightclub here.
2/10/2016 10:04:10 pm
What a sweet article! And you're right, when you're intimate with someone you may love all sorts of "unflattering" things about them, because in your eyes they are CUTE! :)
6/9/2017 10:36:43 am
I don't normally love a bait-and-switch, but this one was well done. Thanks for the reminder! Love isn't about finding someone who's perfect. It's about finding someone whose imperfections are perfect.
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