“Dear Boys: This Is How Love Should and Does Work” originally appeared on The Good Men Project and was reprinted with permission.
Right now, you two think I am annoying, nagging, and bothersome. I am invading your space and spoiling your free time with my mundane requests. Long before I am ever ready to let go, it will come time for you to leave my nest and build one of your own.
I hope when you finally spread those wings to soar, all the lessons I have lost much sleep over and salted my stale, reheated coffee to teach you, become transparent. That they stick to your ribs like the gumption you currently have for Call of Duty.
You are simply too enthralled with the discovery of your own egos to see past the hormone-inflated, presumptuous assumptions you bellow before slamming your bedroom door.
And that is perfectly okay for the moment.
I know when the time is right, you will discover the treasure chest I have so carefully filled for you over the years. There are some things in life I cannot teach you about directly. So listen up now, because I need to tell you a little something about love before you go.
Some day soon, you are going to discover what it’s like to fall in love. It could be the one and only time, but it could also be the first of many others. It could be puppy love or kismet. You will never fully know until it has already happened and nothing more can be done to change the fact.
If you are anything like your mother, there will be many loves, but you still have to go into each relationship as if it’s the only one you’ll ever have because in that moment with her, or him, it truly is the only relationship you have and should be cherished as such.
You have to continuously nurture your partner if you want to grow together, and it must be done of your own conviction for your selfish delectation or else it will have been in vain. You shouldn’t stop taking care of your own needs, by any means, but a true partnership is strongly committed to staying conscientious of one another throughout the relationship.
I promise you.
The efforts you have been forced to make at being conscientious of your three younger siblings will pay off later on, when you and Sleeping Beauty are bills deep and three kids into your happily ever after, trying to trim the budget for the third time in six months.
There will also be plenty of occurrences in which you mistake simple attraction for true love; especially when you are young and inexperienced still. The butterfly tummy, skin-tingling, firework kiss, tent-pitching effect is not love, a sign of love, or a guaranteed precursor to love.
You are simply horny because your body’s arousal system was activated on a hormonal level. It is perfectly fine to act upon it for the moment of pleasure it’s worth.
But always follow these three hookup rules religiously:
- Always be upfront and honest with your intentions for relations of any kind — now and in the future. Never lie. You will avoid flipping many a girl’s “crazy” switch if you are straightforward from the get-go. (And, while we’re here, let’s squash any misconceptions you may have gotten from your bruahs. EVERYONE has a “crazy” switch. There is no “type.” We ALL have the ability to turn into your worst nightmare.)
- Treat every girl with the same respect. A girl who is willing to play with “no strings attached” as you asked her to do when you laid your intentions out in rule one, has the same value as a girl who only wants you in the boundaries of a committed relationship. Everyone is at a different point in their lives and wants different things where they’re at. If it is acceptable for you to want to satisfy only your physical needs without recourse, so can a woman. Don’t use words like slut or whore. (You are never too old for me to put soap in your mouths.)
- When a girl says “No,” she means it! And you better respect it! If I have to actually be reminding you of this right now (then I haven’t done a very good job as a mother thus far in raising you).
**While I talk about the rules from a heterosexual point of view, they still apply if you are in a homosexual relationship. No matter to me, as long as you get the opportunity to love someone with all your heart.
Love fully, live freely, and just be yourselves without restraint.
Don’t waste too much time trying to mash yourselves into a box of social constraints that fail to meet the one-size-fits-all requirements of real people. The pressures of social expectations will try and keep you from loving a woman gently, wholeheartedly, and dedicatedly because it doesn’t fit with the unrealistic portrayal of idolized masculinity.
None of that hoopla matters, though.
When all else is gone at the end of the day, when the shops have all closed down, when all the work has been finished, when the streets have been emptied out, and the house is finally quiet and still with the dark — all that will be left for you in the loneliness of the night, is the one you love. Not one other soul out of the rest of the world.
Just the one you love.
They will be the only one willing to stand both back-to-back and toe-to-toe with you all in the same moment, without hesitation. Not every love will be meant for you. Or meant to stay forever. The strain of the world will test whether or not your love will survive the fate bestowed upon you almost daily at times. Not every love can withstand the path you have been chosen to follow. Sometimes you have to lose a love several times and gain them back a few times over more, before figuring out what the deal is between the two of you and if they are meant to travel beside you forever. Letting go is a painful but necessary lesson to accept. Very few are lucky enough to meet their soulmate the first time they fall in love but, like I said before, you really don’t know with love until you actually know.
Love is such a mysteriously unpredictable, breathtakingly splendiferous, consumedly beautiful, and painfully humbling thing. It is so much more than a simple emotion. Whatever you two do in your lifetimes — do not let yourselves stop loving. Give love all you’ve got every single day. You cannot be lazy with it. It’s not a mess that can wait until you feel like messing around with it. It does not and will not ever take care of itself. Love will only give you exactly what you put into it.
Tomorrow is an un-promised gift everyone takes for granted more oft than not.
Make sure you take the time to fulfill the needs of your hearts while you’re out there in the great wide world chasing your dreams. Love is worth more than any of the riches you might make or possessions you might own — for it is what you were born of to begin with.
Until your flying feathers finish molting and I am forced to let you fly off and find my successor,
Your Mother, The Original Keeper of Your Hearts
More from The Good Men Project:
- It’s okay for boys to cry
- To my sons: Lessons on manhood I learned from your father
- Being a boy shouldn’t be the lowest common denominator
- Son, we’re going to talk about sex