The phone rang.
She was sobbing badly on the other end of the line.
“I’m going over,” I told her and hung up before she could protest.
1am. It was going to be a long night ahead..
She was still crying when she opened the door. She looked so broken, so vulnerable. I didn’t have to know what was wrong, I just held her in my arms. She cried even more.
“He broke up with me,” she finally said.
I just kept quiet as she let it all out.. questions, tears, anger, hurt.
“Why does love have to hurt so much?”
“No, love.. doesn’t hurt,” I said gently.
“So says the guy who’s been single forever? What would you know about love,” she jabbed.
“So says the guy who’s been your friend though Mr now-ex-#4,” I grinned. “Love doesn’t hurt you.. it’s the person that doesn’t know how to love or appreciate love that hurts you. But love never hurts,”.
“You won’t understand, Matt,” she sighed, “you’ve never been in love…”
“That’s not entirely true, you know..”
“Wait what- so who’s this girl I’ve never heard abou-“
“What did you love about #4 anyway?” I interjected.
“I don’t know… he is just perfect. And I love him so much,”
“But you don’t know what it is that you love about him?”
“It’s just.. the feeling when I’m with him. It always felt right with him. He made me feel loved and I loved him too,”
“That’s it? Just a feeling?”
“Well.. yea. What were you expecting me to say?”
“.. something more specific, maybe? I mean, if you thought he’s so ‘perfect’, why’d he still chea- erm, why’d he leave you?”
“Because I’m just not good enough for him? I don’t know..” she paused. “What is love to you then…”
“Hmm.. to me, being together or in love with someone should be more that just a feeling.. it should also be about mutual understanding, acceptance, respect, commitment and trust.”
“That’s what all couples would hope and want their relationship to be like, Matt. But expectations and reality don’t always go together..”
“Or maybe.. someone’s just not trying?”
“Well if you think love is so simple.. why haven’t you been with anyone all these years?”
“I never said love was simple.. but I guess the reason why I’ve never been with anyone yet is because.. I already know exactly what I want,”
“You have.. a checklist?”
“Sorta. It’s not the typical kinda ‘I’d like a girl with long hair, nice smile, etc’ superficial checklist though,”
“Oh. What kind of list is it then?”
“It’s like.. a concept of love. Of what it is about a girl that will make me fall completely in love with her. A concept that has more than three specific reasons that would answer any question as to why I love her.”
“You have a concept of love?” she laughed. “Love isn’t a theory, Matt.. you can’t just classify love by a concept or definition, you simply feel it with your heart..”
“But you see.. the reason why I think there are so many broken hearts, is because people merely jump into a relationship when their heart feels a certain something towards someone. But I don’t think that’s love, that’s merely an infatuation. Personally, I believe there are more than three reasons and aspects that actually determines whether we really are truly in love beyond the superficial ‘I don’t know why I love him/her.. I just do’ reason,”
“That makes sense. So what exactly is this.. ‘concept’ of yours about?” she asked, genuine curiosity replacing her initial skepticism.
“I call it the 4+1 theory. The aspects that will determine if it’s true love or just a fickle infatuation. It’s based on this idea that whenever we like someone, if we really go deeper into what is it that draws us to him or her, we’d be able to find that one specific reason. That’s not love though. That’s merely an attraction or infatuation. But when more than three of the aspects from this theory are present, you’ll be pretty sure that it’s more than just a feeling. For me personally, this determines if I’ll ever fall in love with a girl…”
Mind. Heart. Body. Soul.
The mind aspect, to put it simply, is her intellect. But I don’t mean the academic smarts.. it’s the way she thinks, processes and analyzes things way beyond a shallow self centeredness. It’s the way she puts across her thoughts, not for winning an argument’s sake, but to really try to understand or even sensibly debate opposing views that might leave anyone reflecting on her words or challenge me to think differently. It’s the way she carries herself off with an aura of sophistication and enigmatic charm and no matter how much I might think I already know her or have her figured out, she’ll still surprise me with something unexpected. Good surprise. I like intellect. Personally, it takes a little more to intrigue me and stimulate my senses. If I can connect with someone and talk endlessly about the concept of nothing, then, only then, will we be able to talk about everything else.. and I think that’s incredibly alluring,”
“Ooh.. so my best friend’s sapiosexual too,” she teased. “But what about her likes and dislikes or like her personality.. does that go under the mind aspect too?”
“Well, that’s where the heart aspect comes in. The heart represents who she is by what she values or cares about. The things she likes, the things she dislikes. What really matters to her, as well as her insecurities and fears..”
She bit her lower lip - thinking. “But what if him knowing about my past and all my insecurities scares him or drives him away? Or what if he ever uses all of these against me if someday things go bad between us?”
“Erm.. you do realize that it doesn’t really matter now because whether or not he ever knew, he already chose to leave you right? But.. if he still or ever tries to hurt you in any way, then he is a fucking bastard and I will punch his face,”. I really meant it.
