You’ve heard about it in countless classics: “All you need is love,” “Somebody to love,” “Can’t help falling in love,” “When a man loves a woman.” There is a reason why we have so many songs about love. When everything around you seems to be falling apart or failing, love can be there to keep you afloat. Love is there to remind you why you should get up and try again when you don’t think you can anymore. It’s there to make milestone events even more memorable. In short, love is the best thing that we as humans can do and when you are in love, it is one of the greatest feelings you can have.

To quote Young MC, I spent a lot of my life “looking for love in all the wrong places.” I let myself be taken down paths that I didn’t really want to travel because I thought I was in love when I really wasn’t. It took me a long time to realize that love isn’t something I should have to chase or conform to. Love should be mutual and reciprocated; one side should not be holding all the love for both or forcing their will on the other. I also had to learn to love myself before I could really give and accept real love from others.

Five years ago, I finally figured it all out. At that time, I had been single for awhile and was resisting attempts by friends to set me up with their other single friends. One friend was relentless and kept telling me that she had the perfect girl for me. I, of course, didn’t believe that someone else could find the right person for me. I didn’t think my friend knew my type, but she would not let it go, so I eventually agreed to meet the two of them for lunch on a work day.

When I arrived for lunch, my eyes were drawn to her immediately. I had seen her picture once and she looked like the woman I was supposed to meet, but I wasn’t quite sure. Thankfully, our mutual acquaintance stepped in and introduced us, so I didn’t have to guess who she was for long. My date wore a black dress and her hair was long and straight. She looked at me with her beautiful smile and dimpled cheeks as our mutual acquaintance introduced us and she had me right there, but she wasn’t done.

As we talked more, I could tell by the way she carried herself and spoke that she was intelligent and thoughtful. She was someone who wanted to make a difference in the world. She was the kind of person who cared deeply about people and wanted to help them when they needed it most. Plus, she cussed like a sailor, so fuck yeah!

She was the woman of my dreams, and I was determined not to let her slip away. As it turned out, our offices were around the corner from each other, so we said goodbye to our chaperone and I walked her back to work after lunch. Outside her office, I nervously asked for her phone number before giving her a small kiss. When I said goodbye and turned to leave, I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest. She was going to be the one. I knew it already.

The next six months were a whirlwind. We spent almost all of our free time together learning about each other and what we hoped our lives would be. We played each other records of our favorite bands and talked about where we had been, what we had seen and where we wanted to go next. In our time together, we quickly discovered that we had a lot more in common than we had realized. It was like we were two puzzle pieces that were cut to fit together perfectly. When I asked her to move in six months after we started dating, it didn’t even feel like we were rushing. It was like I had known her my whole life.

It’s been five years since we began our relationship and things are a little different now, but also the same. We have both changed jobs a couple of times. We live in a different city and in a house we chose together now, too. After all that time, we have found some things we disagree on, but that hasn’t stopped us. I never once considered what my life would be like without her. My life would feel incomplete. She is too much a part of me now, which is why we got engaged last summer and will be getting married in the fall.

When you find someone like that to love, hold on to them. Remember, it may not always be obvious who that person will be, so keep your eyes and mind open to the possibilities. If I had stuck to my guns and turned down my friend’s repeated attempts to hook me up, I might have wasted the last five years chasing something that I didn’t really want but thought that I did. Instead, I ended up with someone who I truly and dearly love and I know that she will always love me back. You are going to have to find your own person, though; I wouldn’t trade mine for anything in the world. Thank you for making my life complete, Christina! You da you!

**This column first appeared in print on page 7 of issue #291 (May 8 – 22, 2019)**