"I can't tell you what it is, but it's the best thing I've found
The butterflies in my stomach and my feet off the ground..."
Last October I found myself in a place of vague contentment. I was living a much happier life, making much more positive choices, and adjusting to the notion that I could, in fact, live in the present moment. I was on the road to getting better, living better, and it was then that I learned a lesson many who have come before me have experienced and written about time and time again: when you're not looking, when you're least expecting it, love will strike like a lightening bolt into your life, illuminating everything you value and casting darkness on all things you need not worry about.
For some, love comes in quietly, like a gentle summer rain, arriving slowly drop-by-drop. For others -- for me -- it came in with a booming presence, announcing itself loudly, violently. Like a crash of thunder in the middle of a deep sleep, it woke me and I was suddenly sitting upright in my bed, looking wide-eyed all around me, and thinking, "What was that?!"
I'd experienced love before, but never had it pounded so loudly, never had it shaken my life up the way it did a year ago. Since that fateful day when he walked into the airport and into my life, I've learned so much about myself, about my life, about what it means to truly, honestly, openly love. (For more on some of the lessons I've learned, check out the two-part series 30 Lessons I Learned From Love.) And, after a year of this love, I can honestly say that the excitement of the beginning, the thrill of those early days with him, is still there.
A year later, I can still feel the butterflies.
Like any great love, there have been some challenges over the past year, but none of the difficulties we've faced have challenged the way we feel for each other. I still feel a jolt of happiness when I look at him. I still wake up with a smile on my face knowing that he's lying next to me. Cliche as it might sound, I love him more today than I did yesterday and I know, without a doubt, that I will love him even more tomorrow.
As we approach our one year anniversary, it's hard for me to imagine what life was like before I met him. He makes everything in my life more positive; he makes me want to stay in the present. With just a smile, just a look, he keeps those butterflies floating around inside me, fluttering their wings against my ribcage.
Now, I've been in enough relationships to know those butterflies aren't easy to come by. After the initial honeymoon phase wears off, it's unusual to look at the person you're with and feel that flitting, fluttering feeling of excitement. So I have to wonder: how is it that I'm lucky enough to have that feeling? How it is that, after twelve months of seeing him nearly every day, the sight of him walking through the door at night can still get my heart pounding with happiness?
Looking back, I realize there are a lot of really positive things we've done to make sure that our relationship with one another remains positive and I feel incredibly lucky to have someone who is willing to put in just as much effort as I am to make our relationship one of love and happiness. Here are some of the things we've done over the past year that I really think have helped to make our life more positive (and have kept those butterflies floating around!):
5 Ways To Cultivate A Butterflies-In-Your-Stomach Love
1. Talk and listen. In any relationship, communication is key, but it's especially important when in comes to your significant other. I'm not a big fan of talking about the hard things, but I know that my ability to open up (albeit hesitantly) to him has made a HUGE difference in our relationship. We spend a lot of time talking -- both about the big things and the little things. The more we share with one another, the more we get to know each other better and, as a result, we be come better at interacting with one another. As much I'd sometimes like to avoid talking about certain things, we always deal with any issues we have head on. We don't wait or drag things out. We communicate openly and honestly with each other and I really believe that the talking (and listening!) we do has helped to make us much, much stronger.
2. Make time for each other. Life is busy. With full-time jobs, family commitments, and social lives, it can be hard to balance it all. But we do. We've found ways to do whatever we can to spend time together whenever possible. This sometimes means skipping out on other things or finding ways to compromise so that we both get to do what we want to do and still spend time together. For example, he trains for his marathons while I write. This way, when he's done running and I'm done writing, we can spend quality time together. Finding a way to spend a lot of time together isn't always easy, but it's one of the best ways to keep the love alive in any relationship.
3. Do the little things. Though I've received countless emails, cards, and notes from him over the past month, I still feel a shock of excitement when I see his email address in my in-box or a handwritten note on the kitchen counter. Too often after the initial phase of love, people forget how important the little things are. A quick email to say, "I love you" can make all the difference in the world. It doesn't take long to write an email or send a text message, but it's these little things that can put a big smile on a loved one's face. No matter how long a couple is together, they shouldn't forget about the little things because, really, it's all the little things that add up to the big thing -- love.
4. Be supportive. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have someone in my life who not only loves me, but supports what I do. Before I even started dating him he was reading Positively Present. Whether he knew it or not, before he met me he was supporting what I love to do most -- write. And since I've been with him he's continued to do that day in and day out. He's one of the biggest supporters of my love for writing and that's one of the most butterfly-inducing feelings in the world. Knowing that someone loves not only you, but what you spend your time doing, is key. If you can, talk to your significant other about what s/he does and really get to know what s/he is passionate about.
5. Live in the now. One of the best ways to keep the butterflies in any relationship is to focus on what's happening right now. Dwelling on the past or stressing about the future won't do anything positive for your relationship. Instead, focus on what's happening right now. I can't say I always do this, but I really try my hardest to focus on him, on us, when we're together. Staying present and really being with the person you love is so important. It's easy to get distracted and to lose sight of the now, but when I find myself really partaking in the moment, I realize just how much he means to me and I'm able to really enjoy the excitement of being around him.
There are, of course, many other ways to keep those butterflies floating around, but these top five have really made the past year of my life amazing. I feel so incredibly grateful to have spent the past year experiencing such a great love, and I cannot wait for the years to come so to him I must say: Thank you for giving me butterflies the first time I awkwardly shook your hand last year, and thank you for keeping them alive and fluttering for the past year. I loved you a year ago and I love you even more today. Happy anniversary!
How do you keep the butterflies alive in your relationships?
What little things can you do for a loved one to inspire that falling-in-love feeling?