“I don’t think he even cares about me anymore,” she sighed, “maybe he never really did.. we were so.. different. I don’t know why I never actually realize it before,”
“Maybe because then, you were too ‘blinded by love’ to see, or you chose to conveniently ignore the differences. Honestly though, I think it’s critical for two people to understand each other’s heart and learn to accommodate each other’s differences rather than simply turning a blind eye or deaf ear ‘because I love him and that’s all that matters’. Because if two people are too different in the way they think, behave or live.. I reckon it will become a huge problem when the infatuation bubble bursts.”
“I don’t really understand..” she said.
“Let me just ask you this.. does he know how passionate you are towards the arts and music?"
“Well, no.. not really. He’s more the sports kind of guy and doesn’t like theatre and stuff so I didn’t want him to get bored if I talked to him about things he isn’t interested in..”
“Then i’m guessing he probably also doesn’t care or know the little things about you. Like how you’re afraid of the dark and why you’re actually scared of darkness.. how family and relationships are really important to you.. that ice cream is your happy pill. You know, I’m even going to bet that he doesn’t know you go to bed every night, clutching your phone just hoping and waiting for him to text you goodnight..”
She started to tear again, but I continued..
“You see, it’s not a matter of whether it bores him or not.. it’s a matter of whether he bothers or not. I mean, if he doesn’t even know these things about you, then he really doesn’t know you at all. How then can he say he loves you?”
“But I really loved him,” she murmured softly to herself .
“I know you did. I know you still do and it’s hurting you like shit. But you need to know that for any kind of relationship to work.. two people need to give and take. Sadly, with him, it seems like you’re the one who was always giving. If he actually really loved you back as much, he’d make a greater effort to close the gap and bridge the differences between you two. He’d want to hear what you have to say, he would actually consider your opinions, your needs and your feelings. He’ll not just tell you or text you that he loves you.. he’ll show it by the things he will do or be willing to do no matter how inconvenient or silly it might be, just because.. he knows it’ll make you happier or better. To me, when it comes to a relationship, the heart aspect isn’t just a feeling or who you/he or she is anymore. It becomes two hearts beating as one. Two people wanting to understand each other.. sharing the good, the bad and possibly a future together; actually bothering and supporting each other’s feelings, values, dreams, thoughts, emotions,”
She stayed silent for a long while before she looked up, holding my gaze.. there was this unspoken tension building before she finally spoke again.
“But.. what if something that’s important to me, is not something the guy might feel same way about?"
“Then I’ll try-” I caught myself. “I mean, if I were him. I’d try. I’d make the effort.. because it’s important to you and you’re important to me,”
She remained silent again. She wasn’t crying anymore but this time, the prolonged silence was starting to grow even more deafening.
“Matt,” she finally spoke - softly, “do you believe in love at first sight?”
“No.” I said flatly.
“Oh..” she sighed. “You know what you said about mind and heart.. it’s actually starting to sink in and I’m beginning to realize that maybe these two aspects weren’t exactly a big part of my relationship with him,”
“So what made you fall in love with him then?”
“Well.. don’t laugh, but I’ve always thought that with him, it was love at first sight. I mean, there was just this spark between us from the very first time we met,”
“Cos he was hot?” I scoffed.
“No.. don’t be an idiot,” she tried to hide her smile but failed. I rolled my eyes. “Okay fine, yea maybe that. But it wasn’t the only reason!”
I raised an eyebrow.
“He was really nice too! And he was always sweet to me,“ she began her defense case. “He always made me feel happy, secure and loved without even having to try, you know?” I just continued staring at her waiting for her to go on. “Oh never mind, you’d never understand..”
“Actually.. I do. And I think I now understand what it was that made you fall in love with him.
The body aspect.
The body aspect is about physical attraction, intimacy and presence.
I don’t believe in love at first sight. I don’t believe you can just “instantly know” you’re in love or that someone’s THE one just by “first sight”. No offense, but I think the whole love at first sight concept is bullshit that only exists in movies and fairy tales. In reality, it isn’t love. That very first attraction.. is probably lust. Lust at first sight”.
“What nonsense! It’s not like I was lusting over him from the very first time I laid eyes on him! Maybe it’s the case for guys.. I mean, sex is always on a guy’s mind whenever he meets a girl right? But it’s different for girls, Matt..” she protested.
“Okay. You know what.. since you brought up the age-old guys and sex debate, I’ll tell you this secret to clarify something about guys for the first and last time.. probably 99% of guys are naturally sexual. If you ever meet any guy who tells you he isn’t sexual at all, it’s not that he’s gay – no, gays are even more horny .. he’s likely to be a liar and you should be more wary of him. BUT! Here’s the thing.. even though guys are sexual by nature, it isn’t always the only or most important thing to a guy,”
“Really?” now she raised her eyebrow with that annoying smirk on her face.
“Oh come on, you girls know how it is, plus you aren’t exactly saint-like innocent either.. sometimes you see a hot guy and you start fantasizing or making statements like ‘omg have my babies’..”
“That…” she started blushing.
“That.. is exactly my point. It’s the same with guys. We might talk and think about sex a lot more openly than girls but it isn’t always the only thing on our mind. When I said it’s lust at first sight.. I didn’t literally mean you want the guy naked and in bed. What I meant is the momentary attraction or desire– he might be hot, he might be charming, he might have smiled at you that made you feel a certain way.. but that’s not love. That’s really just a superficial physical attraction. Saying “I’m in love” right there and then just completely takes the special meaning out of the word ‘love’. If you ask me, I personally think the process of loving or falling in love with someone involves discovering the person and then perhaps developing feelings. It could happen quickly or over a longer period of time, but not at first sight,”
“Hmm.. that does make sense,” she paused and then her lips curled up forming that annoying smirk again. “Oh wow, this is the first time you and I are talking about sex huh..”.
“You never asked..”
“Tell me then.. what is sex to you?”
“Sex.. to me, is merely a physical act. I am not part of the whole “sex is sacred/taboo” camp but then, I don’t take sides with the whole bed hopping culture either,”
“I can’t believe you just said that sex is merely a physical act..” she began in a disappointed tone.
“But sex really is just a physical act if it’s without emotions or feelings. And that is why I distinguish between sex and making love, the same way I clearly differentiate ‘loving’ and ‘being in love’ with someone,”
“Oh.” this time, she smiled. She understood.
“Don’t get me wrong.. I think physical intimacy is very important in a relationship but for me, the one physical aspect that matters the most.. is the physical presence. That, is also what I reckon made you fall in love with him.
“Okay this, I really want to know…” she said.
“The physical presence is simply being there. You want him to be with you. You want to be there for him. Because just being there with or for each other makes your day, or you as a person, a little better. You may act or behave a little different when you’re with him, but in a good way – in a way that you actually feel completely comfortable, safe and you. Perhaps even without you knowing, you smile more and laugh harder. You feel real, genuine joy. And even on days when the smile can’t happen, you know you don’t have to pretend to be okay or be self conscious in front of him; because its perfectly okay to be the way you are and feel when you’re with him. He cares about you and you feel loved when you’re with him. Sometimes, there are no need for words or explanations.. just his presence, him being there for you, holding you.. makes you feel better or believe that it’s going to be okay again. Because you’re not just holding on to someone for attention or sympathy.. you actually feel and believe that you’re holding on to a part of or the rest of your life..”
Which leads to the fourth aspect – soul.
The soul aspect to me, is the deepest form and the final affirmation that should answer any remaining doubt or questions as to whether we’ve truly fallen in love with a person.
It’s when you start noticing but still appreciate all the other little things, even the flaws - especially the flaws. It’s when you truly know a person stripped down of all their walls, exposed to their soul and yet still accept and love him or her. It’s a level of understanding and acceptance that goes beyond the “honeymoon everything is perfect” period.
It’s when you finally realize this one person is someone you can always and want to tell everything to, and you want to ask and know everything of him or her as well. It’s when you actually want to share your life and trust your secrets with this person; and you can. This someone is the first person you think of when you’re happy, sad or when something significant happens. This same person is someone you can call at 1am in the morning and they’d drop everything to make time for you, staying by you till the sun rises or you’re better again - as you would for him or her as well. This person cares and will listen. Will really listen, giving you their undivided attention and genuine love; not necessarily every time but any time you need him or her. This one person makes your problem their problem and they go through it together with you just so you don’t have to go through the pain and tears alone,”
It was at this moment, for the very first time, she looked at me in a different way but said nothing.
“You see, the soul aspect..” I continued, “is when you start to see and want to share the rest of your life with this one other. And not in a clingy “I can’t live without you” way, but in a way that I can still live my life without you as I have before I met you, but now that you’ve come to exist in my life, I see the possibility of a life with you and now I actually want to make decisions and live a life, continuing to create more moments and memories together with you”.
“Well.. so.. have you met this one person yet? I mean, I’m sure it’s almost impossible to find that ‘perfect’ girl who fulfills all of your four aspects of love right?” she mumbled. I could barely hear her. She wasn’t even looking at me anymore.
“No, it is not impossible and I don’t think its asking for too much. You see the thing about these four aspects is, we often and will find one or two aspects in many different people. And that alone may be enough to make us attracted to them or develop a crush on them. But really, that is not love at all. If we like a person because “he’s cute” or “the way she thinks”, that’s just us liking the body and/or mind aspect of a person. The reality is, we are always going to meet many people who possess these different aspects of mind, heart, body or soul. But on a rare occasion when you do meet someone who possess all these four aspects.. you’ll almost definitely know that he or she is not one of many but may just be the one. So personally, I won’t settle for anything less unless she possess more than three qualities. You know people write the symbol of love as < 3 (less than three), I actually think love should be more than three.. I define it as 4+1. “
“So what’s plus one?” she asked, still not looking at me.
“Plus one…” I trailed off – unconsciously.
“Matt?” she placed her hand on top of mine, finally looking me in eye again.
“Plus one.. is something only the one who's meant to be will ever know and hold the answer to”.